Feb. 26, 2020 By Kristen Torres
The owner of a Woodside yoga studio has started a non-profit designed to help underserved and vulnerable communities.
Roque Rodriguez—co-owner of Suryaside Yoga at 49-06 Skillman Ave.—established I Can Breathe Yoga to make yoga and mediation accessible for people and communities who have not traditionally had access to the practices.
Rodriguez has been helping the disenfranchised for some time and the formation of a non-profit is the next step. He currently brings yoga to the incarcerated at Rikers Island via a group called Liberation Prison Yoga.
The new organization currently offers a free, weekly yoga session at the Jacob Riis Settlement in Long Island City on Thursdays from 7 to 8 p.m. Rodriguez said plans are in the works to expand the program to more communities throughout the five boroughs and into parts of New Jersey.
The non-profit will celebrate its official launch on Mar. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Jacob Riis.
“My life has been improved in every way because of my yoga practice and I want to share this with the people who need it most and have the least access to it,” Roque said in a statement.
The non-profit also offers yoga teacher training scholarships to people who live or work in underserved communities. Once a student graduates from the training, they’ll teach a weekly class for six months in one of the organization’s target communities.
“My goal is to help shift the culture to where knowledge and love of self are seen as signs of strength and power instead of weakness,” Roque said.
Roque started I Can Breathe Yoga alongside Kim Thai—a yoga-meditation teacher.
“We are empowering and educating these communities to use their body and breath to better manage their high levels of stress and challenges,” Thai said.
“We hope that this program can liberate and bring a bit more peace to these communities in their daily lives.”