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

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.

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