3.28.18 Benefit Event: Accessing Wellness as a Person of Color

On March 28th our partner in learning, NAYA founder and yoga instructor, SINIKIWE DHLIWAYO, will be moderating a lively discussion about ACCESSING WELLNESS AS A PERSON OF COLOR.


You’re invited to join a deep dive conversation between:

  • GEORGE FOREMAN III, Founder of EverybodyFights and son of legendary boxer, George Forman.
  • JOE HOLDER, Nike Master Trainer and health consultant.
  • QUENTIN VENNIE, Author of the best-selling memoir, Strong in the Broken Places, celebrated speaker, entrepreneur and Program Director at Bent On Learning

Don’t miss this amazing event and get your ticket here before it sells out! 

Proceeds support Bent On Learning

Supported by:

Crystal McCreary

Crystal is part of Bent On Learning’s Teacher Training team, leading workshops in Classroom Management and Yoga for Children in Primary School.  She is also one of our most in-demand teachers and currently teaches yoga to pre-k and kindergarten students at PS29 in Brooklyn.  We are so lucky that she is part of the Bent On Learning family! She is registered with Yoga Alliance at the E-RYT-500 level, leads several yoga teacher trainings, facilitates professional development workshops, and speaks nationally about the impact of yoga and mindfulness on the health and wellbeing of children, adolescents and adults. For more information about Crystal and her teaching and training schedule, please visit www.crystalmccrearyyoga.com.

1. In what ways do you think that yoga can support the black community or why is yoga important for and by the black community?  Yoga supports wellness and the integration of the human landscape: the body, the mind, the heart, and spirit. As a people that history proves to have lead a remarkable campaign of harm against, from slavery, racial, economic, social oppression, in many ways Black people (and in particular those who oppress Black people), are in a constant negotiation regarding how to survive and be resilient in a hostile and inequitable social and emotional climate. Yoga cultivates tools for resilience and empowers practitioners through experiential embodied practices, breath work, and exploration of the mind and focused attention through meditation. All these support stress management and the regulation of the nervous system and physiological systems, while yoga philosophy offers guidelines for being compassionate in community. For all these reasons and more, yoga is a powerful tool poised to be deeply supportive to the Black community.

2. What or who inspires you and motivates you to continue this work of yoga as a service to underserved communities or yoga for education of youth.  The kids I teach inspire me to continue to share yoga. They just get it and are so honest and engaged when I show up ready to embrace them. They help me grow. When I first started teaching kids yoga, they taught me how to be a true yoga practitioner. You see, it’s very easy to be kind, patient, and compassionate when your students are adults who are generally self-directed and self-regulated and follow directions. But children and adolescents who are as authentic in the way they express themselves and get their needs met as can be, can be a very confronting group who test your mettle, if you will. I learned a lot about how to be not just a better yoga teacher, but a better human being when I began teaching kids. Though yoga demands this of all practitioners, it can be easily avoided and is so all too often by yoga teachers when teaching adult populations. I return to kids classes to constantly push myself to grow.

3. What is one thing you learned about yourself/life through your yoga practice, that you don’t think you would know without it?  That my mind can be an ally. Meditation is such a powerful practice for me. I used to have major, debilitating anxiety about EVERYTHING. And one day it’s as if I woke up and suddenly realized that I don’t get anxious the way I used to, like ever. Even in some of the most nerve-wracking situations that I find myself in, like an audition, or a public speaking engagement, it just doesn’t happen anymore. I have trained my body and my mind to settle through slow, mindful and deep nasal breathing and an ability to focus on the immediate, present moment task at hand. When anxiety starts to creep up, I pay attention and intentionally practice doing one thing at a time, so that I am very rarely the victim of my own racing thoughts or high-octane emotions. This has been one of the best gifts yoga has given me.

Kate Johnson

Kate Johnson’s favorite words are awareness, embodiment, and action. She is an interdisciplinary teacher, writer, and dancer who incorporates Buddhadharma and social justice into her work. In her consulting practice (and as a member of Bent On Learning’s Teacher Training team), Kate offers mindful, creative approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion education. From 2010 through 2016, she taught yoga to students at New Design High School on the Lower East Side. Her first book, about waking up to power and oppression as spiritual practice, is forthcoming in 2019.

