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An Afternoon of Wellness to Benefit Yoga in Schools

Nancy Alkire Nancy Alkire An Afternoon of Wellness to Benefit Yoga in SchoolsYouth Yoga Project students doing yoga. Photo by Autumn Theodore Photography.
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“Healthy self-care choices are important to learn at any age,” says Julie Handelman of the Youth Yoga Project. “Teaching children and educators to self-manage their stress is my passion project.”  

Handelman and Lauren Greenspan, both trained educators, started the Youth Yoga Project in 2017 to empower students and educators with tools for self-regulation. It is well known that mindfulness training, breath regulation, and techniques learned in yoga can lower stress in children and adults.

“It all helps your overall well-being. We give kids and teachers a great ‘toolkit’ of self-calming skills,” the duo says. “These techniques really help kids focus during activities and have positive outcomes in school.” 

Handelman and Greenspan have grown from only serving in a few schools in 2017 to now providing yoga and mindfulness activities in 35 schools and community centers. 

“We impacted over 1000 students and over 800 educators in 2018,” says Handelman. They are also helping start programs in the Toledo area and have a curriculum program for schools.

On Sunday, August 11, 2019 they will hold Exhale: Breathing Change into Schools, a wellness event to benefit the Youth Yoga Project and give recognition to their teachers and students. Scheduled at the Amelito Mirolo barn in Upper Arlington, there will be multiple wellness experience stations and some very tasty eats. Catering from Together & Company will feature brie and raspberry tarts, garden veggies and tortellini skewers. Drink items from Sideswipe Brewing, Kendall Jackson Winery, Nocterra Brewing, and North Parsons Brewing will round out a cash bar.

Intention stones will be part of the upcoming wellness event for Youth Yoga Project.  Photo by Autumn Theodore Photography.

“We want to have fun with and honor our teachers before the next school year starts,” says Handelman. “Anyone interested in yoga in schools is welcome to come, too. Everything will be very family friendly. There will be many craft activities, such as making eye masks and intention stones, and wellness stations for hand massage or learning about essential oils.”   

The Youth Yoga Project is a non-profit providing yoga and wellness programming for young people to improve their physical, social, and emotional well-being and increase their academic success. Youth Yoga brings yoga programming into schools during the regular school day and for after-school programs and as well as in community settings. Youth Yoga Project also offers educators and staff trainings in mindfulness, stress reduction and yoga.

“We work hard to make it all comfortable and accessible to everyone,” says Greenspan.

Greenspan and Handelman also spent time in Bangalore, India working with teachers in the Indian school system.

“One thing that made an impression on us was about keeping a consistent routine with students, practicing in the same way so that students can notice the changes in themselves and see that growth is happening. We teach for mastery,” says Handelman. 

“One of the really fun things, has been connecting with the yoga community abroad and here in Columbus,” says Greenspan. “The owners of GIVE Yoga, Bexley Yoga, and Bluespot Yoga have all been very supportive of us. Chad Underwood of Modo Yoga and Erica Fullen of Wild Sage Collective are now board members of the Youth Yoga Project as well as Columbus educator and K-12 consultant, Dr. Rodney Harrelson.”

“I am very excited that the Yoga On High Foundation is one of our sponsors for this event,” notes Handelman.  

Exhale: Breathing Change into Schools will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 11, 2019 at the Amelito Mirolo barn in Upper Arlington at 4395 Carriage Hill Lane, Tickets are available at youthyogaproject.net.

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