May 9, 2011

{Boulder Event} The Wellness Initiative’s Yogathon: Support Yoga for Low-Income Kids. ~ Dee Andrews

Who Benefits from 108 Sun Salutes?

I benefit. My 12-year-old daughter benefits. And over 2,000 other Colorado kids and community members benefit.

We join The Wellness Initiative’s second annual Yogathon, taking place in Boulder on Saturday, May 14, to collectively raise our hands and raise money to provide yoga classes to kids in low-income schools.

Participants strive to complete 108 sun salutations with friends and family pledging monetary support. Local beloved yoga teachers, Brandon Cox, Trista Hollerbach, Matt Kapinus, Tina Porter, and Nancy Kate Williams will each lead a portion of the sun salutes. Participants like us benefit from the yoga, fun and connecting with community; the kids served by The Wellness Initiative benefit from improved physical health, social and emotional development and academic performance.

Yoga in Schools

Started five years ago in Boulder, the Wellness Initiative provides yoga instruction to over 2,000 students in 25 predominantly low-income Colorado schools. Classes for students are different at different schools. In some schools, students receive regular exposure to yoga as part of the P.E. curriculum. At other schools, yoga is an elective class offered during the school day. At my daughter’s middle school here in Boulder, students choose to participate in the classes, held once a week before school, and parents cover the costs and help to subsidize the programs in low-income schools. My daughter loves the program; she’s signed up twice. I love that she has a way to calm her adolescent angst. Students at Colfax Elementary in Denver say, “Yoga makes me happy.” “It is a time when you calm your madness and get exercise.” And that yoga is “something you can do to feel peaceful.”

The Benefits of Yoga.

Preliminary research findings on the effects of The Wellness Initiative’s yoga classes in public schools indicate that at least half of the students who participate report improved physical prowess as well as more self-confidence and optimism, and that 60 to 70 percent used the breathing and visualization exercises they learned in yoga to help them outside of school. Executive Director, Mara Rose says, “The kids get stronger and more flexible, and the athletes say that after yoga they feel faster and more capable. Emotionally, they feel they can better manage stress and control anger. Their academic performance is mostly related to their ability to focus, to calm themselves in the classroom.” Leading a portion of the 108 sun salutations at the May Yogathon is yoga instructor, Matt Kapinus, who also volunteered for the Yogathon in 2010. “At a time when I felt confused about life, I found yoga, and I wish I had been led to it earlier. It is so nice to know that The Wellness Initiative is doing this work—offering yoga to kids who can use it to find that much-needed empowerment to face all of the drama and pressure that kids inevitably face.”

Who else will join us in bringing yoga to kids?

Four ways to get involved.

1. Register for The Wellness Initiative’s Yogathon on May 14 and challenge yourself to 108 sun salutations. Gather a team and do it together, or come on your own and make new friends.

2. Attend the Spring Creek concert (kids are free). Not into yoga but love music? Join us from 4 p.m.- 6 p.m. at Naropa’s Nalanda Campus for a live bluegrass concert. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door while supplies last.

3. Take a transformative master yoga class with renowned teachers Shannon Paige Schneider and Nancy Kate or Chris Muchow. All levels welcome.

4. Sponsor an individual who’s participating in the Yogathon. We are well on our way to raising $30,000, but we need your help! Already 20 teams have raised $20,000. Will you join them? Nancy Kate Williams, who will be leading a portion of the sun salutations and co-teaching one of the master classes explained why she decided to volunteer her time and talent. She told us, “I am absolutely honored to be part of the Yogathon, offering my passion for yoga as a way to help raise awareness and financial support for The Wellness Initiative so that they may share the lifelong benefits of yoga with children in need. The more that we allow ourselves to give, the more space we make to receive, so please join us as we give back to our own communities, co-creating a brighter future for us all.”


Dee Andrews is a writer, marketer, and social media strategist who volunteers for The Wellness Initiative. She lives in Boulder with her husband and two daughters. She credits her passion for volunteering to her mother’s example and her first walk-a-thon as an 8-year-old. Yoga was an unknown to her until she moved to Los Angeles. It is her hope that kids today don’t have to wait until they are 28 to discover its amazing benefits.

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