Kiva Baltimore Borrower Update: Dea Lott

Dea Lott owner of Che Yoga

Dea Lott owner of Che Yoga

Since successfully reaching her fundraising goal of $4,000 within just four days, Kiva Baltimore Borrower Dea Lott has seen her business, Che Yoga LLC, blossom in ways she could not have imagined!

Over the last seven months, Dea has kept busy by negotiating partnerships with local nonprofits to expand her mobile yoga studio locations, obtaining additional training to expand her services, developing her own specialty yoga program, and co-founding a yoga teachers’ collective.

Dea teaching a yoga class at Baltimore Community Mediation Center

Dea teaching a yoga class at Baltimore Community Mediation Center

Dea’s first two partnerships began with Leslie Gibbons, owner of Root to Rise Yoga, and Nature Sacred, a nonprofit that reconnects people with nature for improved health. The collaboration of these partners has made it possible for Che Yoga to bring additional yoga classes to the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, and teach youth attending the Village Learning Place summer camp program. Her work doesn’t stop there! Dea is also working to offer more classes at Hearts and Ears in order to support the GLBTQ community in overcoming mental health issues.

Dea also used the Kiva Baltimore Loan to gain additional trauma-informed yoga training to expand her services. In March, she obtained her certification as a Yoga of 12-Step Recovery Leader from Nikki Myers, an accomplished practitioner, founder of Y12SR, and a well-known figure in the yoga community. Dea & Nikki met when Nikki held a training in Baltimore. Coincidentally, Dea had never met Myers but took her very first yoga class at Myers’ former yoga in Indiana for more than 15 years ago. Dea has since developed a close professional relationship with Y12SR and they recently awarded her a scholarship to attend the Race in America tour in Alabama that combines lectures and discussions on race relations with daily yoga workshops.

In May, Dea attended the Prison Yoga Project trauma-informed yoga training in Brooklyn, NY and remains involved with a regional group of yoga teachers who teach yoga in Maryland and D.C. prisons.  She was also recently accepted into the American Viniyoga Institute’s foundational training program for teachers seeking to become yoga therapists.

Dea attending a  Prison Yoga Project  training in Brooklyn Dea attended the training thanks to the  Black Yoga Teachers Alliance

Dea attending a Prison Yoga Project training in Brooklyn Dea attended the training thanks to the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance

Drawing on her personal background and professional experiences as a former poverty law attorney, legal educator, and grassroots organizer, Dea created the Yoga for Resilience against Injustice™ (YRI) program. The program incorporates yogic philosophy, sharing circles, a gentle yoga practice, and community to give participants an opportunity for healthy expression of their experiences. Dea is excited to create a space for individuals and communities who are frequently targets of social injustices to heal and build resilience of the spirit, mind, and body against adversity.

Dea Lott at Kiva Baltimore’s Pitch Competition, January 2019

Dea Lott at Kiva Baltimore’s Pitch Competition, January 2019

In June, Dea became the Maryland Ambassador for the Black Girl Yoga Group – a social media group that connects a worldwide community of black yoginis around the world sharing their practice and inherent magic.

Last month, Dea co-founded the Yogis of Color Exchange with a purpose of building a regional collective of yogis of color to unite, share resources, and support the health, wellness, and spiritual growth of yoga teachers of color in the important work that they do to support and heal communities of color.

Che Yoga has experienced an uptick in business and other networking opportunities in this short amount of time since fundraising with Kiva Baltimore. Our team is excited to see where Che Yoga will go next!