If words like namaste, Om, asana and Shanti make you want to tune out of a conversation, you may want to tune back in. Vocabulary like this comes from a southern Indian language known as Sanskrit. Sanskrit is frequently used when practicing the moves of yoga.
Yoga has been lauded for its many physical and mental benefits. The movements of yoga have been credited with relieving chronic pain and are used as a form of mental health therapy.
It is difficult to find a yoga space in Wards 7 and 8, but one man has created a holistic health and wellness space with open doors for people with open minds.
Meet H. Alejaibra Badu, a 35-year-old yoga instructor, intuitive life and love coach, energy healer. He hails from North Carolina but has lived in many places before settling in DC nine years ago. “I consider myself a nomadic,” he states with a smile.
Badu is also the founder and proprietor of Madison House, a healing space in Ward 8 that he named after his daughter. Badu settled on the U Street SE location because he wanted his work to be accessible for his targeted audience. “I always said that I love my people. So how dare I have gifts that can reach my people and then make them travel to Northwest to find me. Why not be right here pumping a light that’s different? It only made sense for me to be in Southeast in the middle of it all.”
Badu says that after leaving the healthcare profession, yoga fell into his path and he followed the light. “Yoga found me. When the spirit of yoga hits you, you find yourself moving and breathing and stretching. That was the journey. I’ve always been a dancer, and then when I moved into holistic practices yoga was my next step. I’ve been a holistic practitioner for three years.” In addition to yoga and life coaching, he works as a death doula. “It is peaceful and honorable to be a death doula. To be in a sacred space to provide ease and comfort in their space of transition.”
What is Madison House? It’s a place to let it out. The “it” that visitors release can be anything from stress to tears, to laughter, to breath to body parts. Madison House was started by Badu in 2016 with the intention to be that confidential open space where people can release fear long enough to let love in.
Badu designed the space to be welcoming, from the art to the colors to the scents. “I would like for everyone to be comfortable. That’s why I allow my energy to be inviting. You are always home at the Madison House. A lot of times people don’t feel at home in their own homes, so it’s important that I make people comfortable and let them know it’s okay to express themselves, to feel themselves, to honor themselves. For some people these are new thoughts. We’re never told to put ourselves first. We’re told to do everything for everyone else and save five seconds for yourself, if that. Giving a person permission to pause, breathe and reflect is important at the Madison House.”
Madison House offers varied events such as guided meditation, hug therapy, full moon naked yoga and the crying room, just to mention a few.
Yoga is a set of movements fashioned to increase breathing and mobility in order to release energy and multiply tranquility. With the help of a trained instructor, students work on poses that exercise the seven different chakras of the body: root, sacral or pelvic, navel, heart, throat, third-eye and crown.
Although it may sound like a pious sect, yoga is not religion. “It’s a prayer of sorts,” explains Badu. “Yoga is silencing. It’s a stillness. Any time that you are in a place of stillness you are able to hear more from the spirit. You are able to hear more from yourself. You’re able to hear more from universal forces. Yoga isn’t religion. You have a lot of people in the Christian world who are told to pray to this man to get to this god, and if you do it any other way then it’s wrong. Yoga has nothing to do with that. Essentially it’s about aligning your body with the central flow of life.”
Madison House offers marijuana-induced yoga classes on Sunday. It may sound a bit unorthodox but it’s actually becoming the norm in states where cannabis is legal. Badu’s class is a part of a growing trend. There have been claims that the combination of yoga poses and select strains of marijuana can be beneficial for sleep, lower-body pain relief and energy. Badu also makes cultural connections in his herbal ascension class. “Herbal ascension is speaking about the spiritual aspects of the herb cannabis. In this class we talk about the ways that the ancestors did it. We speak about the Dogons out of Mali in West Africa. We speak about the Rastafarian culture. We speak about the southern Indian culture and their goddess named Shiva. Our ancestors embraced the herb. Cannabis itself is a medicinal plant. So you’re able to spend time infusing your energy with this plant. And then you reach a higher level within yourself.”
Herbal ascension class has been going on for the last 18 months with loyal followers. The Sunday afternoon gathering begins with partaking in the herb and then moves into the chakra of the day. “We provide the herb for the class. Sometimes we do herbs that you can smoke. Sometimes we do herbs that you can vape. Or we offer it in a tincture. And in teas. I make some amazing teas.”
Madison House invites newcomers. Visit www.themadisonhousedc.com or call 202-427-7192.
Candace Y.A. Montague is the health reporter for Capital Community News. Follow her on Twitter @urbanbushwoman9.