A Space for Peace

 Rinaya Buick, 9, meditates during yoga class at the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Indigo Monae, who leads many of the yoga classes, often speaks of the importance of a "sense of self," something she teaches through meditation. "It's very meaningful, because if you don't have a sense of self, like, how are you going to love yourself? You know, if you don't know who are you, how do you know how to love yourself?" she said. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Rinaya Buick, 9, meditates during yoga class at the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Indigo Monae, who leads many of the yoga classes, often speaks of the importance of a "sense of self," something she teaches through meditation. "It's very meaningful, because if you don't have a sense of self, like, how are you going to love yourself? You know, if you don't know who are you, how do you know how to love yourself?" she said. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

 Indigo Monae leads a yoga class at the Yoga Gardens space Monday, July 2, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Monae is yoga teacher who saw a need for a safe and peaceful community space while she was living in a building next to an empty lot in Lawndale. Over the past 8 years, with help from other volunteers in the yoga community and funds from classes taught at Montrose Beach, Monae transformed the empty lot into a lush garden with a deck for yoga practice, drawing in young and old from the neighborhood. While living in Lawndale, she found access to healthy food options troublesome, and after witnessing young people involved in violence and drug dealing outside their home, she and her friends decided, "First of all, we need food, we need to teach them yoga, we need something to make them feel at peace," she said. "So that's how it began, just some yogis wanting to share some love." (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Indigo Monae leads a yoga class at the Yoga Gardens space Monday, July 2, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Monae is yoga teacher who saw a need for a safe and peaceful community space while she was living in a building next to an empty lot in Lawndale. Over the past 8 years, with help from other volunteers in the yoga community and funds from classes taught at Montrose Beach, Monae transformed the empty lot into a lush garden with a deck for yoga practice, drawing in young and old from the neighborhood. While living in Lawndale, she found access to healthy food options troublesome, and after witnessing young people involved in violence and drug dealing outside their home, she and her friends decided, "First of all, we need food, we need to teach them yoga, we need something to make them feel at peace," she said. "So that's how it began, just some yogis wanting to share some love." (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

 Indigo Monae works in the Yoga Gardens space Sunday, May 13, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Monae is yoga teacher who saw a need for a safe and peaceful community space while she was living in a building next to an empty lot in Lawndale. At first, the space was an empty field covered with rubbish without much vegetation. One morning while she was meditating on her porch, she said, "I saw this 10-year-old boy with a huge line of older people, like, down the alley. I was like, 'What's going on? What's going on?' And then I realized he was selling drugs to all these grown people. I was like, 'Whoa!' And it wasn't regular drugs, it was like heroin and things." Over the past 8 years, with help from other volunteers in the yoga community and funds from classes taught at Montrose Beach, Monae transformed the empty lot into a lush garden with a deck for yoga practice. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Indigo Monae works in the Yoga Gardens space Sunday, May 13, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Monae is yoga teacher who saw a need for a safe and peaceful community space while she was living in a building next to an empty lot in Lawndale. At first, the space was an empty field covered with rubbish without much vegetation. One morning while she was meditating on her porch, she said, "I saw this 10-year-old boy with a huge line of older people, like, down the alley. I was like, 'What's going on? What's going on?' And then I realized he was selling drugs to all these grown people. I was like, 'Whoa!' And it wasn't regular drugs, it was like heroin and things." Over the past 8 years, with help from other volunteers in the yoga community and funds from classes taught at Montrose Beach, Monae transformed the empty lot into a lush garden with a deck for yoga practice. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

 Rayzell Buick, 6, helps Indigo Monae water plants at the Yoga Gardens space Monday, July 2, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. "We plant the veggies, they see it grows, like, 'I created that with my hand and I can eat it,'" she said. "I remember when we first started the veggies and the growing, and I was eating, this kid was like, "Uhh! What you doing? Eating dirt?' I was like, 'No man, this is good!' And then all of a sudden, every time he come in here, he's like 'Oh, I like this!'" (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Rayzell Buick, 6, helps Indigo Monae water plants at the Yoga Gardens space Monday, July 2, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. "We plant the veggies, they see it grows, like, 'I created that with my hand and I can eat it,'" she said. "I remember when we first started the veggies and the growing, and I was eating, this kid was like, "Uhh! What you doing? Eating dirt?' I was like, 'No man, this is good!' And then all of a sudden, every time he come in here, he's like 'Oh, I like this!'" (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

