Over the past year, The Human Plant Project has uprooted a bit to bring yoga and mindfulness beyond New York City. Saskia has been on the road since September 2015, partnering with various schools and organizations around the world. Since leaving New York, she has taught in the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, Denmark, and Turkey. She will continue to spread Human Plant Project love abroad, beginning with an "Introduction to Yoga for Children and Teens" workshop to be held at the Eagleroad Kursuscenter in Skanderborg, Denmark this September! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with our latest activity and offerings!
And so begins our final week of classes of the school year. Classes at Achievement First Middle School, Still Waters in a Storm, Grand St Settlement, and at P.S. 81 with InspireCorps have been so wonderful. As teachers, we learn from our students every day and we are always so grateful for this opportunity. They are the reason for everything that we do.
Although the school year is coming to an end, we have lots of exciting things coming up! This Thursday, InspireCorps is hosting their annual benefit (tickets here: www.inspirecorps.org) to help fund all of their programming for the next school year. Saskia will be there leading mini meditation and chair yoga workshops for guests.
Our Yoga Para Las Madres class with Ximena is currently on hold until July, giving us time to raise some funds and organize a great summer series for the mamas!
In July, we are partnering up with The Advice Project for the Teen Global Leadership and Empowerment Summit in PERU! Yoga and meditation will be a part of the daily morning ritual during the summit. We also managed to collect enough mat donations from the Bushwick community for all of our group leaders and teen participants!
Finally, we will continue yoga and mindfulness classes at Still Waters in a Storm in July and August. We have a busy summer coming up! Feel free to contact us for more information or if you are interested to volunteer with us over the summer!
Photo: Saskia at Still Waters in a Storm with students Haley and Katey.
Have you ever experienced a time when every part of your being was in the moment? If so, you have experienced mindfulness.
Mindfulness is something that we work on with our students during every Human Plant Project class. Through these classes, we give our students tools to become more mindful of their bodies, their breath, their surroundings, and the thought traffic of their minds. We encourage our students to use these tools is everyday situations. Through mindfulness, they can hit their own "pause" button in any situation and give themselves the space to respond rather than to react.
Mastering mindfulness is a life-long process, so that is why we practice. And we keep practicing. Not only do we encourage our students to practice, but as teachers, we must continue to practice as well. We are best at our jobs when we teach mindfully (which can be very difficult when there are 30 silly kids jumping all over the room). Teaching mindfully allows us to notice what is happening in the room, with each of our students, and within ourselves.
This is video is a great introduction to mindfulness! Take 5 minutes out of your day to learn more!
"The video offers a basic understanding of mindfulness but it also aims to evoke your memory of experiencing what it feels like to be mindful. Most of us have already experienced being mindful before.
We've entered it spontaneously, maybe many times in our lives, but with a bit of training it's possible to be mindul at any time we choose- even to make it a way of living our lives. That is a truly wonderful way to live!
Simply noticing a thought is a form of mindfulness - if your watching it as an impartial observer. Truly listening to a loved one is a form of mindfulness too - when we're not up in our heads planning what to say next. Sometimes these kind of experiences are so subtle that we don't notice them.
Also, it's worth noting that mindfulness does not always feel like "a deep sense of connectedness with life suddenly emerges. Everything feels alive, radiates energy and emanates sacredness."
Sometimes it can be challenging as we learn to take in the full spectrum of lifes experiences (including difficult emotions, pain and the like) without resistance or clinging. I want to acknowledge that its a journey - this thing called mindful living - a beautiful journey. Like any good journey or adventure there are ups and downs."
Last week, Human Plant Project founder and instructor, Saskia Layden, was interviewed by DNAinfo NYC about her Mindful Writing class at P.S. 81 which began recently in partnership with InspireCorps.
InspireCorps is a resource designed to promote and create artist-led teaching programs in NYC public schools. With award-winning authors, famous musicians and world-renowned dancers abound in the city, budgets and scheduling often prevent kids from access to such talent. InspireCorps intends to create equal opportunities for children across all income levels to participate in these academically and socially critical programs.
