A celebration of the ECP Yoga Ambassadors

Last week Wednesday was a morning of honouring our local yoga ambassadors who have each supported Earthchild Project in a unique and generous way. It was a great time to show our appreciation to our ambassadors and to highlight the value of Seva in our yoga journeys. “Seva” is a Sanskrit word meaning “selfless service” or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment. In ancient India seva was believed to help one’s spiritual growth and at the same time contribute to the improvement of a community. Without a doubt a true description of the work that our ambassadors do for ECP.

Read more

Young Leaders honouring our teachers this Mandela Day

This year, Earthchild Project took a different spin on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018. While there were many organisations and individuals who supported us through donating money or giving time in support of Earthchild Project, our facilitators, junior staff and Young Leaders chose to give back in a creative way, where it really matters! And so, they created The Pamper Your Teacher Day for all of our four schools in Khayelitsha – a special day just to honour our unsung heroes who devote so much time and energy to nurturing our earthchildren.

Read more

Earthchild Project Ambassador Spotlight – Melissa Brake and Erin Sprong

Over the years, there have been a number of really special yoga teachers who have dedicated a lot of time and energy into supporting Earthchild Project and being a driving force behind the work that we do. In order to honour these people, we have initiated an Earthchild Project Ambassador Programme. And we are proud to introduce you to our second and third ambassador, Melissa Brake and Erin Sprong. Melissa owns Yogaway Yoga studio in Newlands where both her and Erin teach. These two incredible women have selflessly been dedicated to teaching Monday yoga classes in Khayelitsha for many years and their motivation has never wavered.

Read more

EARTHCHILD PROJECT AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT – SCHALK VILJOEN

Over the years, there have been a number of really special yoga teachers who have dedicated a lot of time and energy into supporting Earthchild Project and being a driving force behind the work that we do. In order to honour these people, we have initiated an Earthchild Project Ambassador Programme. And we are proud to introduce you to our first ambassador, Schalk Viljoen. Schalk teaches Jivamukti classes in the Darmstadt, Mainz, Frankfurt & Basel area of Germany. We caught up with Schalk to find out more about his yoga journey and why he cares so much about Earthchild Project.

Read more

The Earthchild Project 3rd annual Teachers Wellness Convention

Earthchild Projects’ 3rd annual Teachers Wellness Convention was held on Saturday 24 February 2018, and it was a huge success. With workshops ranging from healthy cooking demo’s to stress management, hormone balancing techniques, water saving tips and advice on how to follow your purpose and passion, the day was packed with wellness and holistic living education.

Read more

Eco-Warriors for Our Planet

Agbogbloshie: a polluted district in Accra, Ghana that is used as an international dumping ground for electronic waste – nicknamed “Sodom and Gomorrah” by locals due to its harsh living conditions.

“I don’t believe that the solutions in society will come from the left or the right or the north or the south. They will come from islands within those organizations, islands of people with integrity who want to do something.”
Karl-Henrik Robert – Founder of The Natural Step

This is part of what we hope our impact is at Earthchild Project – we hope that we are making an island of people who will grow up and start demanding change in their society, and in their world. By educating our earthchildren – our “eco-warriors” – in our schools on the environment and their impact upon it, we hope that this future generation will grow up and contribute to a global attitude of preserving our planet. We hope these children will grow up with a fire in their belly for environmental justice – especially since Africa is one of the most negatively affected continents when it comes to waste.

Read more

Waste-Free Solutions in Yoga

I will admit – in the yoga world, practitioners are for the most part, simply trying to practice self-love and care for other living beings – this is after all, the spiritual ethos of yoga – to “do no harm.” We’re doing the best we can in using yoga for health and goodness. Right?

We could do better. First of all, we can start the painful journey of looking inward and realizing that most of us are, to a certain extent, hypocrites in our yoga world bubble. When we begin our yoga class, we sit our toned bums (thanks yoga!), dressed in plastic material, on our PVC mats. Our practice of yoga is at the heart of our good health – and yet in the first few seconds of our daily practice we are breaking some SERIOUS health rules, not to mention the spiritual ethos of yoga – to “do no harm.”

Not only our clothes, but also the very physical foundations on which we practice are doing monumental harm. I’m talking about our mats. The more I research, the more disturbed I’ve become. Most yoga mats are made from PVC, short for polymerizing vinyl chloride. Simply typing that word – “chloride” – makes me think of that new mat smell – and subsequently feel a bit ill at all the times I’ve deeply inhaled it. Not only are PVC mats bad for our own health, the production of this material can be deadly for others. Yes, you read that right. PVC plants pump an excruciating amount of vinyl chloride into the atmosphere. When its entire life-cycle is considered, PVC releases more cancer-causing dioxins into the atmosphere than any other product. Each kg of PVC requires about 17kg of abiotic materials, mostly petrochemicals, as well as 680 liters of water and 11.6 kg of air (which of course is converted into greenhouse gases). PVC plants contaminate water around their facilities, causing serious damage on whole communities – most commonly increased risk of cancer and reproductive damage. All this so that your yoga mat can later go sit in a landfill for the rest of time. Woohoo!

Sorry guys. This is all quite depressing I know. Depressing but also crucial to meditate on when we consider our impact on the lives of others and our Mother Earth. But let’s cut to the positive part shall we? In terms of sustainable yoga mats, there is an increasing plethora of options out there. There are several companies completely dedicated to eco-friendly mats – most made from natural rubber from rubber trees, jute (a natural fiber), organic cotton, or thermoplastic elastomer (synthetic BUT has high potential for recyclability and uses less energy to manufacture). We have got to commend these brands for really trying to find a more sustainable options for our beloved mats. However, what if you could kill two birds with one stone?