 Peppers grown in the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Peppers grown in the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

 Rayzell Buick, 6, center, and Camaijah Duff, 6, draw on the fence at the entrance to the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Buick, who lives across the street, helps out founder Indigo Monae on an almost daily basis. "Like, some of their parents won't let them outside of the house," said Monae, because of some of the violence that often plagues Lawndale. "Can you image being 6 or 7 years old, you can't go out of the house, you're just in the house all day? They come in here and they just feel like, 'whoa.' They had a good day, they got move around, and their parents are ok with that because then they go to sleep. And then when the veggies grow, they leave here with veggies to give to their parents. So it's like, it's a nice place for them to come and relax." (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Rayzell Buick, 6, center, and Camaijah Duff, 6, draw on the fence at the entrance to the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Buick, who lives across the street, helps out founder Indigo Monae on an almost daily basis. "Like, some of their parents won't let them outside of the house," said Monae, because of some of the violence that often plagues Lawndale. "Can you image being 6 or 7 years old, you can't go out of the house, you're just in the house all day? They come in here and they just feel like, 'whoa.' They had a good day, they got move around, and their parents are ok with that because then they go to sleep. And then when the veggies grow, they leave here with veggies to give to their parents. So it's like, it's a nice place for them to come and relax." (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

 Volunteer Charlie Renison helps Rayzell Buick, 6, do a headstand during yoga class at the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Renison has been helping out in the gardens for five years. "The volunteers that come in here, they love it," said Indigo Monae, who has many friends in the Chicago yoga community who regularly help out. "Like, the kids love it, they want hugs, they remember them by name. That's why I like volunteers who can continuously come, because then like...a lot of people come into these kids' lives and they just disappear. So, a volunteer like Charlie who can be here for a few years, is really good, because then they develop a connection, they develop a love, they feel safe, and they can talk to us." (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Volunteer Charlie Renison helps Rayzell Buick, 6, do a headstand during yoga class at the Yoga Gardens space Wednesday, June 27, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Renison has been helping out in the gardens for five years. "The volunteers that come in here, they love it," said Indigo Monae, who has many friends in the Chicago yoga community who regularly help out. "Like, the kids love it, they want hugs, they remember them by name. That's why I like volunteers who can continuously come, because then like...a lot of people come into these kids' lives and they just disappear. So, a volunteer like Charlie who can be here for a few years, is really good, because then they develop a connection, they develop a love, they feel safe, and they can talk to us." (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

 Volunteer Trina Gerardi paints the face of Camaijah Duff, 6, during a community gathering event at the Yoga Gardens space Thursday, June 28, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Indigo Monae said she wanted to have an informal opening of the season for the gardens, because the space is not open every day and is closed during the winter. "So, the barbecue was a way to show the community like, 'Hey, we're here, we're still here, we're open, come in. This is for you.' And they enjoyed it. They loved it," she said. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Volunteer Trina Gerardi paints the face of Camaijah Duff, 6, during a community gathering event at the Yoga Gardens space Thursday, June 28, 2018, in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Indigo Monae said she wanted to have an informal opening of the season for the gardens, because the space is not open every day and is closed during the winter. "So, the barbecue was a way to show the community like, 'Hey, we're here, we're still here, we're open, come in. This is for you.' And they enjoyed it. They loved it," she said. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Indigo Monae is yoga teacher who saw a need for a safe and peaceful community space while she was living in a building next to an empty lot in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Over the past 8 years, with help from other volunteers in the yoga community and funds from classes taught at Montrose Beach, Monae transformed the empty lot into a lush garden with a deck for yoga practice, drawing in young and old from the neighborhood. While living in Lawndale, she found access to healthy food options troublesome, and after witnessing young people involved in violence and drug dealing outside their home, she and her friends decided, “First of all, we need food, we need to teach them yoga, we need something to make them feel at peace,” she said. “So that’s how it began, just some yogis wanting to share some love.”

Link to Chicago Tribune story by Heidi Stevens: How a yoga garden nourishes the soul of a West Side block