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Life and Religion

Self-care is focus of monthlong virtual sessions
Hotter than July focuses on individual
Published Thursday, July 30, 2020 3:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Yoga instructor Keisha Battles taught throughout Hotter than July, a series of online self-care sessions.

Hotter than July has been a month-long space of self-care.

While the name pays homage to the Stevie Wonder album, and certainly describes the 90-degree-plus temperatures in Charlotte, it was designed to serve as a space for Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) to center, ground and shield. A group of people came together on a Zoom call in June. They decided to create a virtual event centering on BIOPOC. Others were welcome, but the understanding that this space had been created for BIOPOC people.

“Teachers had the option to choose whether they did BIPOC only or open to everyone,” said Kiesha Battles, who taught yoga throughout Hotter than July.

Hotter than July incorporated book study, African dance, journaling, varying types of yoga, guided meditation as well as discussions on race and gender bias. It was led by Jasmine Hines, Rebby Kern, Vivian Selles, Battles, Niche Faulkner, VoNique Wilson, Courtney Gendron, Michaela Mallette and Vicie Moran.

“Yin yoga has actually been my favorite,” Battles said. “For me the most poignant moment was the first yin yoga session with Vicie Moran. We started class with 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silent meditation. It was so deep how she connected that to our present time and the murder [of George Floyd].”

Attendees joined Hotter than July from all over the world, including Africa. One of them, a woman named Phyllis, attended Battles’ Saturday morning classes.

“She said she didn’t notice it was something she needed,” Battles said.

Battles focused on Chinese meridians in her classes, emphasizing areas such as the lung meridian and the kidney meridian.

“The first week we focused on the lung meridian, we talked about breath and the importance of creating that vitality to fuel ourselves,” Battles said. “We went into the kidney meridians, and that is the batteries of our lives, and to charge them up. When batteries are depleted we fall into that space of fear. We are charged with not having to need to feel in fear. We had discussions on how that relates to health problems in our communities—kidney failure and dialysis. People would use the space to share things.”

Hines founded Amplify and Activate, which holds an annual summit combining self-care, social justice and yoga. Hotter than July expands on that work, and will continue to grow.
“The theme is around centering, shielding and grounding,” Battles said. “We use yoga as a way to center in this space that we created virtually for this month. It has allowed people to shield and let go of pain in safe spaces.”

An in-person closing ceremony will take place on Aug. 2 at the Black Lives Matter mural at 222 South Tryon St. from 6-9 p.m. The event will also be livestreamed. Programing has been free, but donations to Amplify and Activate have been encouraged.

The closing ceremony will serve as a fundraiser for Jail Support with a peaceful yoga protest, restorative yoga, meditation and African dance.
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