by Shawn Nowlin
Last Saturday morning, Total Action for Progress (TAP), a longtime Roanoke non-profit organization, hosted a free educational course on improving one’s wellness at Roanoke’s Higher Education Center. It’s not too late for those who were unable to attend to still become a “H.O.O.D.” an acronym for Health, Optimism, Ownership and Discipline, Healer.
The atmosphere in the room was friendly and festive. Those present say the event was just as informative as it was enjoyable. To ensure the best experience possible for all involved, considerable training in yoga, self-care, affirmations, and meditation was offered.
Antonio Stovall, a TAP Professor, strongly believes that words carry more weight when the person talking knows what they speak. At this stage in his life, Stovall, 38, is committed to helping as many people as possible reach their full potential.
“When I came up with the ‘H.O.O.D. Healer’s concept, the mission was to give members of the community the tools and techniques they need to empower even more people,” Stovall said. “The importance and benefits of yoga and meditation aren’t discussed much in the African American community. I want to do everything in my power to change stigmas and break down stereotypes.”
Like Stovall, Nina Leigh wants people to reimagine the concept of holistic medicine. Because she grew up in a nonmaterial household, alternative healing approaches have never been foreign to Leigh. Openly embracing holistic practices is something Leigh says the African American community should do more.
Explaining when her spiritual journey began, Leigh said, “It’s often said that we are products of our environment. I am lucky because both of my parents encouraged me to learn about holistic practices at an early age. Sometimes when I give recommendations to family and friends, I’m met with reluctance. But for the most part, people are receptive towards my suggestions.”
Stovall discovered the importance of mindfulness in 2005 when he was in college. “That discovery changed the trajectory of my life. Not only did I make drastic changes to my eating habits, but I also began making deeper connections, both professionally and professionally too,” he said. “In a nutshell, I fundamentally changed the way that I approached life. Investing in yourself is the best long-term investment you can make.”
To get a better understanding of Stovall’s teachings, he encourages individuals to attend his African American curriculum course at William Fleming High School, which is held for both students and the community at large. The feedback Stovall has received so far has been, in his words, “overwhelmingly positive.”
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