Anna and Sophie, the founders of hejhej-mats, are doing just that. These two young women have managed to create a closed-loop, fully sustainable yoga mat – creating a healthy sustainable mat that ALSO uses old waste. Most of us are slowly waking up to the reality of waste on our planet – the landfills, the islands made entirely of trash. The hejhej goal: to create a mat in which the production alleviates the excessive exhaustion of resources. No new materials, only the use of old waste – “thereby tackling the problem of waste production and resource scarcity of our planet.” While other sustainable mats are still using natural rubber – which requires cutting down rubber trees – hejhej-mats makes use of one of our planet’s increasingly growing resource – waste itself. Completely closed-loop, hejhej-mats are made from waste, used long-term, recyclable, and then used for production again. What’s also great about their mats? They’re functional (not missing that much-needed slip resistance that many sustainable mats lack), and also quite beautiful. Because they are made from varying types of waste, each mat differs slightly in its appearance, making each unique.

When we sat down with Anna last week, the crowdfunding campaign for the production of hejhej-mats had just met its initial goal that morning. When we asked her about the conceptualization of hejhej mats, she told us of her and Sophie’s completion of their Masters in Leadership for Sustainability in Sweden (not only charming but intelligent too!) as well as their visit to an exhibition by Turkish artist, Pinar Yolda. Yolda’s artwork accused yoga practitioners of acting hypocritically since most of them practice yoga on unsustainable plastic mats, which end up in oceans or landfills. The exhibition impacted the two women, and they immediately set to work with the conceptualization of the circular hejhej-mat. Talking to her over coffee made it obvious to me how passionate and driven these two young German women were. You know those people whose entrepreneurial spirit captivates you and makes you want to jump onto their boat? Anna and Sophie are that.

I’m excited for where hejhej-mats will go. I’m inspired, and jumping onto that ship. Or I guess in this case, a hejhej-mat.

Go check them out on their website or crowdfunding page to donate, support, or simply learn more about hejhej-mats and sustainable closed-loop designs.

https://hejhej-mats.com

https://www.startnext.com/en/hejhej-mats-closed-loop-yoga-mats 

Connecting souls across cultures through yoga

@adidasZA
@adidasWomen
@chelseykorus
@cliopajczer
Photos by Niquita Bento: @xx_niquita_xx

It was such a joyful pleasure and privilege last week to be connected to three international yogis – Adriene Mishler, Clio Pajczer, and Chelsey Korus. To be able to host these three beautiful women was humbling and genuinely made for a really fun Friday! In partnership with adidas, these women made the trip halfway across the world to check out Earthchild Project’s work and to do some yoga with our Earthchildren in Kkayelitsha.

Read more

The Spinach King – A beacon of hope in the midst of Khayelitsha

The community of Khayelitsha, where Earthchild Project is present in 4 schools, is a very special one. The children are happy, smiling, and eager to learn and practice yoga, but their living and home situation is not always ideal, with some areas having families of 8-10 people living in one shack and having to walk up to 200 m for running water. Khayelitsha is one of the fastest growing townships in Cape Town and is prone to all different types of violence. Earthchild Project aims to help the children living in this environment to realise their potential and to create new possibilities for their lives.

Read more

Honouring our Earthchild Project Activists

Whether it be two young cousins from Cape Town selling coffee outside their school, an avid hiker from Johannesburg who decided to dedicate climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds, or even three young ladies from America who set a goal to sponsor 150 yoga mats; our activists know how to make things happen! We are so grateful for the support we received from these incredible women in 2016, that we wanted to honour them for their successful Activist Projects.

Read more

Earthchild Spotlight: Sisonke Sifo

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we will be highlighting 10 remarkable Earthchildren from the past and present. Sisonke Sifo is the second of our dedications to the youth. Sisonke is 9 years old and attends Sakumlandela Primary School in Khayelitsha. She is a talented young yogi who is excited to share her story, which she starts with a huge smile on her face.

Read more

Boost Memory: Climb a tree and practise yoga

By practicing dynamic yoga, climbing a tree or balancing on a beam you can significantly improve your working memory. Researchers at the University of North Florida have found that proprioceptively dynamic activities, or activities that bring awareness to the relative positions of the neighboring parts of the body through movement, where one navigates space , improve our cognitive skills.

Why is your working memory important? Have you ever gone to the store with a short list of goods to buy, and forgotten items? Then you’ll appreciate the frustrations at our working memory’s limitations. Working memory impacts on our ability to hold onto information long enough to use it, to concentrate and follow instructions and our ability to learn.

Often people who have a regular yoga practice speak of such improvements from experience. Our project has been active for over nine years, and we have seen and had teachers notice that after practicing yoga and meditation our children perform better in class. They’re able to concentrate more in class and their academic results improve.

However, the research indicates that even a few hours of proprioceptively activities can increase ones working memory by up to 50%.

So, here are a few suggestions for how you can spend the afternoon (either alone or with your child) doing proprioceptively activities:

  1. climb a tree (and remember that the tree is doing more than just improving your working memory), walk across a beam,
  2. move while paying attention to posture (this could be yoga, but it’s important that you move around in space, don’t remain static on your mat – move around the room, use the wall for inversions, use the door frame for stretching, etc),
  3. go for a barefoot run,
  4. visit your local park and create a navigation course, moving over, under and around the jungle gym equipment.

Let us know how you it goes?

yoga and meditation for kidsConnect

We teach children to connect to self, each other and the earth through yoga and life skills.

organic gardening worm-farming for kidsCultivate

We teach children to cultivate practical skills for life through gardening and worm farming.

hiking with kidsInspire

We're inspiring a new generation of young leaders through hikes and holiday programmes.

ABOUT EARTHCHILD PROJECT