Olivia Treubig’s “The Lotus Seed Project” is primarily an initiative to introduce yoga and mindfulness to more people, she says, doing so in settings other than the traditional yoga studio and with a focus on community and healing. Her efforts extend to both adults and children.
Partnering with The Arts Community, a nonprofit that supports teachers of the arts in the Hudson Valley, Treubig is launching an afterschool program in yoga, mindfulness and meditation at Duzine and Lenape elementary schools in New Paltz. This will be the first time a yoga program has ever been offered on school grounds.
The six-week series, “Gen Zen: Creative Yoga & Mindfulness Empowerment,” will be held after school in room 124 at Lenape on Wednesdays beginning September 25 and in room 21 at Duzine on Fridays beginning September 27. Children will be dismissed from school directly to Treubig, with the class ending at 4:45 p.m. The cost is $125.
Bringing the program to kids where they already are — at school — makes yoga and the concepts of mindfulness more accessible to children, Treubig says. “It gives kids the opportunity to connect to each other, instead of always being connected to external stimuli. There’s a lot of team-building and group work in the classes.”
The sessions will emphasize physical fitness, increasing balance and focus, learning relaxation techniques, and achieving a sense of overall well-being through engaging, age-appropriate activities. Topics such as character, chakras, meditation, mindfulness and kindness will be explored. Kids will also do craft projects and enjoy a healthy snack.
The classes are focused on children, but Treubig is equally interested in reaching their parents. “I find that children can be given a lot in terms of character development in yoga, but then if they go home to parents who are not fostering that, it kind of gets lost. And vice-versa. Parents can go to yoga class or do meditation and mindfulness work but then if they go home and their kids are out of control, it gets lost on that end. It’s helpful if children and parents are on the same page.”
To that end, Treubig will offer a ten-week yoga and meditation workshop series for moms at the Wellness Embodied Center on Main Street in New Paltz. “Mammasté” will begin September 17 and run for ten Tuesdays at 7 p.m. The cost is $250. Gentle yoga techniques and mindfulness meditation will allow moms to become more relaxed and refreshed, and more able to deliver conscious parenting aligned with their child’s developmental needs. The sessions will address the physical, mental and emotional challenges specific to motherhood, providing participants the space to bond and connect with one another, forming a community with other like-minded individuals.
Certified in the trauma-conscious yoga method, Treubig also offers individual yoga sessions at the Wellness Embodied Center and goes to people’s homes to do private sessions. Trauma-conscious yoga is a healing modality, she explains, that allows people to “process their story and move on to new chapters, releasing blockages that otherwise get in the way of healthy relationships, or affects careers and drains energy.” The techniques can benefit a wide range of people, she adds, from those actively in recovery or who have experienced a deep trauma to those just suffering from generalized anxiety. A private, 45-minute trauma-conscious yoga session starts at $60.
According to the Trauma-Conscious Yoga Institute, trauma has both an emotional and physical impact on the body. And at some point, a person experiencing difficulties must find a coping mechanism, whether that’s a healthy outlet or an unhealthy one. A trauma-sensitive yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection, allowing a person to regain their sense of control and ownership over their body and their experiences.
Treubig’s interest in healing modalities comes from personal experience. The loss of her brother when she was 18, and knowing the suffering he went through emotionally and mentally, gave her “a real soft spot,” she says, “for giving children social, emotional and character development. It’s why I wanted to teach in the first place. When I was learning how to be a teacher, I noticed myself always focusing on the psychology, and the social, emotional and character pieces that went into what children are exposed to and taught.” She sees her work now as taking a holistic approach to overall wellness.
With a master’s degree in childhood education, Treubig worked as a teacher “on and off” in the early years of raising her four children. “And through all that time, I ended up finding yoga to be my personal place of growth and solace. By the time I started focusing on my career again, I realized that I wanted to fuse the education I have in childhood development with yoga, and got certified in the trauma-conscious yoga method from Vitality Yoga Flow.”
The incorporation of true yoga principles into classes for children is what differentiates The Lotus Seed Project, she adds. “There are some kids’ yoga classes that are probably very beneficial from a physical standpoint in that they’re getting exercise, but one of my goals is to really incorporate the whole emotional and spiritual and character development pieces of yoga that we get as adults, and find a way to translate that and give it to the kids.”
In naming her efforts The Lotus Seed Project, Treubig says she thinks of what she’s doing as “planting seeds of hope and peace.” A lotus begins its growth under water, in the mud, and then pushes through the murk toward the surface where in time, the lotus blooms and exposes its beauty, she explains; a reminder that we can grow from our difficulties.
“I feel like yoga and mindfulness is such an important modality for children to be exposed to. Kids are very isolated today because of technology. They’re not connected to one another anymore, running around playing with their neighbors, and being outdoors, and yoga kind of touches on all of that; it gives kids a chance to slow down their thinking, and it moves their body and gives them exercise. It lets them breathe deeply, which is also something that’s not intrinsically built into childhood anymore, sadly. And there are so many studies out there that show how this type of movement and these types of connections foster everything from positive behaviors to character development to success in academic areas.”
Future endeavors for The Lotus Seed Project may include classes for the very young through Elting Library’s children’s program, which would likely involve reading books on mindfulness with preschoolers and teaching them a brief, age-appropriate mindfulness exercise just to introduce the concept. Long-term, Treubig says, she’d like to establish a community youth center along the lines of the New Paltz Youth Program but for younger kids, offering a place for them and their parents to connect by coming in for healthy activities, healing and the arts.
To register for the kids’ classes at Duzine and Lenape elementary schools, visit the link on The Arts Community website: http://www.theartscommunity.com/workshops/genzen. For more information about yoga and mindfulness programs for kids, visit Treubig’s Gen Zen Yoga 4 Youth Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Gen-Zen-Yoga-4-Youth-2341734602558503/.
To register for the “Mammasté” workshop series at the Wellness Embodied Center, visit https://www.wellnessembodiedcenter.com/mammaste-.html. Contact Treubig directly for private sessions at (845) 245-5608 or OTreubig@gmail.com.
“No experience in yoga is necessary in any of this,” Treubig says. “Beginners are welcome. One of the hardest parts of starting any kind of healing journey is having hope that things can get better, and reaching out. I’d like people to know that this is a safe place to reach out and that someone will be there with them to help them along the way, understanding that dynamic.”