The Human Plant Project began its partnership with Inspire Corps in 2015 in order to bring "Mindful Writing" to the students of P.S. 81 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. "Mindful Writing" involves many aspects of yoga and meditation and is based on the journaling component of our typical yoga classes at Achievement First Middle School and Still Waters in a Storm. The Human Plant Project is also currently developing a mindfulness and yoga workshop for the teachers and administrative staff of P.S. 81 in order to extend programming to the hand-working adults that serve these students every day.
Click here to read the article and learn more about our new partnership with InspireCorps!
Yesterday we had the great honor and blessing of teaching the first of the current 4-week series of our new Yoga Para Las Madres classes. These classes are for the mothers of Bushwick who are still in the process of learning English and who currently to not have access to typical studio yoga classes in the community (due to language and/or financial barriers). It is so incredible to see the powerful effects that taking just 1 hour out of their day to just simply breathe and be in their bodies has on them (all of us who practice yoga already know this quite intimately) ... and how that can (and most likely, will) trickle out into all aspects of their lives with continued practice! We would love to continue to offer them this opportunity throughout the rest of the year so we are currently working to raise funds to make that possible (only $2500 funds this class for a full year)! The money will not only be used to continue to offer these classes to the mothers for free, but also to obtain yoga props for them to help facilitate and deepen their practice. Any little bit that you can help contribute (even just $1 adds up) would be much appreciated!
Donation can be made here: www.gofundme.com/YogaParaLasMadres
Thank you so much in advance, for your love and support!
The Human Plant Project
Today we had our first ever "Yoga para las Madres" class. This was a beautiful class led completely in Spanish by our newest instructor, Ximena Milagros Savitch and assisted by Saskia Layden and Laura Maria Nesci (see bios on our Who We Are page).
These women are the mothers of our students at Still Waters in a Storm. This was their first experience with yoga and we are so proud and humbled by their courage to take an hour out of their day to nurture and love themselves, something that can often be very hard to do.
We are currently seeking funding to make this class a permanent part of our programming. It was a beautiful experience for all of us and we want to keep the momentum going! Please share!! Amor y paz!
Leah Fox of Charm & Magic has very generously offered to donate a portion of her sales to The Human Plant Project!!! All proceeds will contribute to more FREE yoga classes for teens and adults in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In particular, we are hoping to offer new classes for a group of local teen girls as well as for some of the parents of our students who have very limited access to yoga and other self-care practices due to financial and language barriers.
About Charm & Magic:
Charm & Magic came to life as a physical representation of Leah's love for yoga + spirituality and her desire for creativity and self-expression. Leah creates mini malas as tools for people to be able to connect with themselves in a world that is moving so incredibly fast. Minis malas are necklaces strung with 108 beads and a unique charm. They are a playful spin on the traditional japa mala, which is used for meditation and prayer. These mini malas are handmade and one of a kind.They exist for your prayer and mantra practice or simply to wear for connection and protection. You can run your fingers over each bead during your meditation, morning commute, or any moments of pause in your day.
If you are looking for gifts this holiday season or just a treat for yourself, you not only will receive a beautiful, one-of-a-kind mini mala, but you will be supporting local art and FREE yoga programs for teens, and adults in Brooklyn. Check out Leah's website to browse her collection! Namaste!
In honor of Halloween, today we will be talking about fear and the "masks we wear"...something that we all experience on many days outside of Halloween. Do you feel that there is a "mask" you sometimes wear in this world? What is it that you are afraid of?
Many times we hide who we really our to protect ourselves from the things we fear (rejection, alienation, insecurity, etc). Today in yoga class at Achievement First Middle School, we will be exploring these ideas by talking and writing in our journals. And we will work on releasing some of our built-up fears and anxieties by moving our bodies and liberating our breath.
Listening is an act of love.
This is more important than ever. Kids are constantly told, "focus on school work,"" sit still," "listen to your teacher!" But are they being told to listen to each other? Every child has a story that matters and they must be listened to. When they are listened to, it tells them that they are important and that their lives matter.
What does listening have to do with yoga and mindfulness?
Yoga is ultimately about love. In yoga class, we practice different ways to nurture and care for our precious bodies, minds, and spirits. When we have the tools we need to love and care for ourselves, we are better equipped to love and care for each other.
Today in our 90 minute class at Achievement First Middle School, we will breathe together, move intentionally and thoughtfully together, and take the time to really listen to each other.