PROTECT YOUR PEACE: Yogamosa instructor Maya Morris prepares for festival in Jackson

Published 2:49 pm Friday, October 13, 2023

The name Maya Morris has become synonymous with yoga in Vicksburg, and now the Jackson-based instructor is inviting the River City to her turf for a special event.

Morris is a Lululemon ambassador, and through the athletic brand recently became the first recipient of a Community Initiative Fund grant from Mississippi.

“I own the first Black-owned yoga studio in Central Mississippi. That has opened up so many doors for me,” Morris said. “I became a Lululemon Ambassador through the work I was doing in the community and my studio, and with that, they have different resources for ambassadors.”

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Applicants must send in a three-minute video to be judged against submissions from around the world. Joining Morris in the final five were applicants from Canada, Hong Kong, California and New York.

“I won $18,000. It’s amazing,” she said. “We’re the first in our region to win through Lululemon Ambassadors.”

With her grant money, Morris is hosting the Protect Your Peace festival at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson on Oct. 22, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Jacksonian Media is producing a documentary feature on Morris’ journey as a CI Fund grant recipient and will lead digital media efforts at the festival.

Morris, who is based in Jackson, first began teaching yoga in Vicksburg as part of the Vicksburg National Military Park’s summer “Yoga in the Park” program. From there, she met local business owner and yogi Lori Fagan.

“I met Maya at the Military Park on her first day teaching there this summer,” Fagan said. “The next class, I asked if she would follow me to our building downtown for an idea I had. She walked into the space and said, ‘I want to teach here.’ She has become connected to Vicksburg in a beautiful way and I really want Vicksburg to show our support for her.”

Since their first meeting, Fagan has recruited Morris to teach classes as part of the Rose at Clay Street’s Yogamosa and Wine-down Wednesday series, which pairs a relaxing yoga practice with mimosas and wine tastings from John Houston’s Fine Wines and Good Spirits on the first floor.

Teaching yoga in Vicksburg has been a rewarding experience, Morris said, as she finds joy in helping others learn more about their bodies and minds through movement.

“I want to continue to spread this message and bring awareness to yoga and to the people in our communities that feel like they don’t have access to it,” Morris said. “Everybody should feel like they have access to yoga and know what it is because of the amazing benefits of it.”

The Protect Your Peace Festival, or PYP Fest for short, will feature a variety of workshops and activities for participants. Even people who aren’t interested in taking their stressors to the mat are welcome, as the festival will include musical performances, guided meditations, art installations and even a journaling workshop.

PYP Fest is designed to support people throughout their wellness journeys, no matter who or where they are.

In addition to performances and exercise classes led by Morris and other regional instructors, Lululemon will provide special incentives for PYP Fest attendees.

“We have a massage therapist; the first 20 to 30 people at the festival will get free massages, and we’re going to have a mini Lululemon store,” Morris said. “The first 30 people who get there get free Lululemon leggings or males can get joggers.”

For more information about the event, follow the Protect Your Peace Foundation on Facebook or @PYPfest on Instagram.

“I feel like this is my mission,” Morris said. “This is what I’m supposed to be doing, spreading this message, and I’ll go wherever yoga takes me.”