How a wellness nonprofit for Houston’s BIPOC community is making moves this week

Davina Davidson is making moves this week.

Her nonprofit, Melanin Moves Project, which connects, educate and inspire members of the BIPOC community on the benefits of overall wellness, is hosting a one-day wellness event, complete with workshops and seminars about movement, meditation and healthy living.

The Wellness Expo is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Yoga Tres, 5427 Bellaire. The cost to attend is on a sliding scale, ranging from $30 to $100.

During the event, guests can catch a stretch therapy demo with Davina, founder and president of Melanin Moves. Attendees will also learn about restorative yoga with instructor Shawn Moore and try a “sweat date” with HIIT coach Bertha Rials.

Chiropractor Kiva Davis will provide a playful rocket yoga class, healer Raquel Nweze will lead a session on essential oils and chakras, and instructor Maria Powell will offer a joint efficiency workshop.

Other presenters include Zevi Ramos, James Elvis Lynn III, Jordan Lynn, Denetrya Brookins and Acufunkture Integrative Medicine.

To register for the Wellness Expo, visit

“The Expo is two-fold,” Davina said. “One, it is a celebration of melanated teachers and educators with a wealth of knowledge, and two, it is so fun and exciting to meet new people along your movement journey.”

Her sister Amaris Davidson, community outreach program chair for Melanin Moves Project, said previous iterations of the expo were held online due to the pandemic. This year, she’s looking forward to being in-person again.

“There’s something so powerful about being around other people on their wellness journey,” she said. “They’re interested in the same tools and resources. To be able to provide that is awesome.”

Connect, educate and inspire

The Wellness Expo is just one of the ways Melanin Moves seeks to build awareness of health.

“We educate from childhood all the way to adulthood,” said Davina, whose main goal is to encourage movement. “There’s not one right way – but you have to move.”

The organization offers workshops year round on various topics, as well as teacher training and mentorship for yoga instructors. Currently, courses are offered virtually. Before the pandemic, spaces were rented for in-person events.

Last fall, Melanin Moves began a collaboration with chef Denetrya Brookins to add a greater focus on nutrition. This month, the nonprofit is launching a men’s program.

“We strive to create a space where men can fully embrace themselves,” Davina said.

The program will center on mental, physical and spiritual well-being, incorporate activism and service, and provide the tools and resources to BIPOC men.

Melanin Moves Project also works with youth and joined with leadership development organization Train Up A Champion to offer a curriculum.

Finding ways to connect and collaborate to reach greater heights is a top priority for the Project. Melanin Moves works with a number of BPIOC-owned businesses that are also interested in wellness. Partners range from the art haven Project Row Houses to Shape Community Center, which offers programs and activities to all individuals of African descent.

Shifting to a broader focus

The organization began in 2017, as the Melanin Yoga Project.

Davina had gone from working as a school teacher to a yoga instructor. The realization that yoga classes were often filled with white, affluent students made her want to change the equation: According to a 2002 survey in 2002, 85 percent of yoga practitioners were white.

Creating Melanin Yoga Project was Davidson’s response – and the nonprofit made yoga available to BPIOC communities, at school and in community centers.

She also started training instructors and offering courses to studios.

Amaris recalled taking Davina to her first yoga class, then watching as Davina became a teacher and started Melanin Yoga Project. Amaris, who was living in LA at the time, would sign up for Davina’s classes whenever she visited Houston. She also took the Melanin Yoga Project’s online teacher certification, with a final in-person session at the conclusion.

“Davina started online well before the pandemic,” Amaris said with a smile.

When Davina reached out in February 2020 to offer her sister a role in the growth of the organization, Amaris was unsure what she could contribute. But Davina convinced her that the seven years she soent on her church’s connection team, building community relations, provided just the right experience.

“It’s the same thing,” Davina reminded her.

Amaris jumped on board. “I’ve been here ever since,” she said.

Soon after, Davina broadened the focus of Melanin Yoga Project to include other types of movement and wellness in general.

“It’s important for us to create a space for everyone – whether you’re a yoga person or you’ve never even practiced yoga,” she said. “We can do all the things. We don’t have to do just one.”

In June 2021, the nonprofit’s name changed to Melanin Moves Project with a more expanded mission.

“The expansion came from many realizations,” Davina said. “Yoga is not the only path to healing or liberation for melanated folks. We were missing important pillars like social justice initiatives, nutrition and mental health awareness.”

Her board approved to the new vision.

“Yoga is a niche market,” Amaris said. “Now we’re adding mental health, social justice and nutrition. You can see so many doors opening.”

Moving forward

The non-profit has been moving full-steam ahead since its summer pivot.

Each week, Amaris said, there’s a Monday brainstorming meeting. Then there are quarterly meet-ups with community partners.

She and Davina are always talking strategy.

“She likes to have a long vision,” Amaris said. “She wants to have a community center one day, where everyone can come from everywhere. And I’m down for the journey.”

Davina envisions a brick-and-mortar center in the future. “And not just one, we could have pop-ups all around the U.S.,” she said. “I know that I have to dream big.”

In the meantime, she is launching Melanin Moves TV, which can be accessed from anywhere.

In 2018, she started the platform as “Yoga with Davina.” After the pandemic, and the expansion, she changed the channel’s name – and focus. There are a number of live courses, as well as a video library.

“We are back recording,” Davina said. “There will be cooking classes, talks and programs for kids as well.”

The nonprofit is run on completely by volunteers – and needs more to move forward. Currently, Davina is focused on sharing the Melanin Movement Project with the community.

“I want people to know about our offerings,” she said. “This exists in your city. And we’re here to stay. We have a desire to impact as many people as we can.”

Amaris agreed. “We’re making wellness accessible – and you don’t have to do it alone,” she said. “We’re creating a community. And this can go as far as we want it to.”

“We are so ready to just go,” Davina added. “We’re making an imprint. It might be small, but it’s just the beginning.”

Lindsay Peyton is a Houston-based freelance writer.

Open chat
thank you for contacting us, for more information,
please chat