When my workshop prep involves riding the Blue Nile at sunset… it must be Black Futures Month! In Khartoum, Sudan for two weeks, leading the meditation module of a yoga training. At our first workshop session yesterday I got to learn all the ways mindfulness is practiced in Sudanese culture — river gazing, tea ceremony, visiting elders, cooking with love, blessing food, singing and chanting and making music, and of course, prayer five times a day. Mindfulness does not belong to any religion, is not about changing our personalities or becoming culturally or emotionally neutral. It’s a natural gift all humans have, and when we practice in the ways that are real and authentic for us, we become even more gifted.


Teri Richardson

Teri Richardson completed Bent On Learning’s Children’s Yoga Teacher Training in 2010 and taught students at PS132 in Brooklyn and at The Institute for Collaborative Education in Manhattan. She did her 500-hr TT, left BOL to manage Park Slope Yoga, and got certified with Yoga 4 Cancer. Teri now owns PS Yoga and works as Managing Director.

1.  In what ways do you think that yoga can support the black community or why is yoga important for and by the black community?  Yoga can benefit the black community by simply creating opportunity and offering more exposure.

2.  What or who inspires you and motivates you to continue this work of yoga as a service to underserved communities or yoga for education of youth. My yoga practice continues to surprise me. It has supported me in life, art, teaching, owning my yoga studio, through breast cancer and good health. As I continue to teach a range of students, including cancer survivors, I am moved by the benefits that students express almost immediately. Witnessing the sense of accomplishment that one finds for themselves is the best reward as a teacher. This practice inspires and motivates me as I have become more resolute in my belief and understanding of how once we do get out of our own way, yoga works to reunites us to the task — whatever that task at hand happens to be. Yoga softens that feeling in us of wanting to bail and give up. We learn to work with what we have and it guides us towards a focus on what IS, in the moment. Both weak and strong combined together, begins to knit some of the frayed and damaged edges back together again! It is a healing practice that does affect the body, but is equally effective on the mind and the spirit of a person who has been through much. It is a beautifully dynamic practice that is useful, biologically effective and scientific. And it can be simple.

3.  What is one thing you learned about yourself/life through your yoga practice, that you don’t think you would know without it?  I have discovered an unyielding strength and process that has been facilitated by my yoga practice. It kicks in when I least expect or am even aware. There is a philosophy of living and being that is rooted in the ability to move with the breath and to trust that I am.

See more about Teri at Park Slope Yoga Center, her blog and website.

<< Black History Month

Dianne Bondy

Dianne teaches her signature workshop, Yoga For All: Asana, Self-Acceptance and Empowerment, as part of Bent On Learning’s Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Program. We are so lucky to have her guidance, wisdom and kindness on our team!

1.  In what ways do you think that yoga can support the black community or why is yoga important for and by the black community?   Very recently I have taken some introductory training with therapist and yoga teacher Dr. Gail Parker. Her teachings focus on how yoga can help with Race-Based Traumatic Stress Injury. RBTSI is everyday stress and trauma that people of colour face in the world through both macro and micro aggressions of systemic racism and bigotry.  Dr Parker has shown how restorative yoga, in particular, has the effect of healing some of the trauma that people have endured throughout their everyday lives. I have found in my own practice as a woman of colour that yoga has helped create positive self-awareness and connection. I have come to know myself and my value to the world through this practice and I share these teachings with others s they may find peace and a better sense of self.  Yoga has made me an activist for inclusion and celebration of diversity in all its forms.

2.  What or who inspires you and motivates you to continue this work of yoga as a service to underserved communities or yoga for education of youth.  I am inspired by Dr Gail Parker, The Yoga and Body Image Coalition, The Inspower Agency by Jasmine Hines, Kelley Caboni Woods, 314 Yoga, Accessible Yoga Organization and Ananna H Parris, who all teach empowerment through self-care, yoga, dance and community to unseen and under-serviced communities. I also have the privilege to meet teachers of colour from all over the world who show up in communities of colour to teach, inspire and motivate others to share in this work.  I am moved and inspired by each of them.

3.  What is one thing you learned about yourself/life through your yoga practice, that you don’t think you would know without it?   Yoga changed me from a scared and insecure being to a person who steps fully into her body and her power without apology. Yoga has taught me it is okay to take up space. Yoga has made me activist that resists the narrow stereotypes placed on people of colour and persists in keeping our voices hear and our humanity valued. If we start with empowering and educating our youth, then we shift the paradigm to powerful instead of powerless.

