Project aims to make yoga accessible

Yoga practitioners gathered in Gardens this past Saturday to celebrate the International Day of Yoga.

Yoga teacher Joelle Sleebos, together with the Dharma Project, celebrated the fourth International Day of Yoga in Cape Town on Saturday June 22 in Hope Street, Gardens.

Ms Sleebos, from Holland, said when she moved to Cape Town, she realised that there were many yoga studios in Cape Town but the day was not celebrated. She said this was her way of giving back to the community.

The aim, she said, was to celebrate the gift of yoga and celebrate its importance to society while raising funds for the Earthchild project, an organisation which helps children in townships connect to themselves and each other through yoga and life-skills.

“I wanted to give access of yoga to people who may not have access to it and I’m hoping this will reach more kids in townships,” she said.

Ms Sleebos said she’s always been passionate about yoga. She said she has a fitness background and this was an extra way of staying active. “But because it’s such a holistic thing, it became my lifestyle,” she said.

Spokesperson for Earthchild Project, Carly Appleby, said they understand the importance of yoga for children.

She said they are grateful that Ms Sleebos has their organisation close to her heart. “It’s not always easy to get to yoga, one has to find their place, and it costs money, so to bring it to people who might otherwise not experience it and make it affordable and accessible is important,” she said.

Ms Appleby said yoga can bring a sense of calm, peace, connection to self, others and one’s environment.

“We work with children
coming from challenged communities such as Khayelitsha and Lavender Hill. School life and home life for these kids can be chaotic and there’s often abuse. So, spending an hour with them every week where they can feel safe, feel held and be present and connect to themselves brings them a whole new sense of well-being,” she said.

She said their programme has yielded positive results in the past three years as most of the children who have progressed through school are taken into their alumni programme where they are given skills, training and assisted with their career choices.