Flourishing While Black
IN THE NEWS
UVA TODAY Story: "UVA Alum Creates a Yoga Practice for UVA Students Like Her"
YOGA & MEDITATION FOR STUDENTS
This program is designed to provide a variety of accessible, beneficial, and sustainable classes and resources to promote flourishing among the Black student body at the University of Virginia. We recognize that the experiences of Black students are unique from the larger student body and deserve consciously curated programs that appropriately address their needs and facilitate safe spaces for bettering their well-being and collegiate career paths. View our classes which include the current Flourishing While Black contemplative weekly offerings here.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM
A Q&A With Program Director Carrington Kernodle
The Contemplative Sciences Center’s Flourishing While Black program, newly launched at the University of Virginia in the fall of 2021, is designed to increase community involvement, accessibility to resources, and leadership development among the university’s Black students. The main force behind this program is CSC’s Assistant Director of Contemplative Engagement Carrington Kernodle, a 2018 graduate of the UVA. Kernodle began working as a part-time instructor for CSC post graduation and joined the center full-time this past summer. She has been engaged in contemplative practices for over 11 years and received her 200-hour yoga teacher training certification.
As a Black alumna, Kernodle has firsthand knowledge of the unique challenges Black students face at UVA. With the Flourishing While Black program and broader initiatives at CSC, she wants to support these students and help them thrive through "consciously curated" contemplative programs. This semester she introduced two new extracurricular classes—Santosha for Sisters and Breath & Body Work for Brothers—and offered numerous other yoga and contemplative workshops and opportunities for the UVA community. Her offerings typically involve yoga flows, breathwork, journaling, and/or meditation.
Students in Kernodle’s classes are feeling heard, represented, and encouraged to participate in opportunities designed to support their well-being. One attendee told her, “I’ve been looking for a space to practice and a teacher that looks like me.” In a similar vein, another student said, “I keep coming back because the program only asks for us to just breathe and be ourselves.”
Q: What motivated you to develop the Flourishing While Black program at CSC?
“While understanding that the Black experience at UVA is not a monolith, there are inevitable challenges that are common amongst Black students, one of which is finding your identity and sense of belonging. It can be difficult for Black students to understand who they are as individuals within the Black community and within UVA as a whole. Another challenge is the lack of resources and support in terms of financial inequity, health, and community resources. I have been exposed to these challenges on a personal level through my own college experience. With the lack of representation within UVA faculty, it is difficult for Black students to feel like they belong as well as relate to their administrators. I want these classes to be a resource for Black students, to help them feel comfortable expressing their doubts and concerns. Outside of the classes themselves, I want to be a role model for my students, to show that someone who looks like them can achieve great things. My personal philosophy is that I want to uplift people so that they feel important, deserving of joy, and loved on and off the mat. Non-white communities are often forgotten about and when they are remembered, the programs aren’t consciously curated for their needs. So I push for better-made programs that actually meet the needs of the community and are easily accessible for them to flourish.”
Q: What are your favorite practices to teach through these classes?
“I love teaching heart openers in my yoga classes, combining both fun vinyasa flows and deep yin stretches. I want people to leave my classes feeling lighter and brighter! So we always do a feel-good flow and end with a full 10-minute meditation in savasana [a resting pose that involves lying on one’s back with arms and legs extended]. One unique thing that our class does that the students respond well to is reading excerpts from the book Journey to the Heart. It’s a good way to help students absorb different ideas and positive mantras that ground them for the class. Another thing I like doing is check-ins, making sure I am aware of how the students are feeling before and after the class. Sometimes it’s the small things that help students learn and feel comfortable in a class.”
Q: What kind of feedback have you received from students in your classes?
“Students feel as though their needs are being considered. Even the little things like the newsletters I send out, having my pronouns, makes them feel safe and encouraged to engage. I have also seen the bonds between the students grow as the classes progress. They have a group chat together to discuss things about class and outside of class, which makes me happy to see. It is so wonderful how they have created a community for themselves that they can turn to on any occasion. I also see that the students are feeling more confident about going to other classes that CSC offers or even other UVA programming. Some of my students admit that before Flourishing While Black, they would not have felt comfortable going to a normal yoga class because they felt like it was not made for them. But after being in the program, they tell me how healing the classes are, how they love bettering themselves with other people who look like them, and how supported they feel.”
Q: What are your hopes for the future of the Flourishing While Black program?
“As for now, I just want students to know that these programs exist and spread the word to as many people as possible. Getting people involved is the first step to strengthening this community. Further in the future, I would also love to expand the programs to more than just Black students. We don’t make enough programming that is dedicated to specific groups of people and their unique experiences. Just me teaching classes outside of Flourishing While Black, I noticed that more non-white students have felt encouraged to participate. This shows how important it is for us to have diverse instructors who represent the large population of students at UVA. Ultimately, I hope that the UVA community feels like they have a safe, supportive and soothing space to be themselves and to take care of themselves, to develop more leaders in the contemplative sciences world, and to help more people live their best life.”
Please contact us if you have any questions about the Flourishing While Black program or if you would like to discuss customized programming for a specific community or organization.
General inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Advancement: Kayti Sewell at email@example.com
Communications: Ellen Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact information for additional CSC staff may be found here.