Retreat Facilitators

Dameta Wright

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The first time Dameta walked into a martial arts class was fifteen years ago. On the advice of a trusted friend, she began to take Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) Tai Chi classes because she was having trouble sleeping after losing her mother. She never knew that martial arts could be taught from a perspective that honors people of African descent. She never knew that martial arts could be healing to the spirit, bringing focus to the mind, as well as protecting the body. This was just the beginning of her amazing journey.

Following Tai Chi, Dameta began to take classes in Kemetic Gung Fu. This is a complete martial arts and sciences system that teaches a student to heal the spirit, mind and body. She earned her first rank in this system ten years ago. Since then, with diligent practice, she is now the highest-ranking female student in the system. As such, she is responsible for teaching others. She has chosen to focus her energy on teaching and training women how to protect and heal themselves. To that end, she teaches weekly classes and quarterly self-protection workshops designed exclusively for women.

Dameta’s training included the practice of Kemetic Yoga. The practice and the teachings left such an impression on her that when she decided to make a career change, she was moved to complete her 200-hour Kemetic Yoga Teacher Certification. Since then, she has completed 300-hour Foundational Yoga Teacher Training with Cincinnati’s World Peace Yoga and is enrolled in Advanced Teacher Training there as well. Since she became a yoga teacher, she has had the pleasure of teaching many students from diverse backgrounds. Those students have included trained ballet dancers, military veterans, first responders and children with special needs.

The belief that yoga is nourishing to the spirit, mind and body for anyone who chooses to practice is important to Dameta. The yoga mat should be a safe, healing space for any and every person that chooses to step upon it. Keeping these ideas in mind, she became a certified Yoga For All Teacher and creates classes that are welcoming to students who may be in bigger bodies. Also, because it is important to address the whole body, from the inside out, she is also creates trauma sensitive spaces for students that are informed by her Healing Trauma Through Yoga training..

Dameta believes that everything, including martial arts and yoga, begins with the breath. She has felt her own well-being improved through the power of using the breath. She invites all students to breathe, move and flow in their own unique way. Whether that is in martial arts class or on the yoga mat.

Phyllis Jeffers-Coly

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Phyllis is a Diasporic Soul who calls both North Carolina and Senegal, West Africa home.  She and her husband founded Diasporic Soul in order to offer leadership development and personal growth experiences for her fellow Diasporic Souls that include travel to Senegal, West Africa and yoga. Much like yoga, Diasporic Soul is fundamentally about recognizing and honoring our authentic selves, unapologetically.

Put another way,  Diasporic Soul is a “yes, yes y’all” to members of the African Diaspora  because we love Black people. Our soul. Our swagger. Our sabor. Our joie de vivre. Our creativity and ingenuity.  Our differences and diversity.  Our spirit of resilience and resistance.

As a Diasporic Soul who has been practicing yoga for over ten years, Phyllis always wanted to see more Black folks on the mats beside her.  She was frequently and often disappointed.  As a result,  she is invested in introducing members of the African Diaspora to yoga and its capacity to contribute to our individual and collective grounding, centering and healing. Its capacity to feed our individual and collective Diasporic Souls.  And our capacity to breathe, to find calm in the chaos. So, she integrates restorative yoga into the travel experiences she curates and her leadership development approach.  She understands that yoga offers us access to greater self-awareness, serenity and strength as we seek to create change in our communities, our society and the world.

In addition to her time as a yoga practitioner, Phyllis completed her foundational 300-hour yoga teacher training with Cincinnati-based World Peace Yoga, which is how she met Dameta.  She has also completed True Body Project training, which is a somatics-focused or body-awareness-informed approach for working with young women to develop their self-awareness, self-confidence and leadership capacity.  Phyllis comes to this work with twenty-plus years of teaching and facilitation experience that includes designing and facilitating leadership development workshops and programs for youth workers, community organizers, immigrant women, daycare workers, college-age young adults and high school students.