A note from Breathe & Learn Founder and CEO, Joanie Plake
I started Breathe & Learn to support students social-emotional journeys at school and home. As an elementary school teacher, I observed so many children carrying burdens and stress throughout the day which impacted their ability to learn and fully engage in academic work. While I did my best to incorporate mindfulness practices during the day to help ease some of these feelings, I yearned to have the time and space to offer more.
After deepening my own yoga practice through a 200 hour teacher training, I was inspired to create a workshop for kids that offered a full yoga experience paired with thoughtful discussions and self-reflection. Children love moving their bodies into silly poses and are intrigued by breathing exercises and visualizations that help them relax and feel a sense of calmness.
Yoga has brought so much joy to my life. It is much more than the fancy handstands (although I do love practicing them). It is my therapy, an outlet - physically and emotionally, a community, a safe space, a challenge and a commitment to my health and wellness. I am my best self when I am practicing and teaching. I wake up excited to practice yoga every day and love that I get to share it with kids.
My hope is that students walk away from Breathe & Learn workshops with a positive outlook on life, a deeper understanding of themselves, and tools to continue nourishing their minds and bodies in healthy ways.
Joanie's yoga journey began while living in New York City and earning her Masters in Elementary and Special Education at New York University. Through her unique experience as a childhood educator, Joanie is well-versed in building developmentally and age appropriate foundational skills through yoga and mindfulness. As a former teacher at Citizens of the World Charter School Mar Vista, she found that daily breathing exercises and meditation worked wonders in helping her children self-regulate and manage their emotions. In addition, the physical postures offered a fun introduction to healthy living. She graduated from the 200 hr. Soho Yoga Teacher Training in April 2016 and shortly after, received her children's certification through Yoga Ed.