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.

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The synergy between mindfulness and medicine – words from an Earthchild Project volunteer

Naomi Heller is a volunteer with Earthchild Project. She is a doctor by profession, working in paediatrics with an interest in paediatric palliative medicine (this is an area of medicine focusing on children and families of children coping with life limiting and life threatening disease). Her long term aim is to incorporate yoga into this area of healthcare and work with children, siblings and families managing medical symptoms, grief and emotional trauma.

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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.

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Connecting souls across cultures through yoga

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@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.

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Holiday Programmes!

Holidays! Most children love them, but if you live in an under-developed area there is not much to during this period. During the past two weeks, Earthchild  has been running 2  holiday programmes in which children from grade 7 can develop their leadership skills.   

Every morning the programmes starts with an hour of yoga, and there are lots of songs and games involved. Because the theme is leadership, there is also a good amount of time for personal development.

This holiday program we had Amy Silverman as a guest facilitator coming from the United States to give a work shop about Authentic Relating  This methods teaches  participants relating skills to understand one another on a deeper level
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My Journey to Volunteer with Earthchild Project – Guest Blog Post, Sondy Mzamo

This guest blog post is written by Earthchild Project volunteer and world traveler, Sondy Mzamo. Sondy is an inspiration to our Earthchildren – her story of leaving South Africa to travel the world, and then returning to study and give back to her country of birth, allows our Earthchildren to imagine similar horizons opening up ahead of them!

Thank you for being you, Sondy, and for all the time and love you share with us all.

First of all I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story and for being a part of Earth Child Project! It always gives me so much joy to share my journey with people, and I hope it plants a seed for young girls and boys to dream big and believe in themselves. Read more

Guest Blog Post: Volunteer, Ellie Kraus

Last September, I moved to Cape Town and soon afterward began working and practicing at The Shala Yoga Studio. Although I had always been interested in yoga, it was here that I engendered a relationship with it, as my practice reached new heights and began to lead me down a new, beautiful life path. Through yoga, I learned new skills and adopted new routines that allowed me to grow as an individual. Most importantly, The Shala introduced me to the Earthchild Project, allowing me to share my love for yoga in a most rewarding way. What better method to empower the youth than through a lifelong journey that evokes personal exploration and validates the sense of self?

I had my doubts driving into Khayelitsha my first day with the Earthchild Project, questioning how young children could buy into something as far fetched as yoga. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The children were willing and eager to take part in the yoga and meditation being taught. I believe that this mentality has much to do with the fact that these children had no preconceptions of what “yoga” meant. Unlike many children in the West, the kids in Khayelitsha had never heard of yoga, and were thus able to form their own opinions on it.

 

While with Earthchild, I have had the pleasure of following and facilitating Noks – an active and well-respected member of the Khayelitsha community. During my first few weeks with her, I sat back and admired the presence she held while teaching her students and spreading her love for yoga. Since then, Noks and I have established a co-teaching approach, allowing me to simultaneously learn from and work alongside Noks, all the while developing relationships with the children in and around the community.

Noks begins each class with a lesson taught in Xhosa. These lessons may range from the Law of Attraction to the most recent acts of Xenophobia taking place throughout South Africa. Often times, her lessons are discussion-based, allowing the students to share personal stories and receive feedback. Following the lesson we move into a guided yoga and meditation practice that is taught in English by myself. The shift in language allows the children to practice their English whilst receiving the benefits of yoga and meditation. Moreover, for many students, I am the first white person that they have ever interacted with. I believe that through the practice of yoga in local townships we can begin to bridge the gap between varying cultures, thus inspiring the yogic notion of oneness and equality amongst all beings.

Of all of the wonderful moments that take part during our classes, my favorite time of the day is when the children take Shavasana. During this time, the students are able to fully relax and remove themselves from their frenzied environments, if for no more than a fleeting moment. Noks and I then go around the room and receive the children with nurturing hands. Whether it be by squeezing their toes or holding their hands, we always receive a smile in return. To me, this demonstrates the effect that these small gestures can have on a child who does not often feel the humble beauty found in human contact and love. Following class, it is clear through the children’s behavior that a state of higher relaxation has been gained. Both Noks and I encourage the children to see their own beauty throughout the duration of class. I truly believe that the yoga enables the students to think for themselves and empowers them to make their own decisions by better understanding the inner power they each hold.

Through spreading the love of yoga we are able to open the minds of these young children and relinquish the dualities that they possess at such an early age. The Earthchild Project is an extraordinary example of the selfless beauty found in our world, and I feel so extremely blessed to be a part of it. Noks has taught me invaluable life lessons. Simply observing her brilliance and dedication to these students has inspired me to follow a career in holistic education.

Ellie Kraus is an Earthchild Project volunteer who’s work with our team in Khayelitsha has been life changing, for our children and the staff who’s lives she’s changed. We’re eternally grateful to the support and learning that volunteers like Ellie bring to our program. Thank you Ellie for sharing the love!

Just R200 provides one child with weekly yoga lessons for a year. See how you can Share the Love!

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