Just show up and bring a water bottle—mats provided
When one observes Thomas Redd take his yoga classes through the paces, it is obvious that he is passionate about his craft. It is likely that it’s this passion that has convinced teenagers and everyday working people in the Sumner Glenwood neighborhood of North Minneapolis to grab a mat and join him on Sunday nights in the community room of the Heritage Park leasing office.
“I grew up in the projects,” proclaimed Redd, an original “Northsider” as he likes to refer to himself. He had an interest in religion because he liked the idea of solitude and devotion to something higher than himself. He eventually saw yoga as a way to fulfill his need for solitude and meditation that also involved his body.
“I had just tried yoga once or twice when I was younger,” explained Ephraim Adams, who takes the age 14-18 class. “It was fun, and when I heard that the instructor [Redd] had gone to Bali, I was like, I really want to check this out. I liked it and have been coming every Sunday. In yoga you get to see the body do things that you don’t think it can do.”
Quiet Storm or slow, relaxing old-school music is what greets visitors as they enter the space in the Heritage Park Community room where Redd holds his sessions. He said he changes the music for the younger crowd to fit their preferences.
Redd holds yoga classes Sunday nights at 6:15 for teenagers and 7:30 for adults. Classes are free as a result of a sponsorship provided by the Heritage Park Neighborhood Association. Redd said folks simply need to show up and bring their water bottles. Mats are provided.
“I was into physical activity like weight lifting, running, but was constantly getting injured,” explained the instructor. “I had a membership at the YMCA and signed up for a yoga class about five years ago. I was hooked.”
He began to attend lots of yoga classes at The Firm in North Minneapolis and realized that there are a lot of wellness facilities in the city, but according to the Northsider, they were not “financially accessible”—too costly. He wanted to provide movement-based healing for Northside residents.
“I looked up a scholarship on Google about yoga. [I] found a Routes of Yoga headed by Stephanie Charles that gave a scholarship, which entailed study material and training in Bali. I learned about the physical and more importantly the spiritual aspects, like being able to calm the mind and release tension,” said Redd.
Through becoming a certified instructor, he learned about the importance of increasing one’s compassion while decreasing skeptical thoughts. It changed his thinking to the idea that “Everything comes from a good place.”
According to Redd, yoga, in essence, is the “secession of the fluctuation of the mind. You have to get a comfortable seat, so to speak—find a way of sitting that is comfortable. The idea is to calm the mind, make it easier to meditate.”
Local Northsiders interested in participating in the yoga class can email Redd at ThomasRedd2012@gmail.com.
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.