Dianne’s upcoming events and workshops and additional resources.

<< Black History Month

Sinikiwe Dhliwayo

Sinikiwe completed Bent On Learning’s Teacher Training program in 2015 and taught yoga at The High School for Global Citizenship in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. She’s always looking out for us, connecting us to new yoga studios and friends and offering her time and talent to bring yoga to more kids in New York City and beyond!  

1.  In what ways do you think that yoga can support the black community OR why is yoga important for and by the black community?  Wellness has become synonymous with affluence and a racially non diverse community. Yoga has become my personal means for becoming attune with my body. As a women of color who practices yoga I think yoga for my community is imperative as a means of self care. Living daily in a black body is an act of resistance. The ability to go inwards with a practice like yoga is immeasurable.

2.  What or who inspires you and motivates you to continue this work of yoga as a service to underserved communities or yoga for education of youth?  I am inspired to teach children who look like me yoga because of the impact that yoga has made on my life. I grew up playing a myriad of sports but nothing has impacted me like my yoga practice. I feel like if I had found yoga when I was younger I would have found self confidence sooner. Additionally, I am motivated to teach youth in underserved communities because I think representation matters. Its hard to aspire to do something or be something if you can’t see yourself reflected in it.

3.  What is one thing you learned about yourself/life through your yoga practice, that you don’t think you would know without it?  The biggest thing yoga has taught me is presence. I pride myself on being a planner and always find myself thinking in advance. Through cultivating a yoga practice I have learned to sit with things in the moment instead of worrying about whats next to come. Next will happen regardless of the urge to rush to it.

Additionally, I learned the importance of putting myself first. Again as a self proclaimed planner I found myself negotiating time to accomodate others. Be it potential partners, family, or work. The practice of yoga has illuminated how by prioritizing my own health and needs I bring to everything else the best version of myself. I have gotten really good at determining what my nonnegtionables are.

Find out more about Sinikiwe at Third Wave Fund and LinkedIn.

<< Black History Month

6.19- 6.30 2018. SIGN UP TODAY: Ancient Greece + Yoga Retreat for BOL


 SUMMER 2018!

We are excited to partner with Philomobile on an epic journey through Ancient Greece from June 19-30, 2018.

This unique trip will trace the history of ancient Greece with Yoga immersion AND with every trip purchase, Philomobile will give one child the gift of yoga for an entire school year!

Click here for all the details and sign up for an experience of a lifetime by April 15 for the early bird special!


“Dear Bent On Learning” Student Letters

Each year we ask our students to share how yoga has impacted on their lives — whether it be with their studies, at home or with friends. Byron, 5th grade, shares the important changes he experienced in yoga class with our instructor, Ms. Sherry.

Give to Bent On Learning to allow for more students to receive the benefits of yoga during the school day, giving them tools to regulate their minds and bodies and to reach their potential.

Yoga Gives Back

From the classroom to the studio!  Yoga is about community and the practice is about inclusion.  These are values that we, at BOL, instill in our students and share with our studio partners below.  Their on-going support helps us bring the gift of yoga to more students at a young age.



Sacred Sounds Yoga



Check out our other amazing studio supporters below:


Yoga Vida


Lion’s Den Power Yoga
Hot Yoga Rego Park (HYRP)


Athleta NYC Flatiron 


Stay tuned for up-coming workshops, classes, events  and retreats! 

Yoga Shanti 

Would you like to become a studio partner OR would you like to see a BOL benefit class at your studio?  Contact us at info@bentonlearning.org.  



11.28.17 Double YOUR Impact on GIVING TUESDAY






On #GivingTuesday, Facebook and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be matching up to $50,000 per nonprofit, with a max of $1,000 per fundraiser or donate button, until the $2 million in matching funds run out.

Bent On Learning is in 16 schools across four boroughs in New York City with new schools expressing an urgent need for our program every day!

This #GivingTuesday, you can DOUBLE your impact by donating via the BOL Facebook page button or starting a fundraiser on BOL’s behalf!

Join, BOL supporters, Kristin McGeeDianne Bondy and others on 11/28.

CLICK HERE on 11/28 to start your fundraiser and ask your friends, family, co-workers to do the same. 

The match will begin November 28th at 8AM EST (5AM PST).



Join Our Mailing List

Bent On Learning appreciates all of its generous supporters, partners and volunteers who have contributed to the success of our program. Learn more about how you can support us.