Yogis persevere through the heat at ‘Namasté Day’

By Kenneth Borges, Jul 20, 2019

Hathaway leads the outdoor yoga session in 86 degree heat. Photo by: Kenneth Borges.

Hathaway leads the outdoor yoga session in 86 degree heat. Photo by: Kenneth Borges.

MATTAPOISETT — Yoga practitioners persevered through 86 degree heat to celebrate mindfulness and generosity at “Namasté Day” with a free workout, music and prizes early Saturday morning, July 20 at Ned’s Point.

The event was led by Anchor Yoga Founding Director Jessica Webb, and instructor Marcia Hathaway. Webb said that the term namasté means “to honor the light in another” and that this event was held to honor the many yogis who support Project Wheel House, an initiative to help bring the mental and physical benefits of yoga to underserved individuals such as inner city youth and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“I want to honor their generosity by being generous back,” Webb said about her supporters and the event.

Hathaway instructed an hour long program beginning around 8:30 a.m. that was tailored for the intense heat. As harpist Jay Michaels played soothing music in the background, Hathaway led yogis through a slow flow of resting, tree, and warrior poses. She placed an emphasis on standing poses to take advantage of the ocean breeze at Ned’s Point, and allowed time for water breaks.

In addition to commands like “hands at heart center” Hathaway offered words of encouragement such as “you guys are doing a great job, cause it’s really hot...just pretend that it’s not.”

Parts of Hathaway’s workout were spiritual as well as physical. In one exercise, yogis slowly moved their hands forward, and then pulled them back towards their bodies to symbolize pushing away things that are not beneficial to their higher purpose, and gathering “that which nourishes [their] spirit.” 

She also read a passage “of Your True Home, The Everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh” titled “live vigorously,” focusing on the importance of mindfulness in achieving happiness.

Hathaway ended the yoga session by saying “the light in me bows to the light in you, namasté,” and thanking the crowd for attending. 

Hathaway persevered through more than just heat to lead the Namasté Day session. Due to degenerative arthritis, she will be having a hip replacement surgery in just a few days. She said that she hopes to make a quick recovery, and will return to teaching as soon as she can drive.

She said that yoga helps her work through her arthritis physically and provides a healthy distraction from her worries.

Harpist Jay Michaels played a selection of classical and Celtic music. He said he has been playing music all his life, and has played the harp for over 20 years. He said he has a special appreciation for the harp due to its long history, dating back to medieval England, and ancient Egypt before that. Michaels said that he would be playing at the Rhode Island Renaissance Faire later in the day.

After the workout was completed, Webb drew names from a jar to pick winners for prizes like $10 to $25 gift cards to Target, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Apple, as well as t-shirts, and yoga mats. 

The event was free to the public, but donations to Project Wheel House’s “20 in 20” fundraising campaign. The fundraiser will continue through Oct. 12 with the goal of raising $20,000 in 20 weeks.

Summer-Long Yoga Series at Ned’s Point Lighthouse

Summer Fundraiser for Project Wheel House

Summer Fundraiser for Project Wheel House

Yoga is known to be beneficial for body, mind, and spirit. However, for some people, yoga is not accessible. At Project Wheel House, the mission is to bring yoga to populations who often lack access to this form of mindfulness and exercise, but who would benefit greatly from adding yoga into their lives. If you are a yoga lover, you can help further this mission by participating in “20 in 20”, a 20-week long, outdoor yoga series hosted at Ned’s Point Light in Mattapoisett starting on Saturday, May 25th.

The yoga series will be called, “20 in 20”, with the goal of raising $20,000 over the course of 20 weeks, in order to “keep the wheel in Project Wheel House” turning. Attendees are asked to make a donation between $10 and $20 as they join other yoga enthusiasts of all ages and levels each Saturday morning at scenic Ned’s Point Light. The sessions begin at around 8:15 in the morning and end at 9:30 a.m.

Project Wheel House is a local non-profit organization founded in 2016, and since its inception has worked with numerous at-risk populations to bring the healing powers of yoga into the lives of those who may not have been introduced to it otherwise. Project Wheel House has worked with survivors of domestic violence, inmates, LGBTQ youth, and urban children throughout the SouthCoast region. As founder Jessica Webb describes it, “Meditation and yoga are practical skills that transform lives, but not everyone can get to a yoga studio, so we’re bringing the studio to them”.

