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Ahimsa Activism: Third Root

What does your organization do to promote non-violence?

We recognize that oppression in all of its complex, intersecting manifestations (systemic, institutional, interpersonal & internal) - affects us body, mind and spirit. Oppression creates physical, emotional & spiritual violence. We therefore center the experiences and needs of marginalized communities, while supporting the healing of all beings.

Our practitioners mirror our community; we come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. We offer income-based sliding scale services, by donation classes, and affinity group yoga programming (such as Queer & Trans Yoga, Yoga for Folks of Color, Yoga for Abundant Bodies). We always provide skillful caring services that treat the whole being. Community-based, democratic, sustainable, health justice is non-violence; at Third Root nothing matters to us more.

We are also active in supporting local & national social movements against violence. On Sunday June 19th, we held a vigil space for Orlando during our weekly Queer & Trans Yoga class which spilled onto the sidewalk with candles, flowers and song. We will be marching behind our banner in the Trans Day of Action March on June 24 - join us (for details, email:

This month, we attended the Allied Media Conference and will be participating in the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives Conference on June 25, as well as the

Can you give us an example of someone’s life that has been made better through this work?

Many community members find refuge here. One of our beloved yoga teachers and neighbors, Shri Devi Grier-Diehl, told me why, for her, Third Root is close to home. ”It is a rare sight in NYC to see other Black teachers and variety of body types in a yogic space. It’s one place that I could go to practice and be seen - it's good to be seen. I’m not exoticized there, it’s familiar and not superficial.”

Shri Devi teaches an affinity group class called Yoga for Abundant Bodies.* A regular student from this class was experiencing domestic violence and said the class was was the only safe space she could easily access.

We periodically host Yoga for Survivors. One student was empowered to leave her abuser, and spoke about it in class. Another student, a cisgendered man, offered to help her move out safely the next week. Yet another student offered their pick-up truck.

Earlier this week, a straight, Orthodox Jewish woman and regular student of mine said, “My grief for Orlando wouldn’t have been the same two years ago before coming here. At Third Root, I’ve built relationships with queer and trans people for the first time; it’s really opened my eyes to the beauty of humanity.”

Who inspires you?

We are inspired by each other as healers who are healing. We are inspired by our community members who actively pursue conscious living in countless sectors as nurses, food service workers, postal workers, writers, union organizers, affordable housing advocates, mothers, public school teachers, gardeners, therapists, judges, local business owners, retail workers, artists, social justice educators, retirees, students, accountants, dancers, social workers, carpenters, filmmakers, nannies and on, and on.

We serve over 200,000 individuals annually and each person brings a valuable perspective, each person carries their healing into the world beyond the treatment room or the yoga mat.

How can someone participate or volunteer with your organization?

We have an excellent volunteer program where community members can offer their time and skill through clerical work, maintenance, marketing, design, and more for a minimum commitment of 3 months. We offer positions based on availability & by application. More details by clicking here.

We are in the development stages of an apprenticeship program which will mentor practitioners new to the field of acupuncture, massage, yoga & herbal medicine. This will be an equal opportunity apprenticeship by application that aims to empower practitioners from marginalized communities; program to launch Fall 2016. Contact &

*Shri Devi next facilitates this program on Saturday July 16th, 2016

--Emily J. Kramer for Third Root

--illustration by Eliana Pérez

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