Yogazeit: Empowering communities through mindful movement education
lululemon's Here to Be partner, Yogazeit, is empowering marginalised communities across Australia through mindful movement education. Grounded by the belief that the health benefits of mindfulness and movement should be accessible to all, Yogazeit provides community-driven, culturally relevant yoga and wellbeing education to remote schools and Indigenous communities. To learn more about Yogazeit, their humble beginnings and the impact they’re having in the community, we spoke with Founder, Regina Cruickshank and Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, Sharnell Avery.
lululemon: How did Yogazeit come about?
Regina: The word Zeit translates from German into time. Yogatime. Born in Germany and raised by a single mum, I found yoga and mindfulness in my teenage years when I was struggling to make sense of life’s changes and figuring out where to fit in. Yoga was my anchor - something in my life that I could always come back to and find calm within, even in the wildest storm.
When I had my first child, born here in Australia, I was looking at opportunities for my offspring to practice. There was nothing around. And if there was, it was priced well beyond anything I would have been able to afford in my younger years. This is how Yogazeit was born.
I wanted to make the benefits of yoga and mindfulness – the benefits of the practice that ‘literally’ saved my life – accessible for those in need. Teaching children how to breathe, balance and playfully explore how to identify and manage their emotions. I started offering some donation-based classes for families in the park next to my house. Soon, parents asked me to come to their school, principals asked me to train their teachers and before we knew it, we were a not-for-profit organisation with six employees and countless volunteers who passionately support our mission.
"Yoga was my anchor - something in my life that I could always come back to and find calm within, even in the wildest storm. "
lululemon: Can you tell us about the Deadly Minds project?
Sharnell: Deadly Minds is the world’s first Indigenous Youth Yoga Teacher Training. The program is trauma-informed, evidence based and developed with and for First Nations people. We explore the mental, physical and social health benefits of mindfulness and movement and empower First Nations people with the skills to make a difference for their mob. A truly unique program.
With thanks to the Here To Be grant, we consulted and collaborated with the Ngaanyatjarra Land School – one of Australia’s most remote school communities. We educated teachers about breath, created resources in local language and empowered children from kindergarten to high school with mindfulness experiences both in-classroom and on-country.
One of the high school students we worked with, Sendricka Giles, was particularly engaged and passionate. Together, we learned about the science of yoga and the mindfulness traditions that communities have been practicing for over 60,000 years. We then collaborated and were able to co-create a holistic program that is sustainable within the remote Western desert communities.
Collaboration and community consultation is at the forefront of what we do and we are constantly adapting our practices to reflect the communities we’re operating in.
lululemon: How would you describe Yogazeit’s community impact?
Sharnell: Relaxed shoulders, big smiles, soft eyes and a love of local language and traditions.
Since engaging with the Here To Be program, we’re reached over 600 First Nations children, youth and school staff and community members. To see a once shy, softly spoken Indigenous Education volunteer confidently lead a classroom with mindful movement activities is amazing. We slowly see their confidence and leadership skills develop, their posture straightens, and their chin is held high.
For our school-aged students, we have witnessed an increased self-awareness and ability to self-regulate – using movement and breath as a tool support different emotions.
Above all, our impact is seen in how we embody, empower and educate our communities. Yogazeit is so much more than a yoga class or mindfulness session – we're equipping communities with the tools to pass on their skills and knowledge, to help make movement and mindfulness accessible and sustainable for all.
" Above all, our impact is seen in how we embody, empower and educate our communities. "
lululemon: What's next for Yogazeit?
Regina: Well if COVID taught us one thing - it's to be flexible (yoga pun intended). Our goal is to continue the work we're doing, with a particular focus on our Indigenous Outreach Programs. Mental illness is on the rise. We're here to combat this and support marginalized communities with accessible, culturally sensitive trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness for healthy bodies and healthy minds. One breath at a time.
A big focus for us this year is to also support research and science in mindfulness and movement in Australia. We're working with some very clever people at universities and research institutes to help us analyze feedback and outcomes from our programs in communities.
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