Bent on Learning–Where Inner City Kids Find Inner Peace
I’ve always said, “If only I had discovered yoga when I was a kid, I think half of my growing pains would have been much easier to go through.” I grew up as a very loved young girl in Pocatello, Idaho. We walked to the bus stop, played in the pond, hiked in the mountains and played with our friends outside all of the time. My parents spoiled myself and my brothers with love and helped us with our homework whenever we needed. Even still, I had my share of difficult times learning how to deal with my body, my self-esteem, my perfectionism, etc.
Many kids growing up in the inner city, don’t have the luxury of roaming free outside; or parents who are home for them after school. On top of all the things children naturally have to endure as they grow up, these kids have even more barriers against them. Yoga provides a safe haven for kids to prosper and grow; and to find a sense of peace amidst the chaos they may experience in other aspects of their lives.
Bent On Learning is an incredible nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by three amazing yoga teachers. Their goal was to bring yoga to urban youth in New York City public schools right in the classroom during school. Bent on Learning provides every child with their own yoga mat and helps children to learn about themselves, release stress, become happier and healthier, and to calm their emotions. “Kids need to be healthy and happy in order to learn,” says the founders. To this date, Bent on Learning has taught yoga to over 12,000 kids and has 136 classes per week in 16 schools.
I created the Bendigirl Yoga DVD years ago to help build children’s self esteem one breath at a time through yoga. I also want kids to have fun, explore, play and love the bodies they have. I continue to teach some Bendigirl yoga classes in the city and I volunteer teaching yoga for the Live Light Live Right foundation. I’ve known of Bent on Learning for many years; and I’ve always admired the founders and everything they do. I’m honored to be on the host committee this year for their upcoming Annual Spring Gala. I’m also psyched to start regularly teaching for Bent on Learning to continue sharing yoga with as many kids as I possibly can.
If you live in NYC, I’d love for you to come join me at Indochine on Wednesday May 29th. The night will be full of music, food and fun; as well as a live auction of Art on a Yoga Mat. You can reserve your space to help support yoga in NYC schools. You can also make donations to Bent on Learning through their website. Someday I hope to see a program like this nationwide, where kids everywhere have access to yoga in their classrooms.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!