Project Wheel House’s current partners include The Women’s Center, The Southcoast LGBTQ Network, YouthBuild NB, YWCA Girls Exclusive, Doodles Creative, and 3rdEye Unlimited.

For more details about the event, including the full schedule of Saturday morning yoga sessions and instructors, please visit: www.projectwheelhouse.org/20-in-20. Project Wheel House is a graduate of the Summer 2017 EforAll Southcoast entrepreneurship accelerator.

Project Wheel House continues free yoga for LGBTQ

NB-AGLY Center, “A Perfect Place.”

NB-AGLY Center, “A Perfect Place.”

The SCLGBTQ network is gearing up for a big year. It’s turning five years old, it’s the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the 15th anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts. It’s holding an event at the Harbor Hotel on Union Street, May 31 from 6 to 9 p.m. to celebrate the two anniversaries, including hosting a meet and greet with Stonewall veterans and recognizing those on the SouthCoast who were instrumental in the fight for marriage equality.

Thanks to Project Wheel House of New Bedford, NB-AGLY / “A Perfect Place” at 484 Pleasant St. has been hosting yoga for the last six months for ages 14 and up in eight-week sessions. Another eight-week session will start in April. This is in addition to programs like Pride Cafe every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m.; an LGBTQ social support group for those 18 and older; a Thursday group from 5 to 7 p.m. for LGBTQ ages 14 to 24; and Sober and Out, or LGBTQ AA, on Sundays from 9 to 10 a.m.

In April, the network plans to start a book club and a movie night, she said. It’s organizing SouthCoast Pride June 1 at Buttonwood Park.

“We want to be that connection for people to the community,” Network president Rebecca McCullough said.

Free mindfulness class at North End health event

Near North End Alliance Health Day March 2.

Near North End Alliance Health Day March 2.

The Near North End Alliance, in collaboration with New Bedford Community Connections Coalition, United Way of Greater New Bedford, Coastal Foodshed, Mass in Motion, Project Wheel House, and Southcoast Health, is hosting a Community Health Day on Saturday, March 2 to bring community members living in the near North End out for a fun day for the whole family. The event is free to attend and will feature music, lunch, activities, and raffles. There will be preventative health screenings provided by Southcoast Health, healthy cooking demonstrations, yoga and mindfulness demonstrations, community resource tables and more.

The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Global Learning Charter School, 190 Ashley Blvd. A rain date has been set for March 16.

Colorful Yoga in New Bedford teaches kids mindfulness, how to work together

Kids work on a candle breathing exercise with Nicole Winning, instructor (not pictured). David Oliviera, photo.

Kids work on a candle breathing exercise with Nicole Winning, instructor (not pictured). David Oliviera, photo.

NEW BEDFORD — “In this journey, I want you to dive deep, deep, deep into your heart,” said Nicole Winning.

As she led the group of kids through a series of poses and breathing patterns, sun shone through two large windows in the mediumstudio loft space on Bethel Street, illuminating the multi-colored yoga mats that were placed in the shape of a sunflower.

It was closing in on the end of Saturday’s session of Colorful Yoga, an art and movement series hosted collaboratively by Project Wheel House and Doodles Creative Session, a branch of 3rd EyE Unlimited.

Now in the program’s fourth week, the free sessions have attracted a diverse group of kids from New Bedford, with about 20 kids and their parents present for Saturday’s session.

The proposition is perfectly simple: Nicole Winning of Project Wheelhouse and Samia Walker of Doodles host a group that ranges anywhere in age from three or four to 10 and allow them to both create art and practice yoga in an environment that is equal parts empowering and accepting.

Walker oversees the arts side of the program, and then Winning leads the group in a routine to round out the morning.

As the kids were seated around a ping-pong table, they created whatever they wanted.

Some attempted realism, others abstract art, and some created color fields, perhaps providing an early look at the next Rothko.

According to Walker, this is the Doodles model.

“It’s a youth arts program where the kids come in, they’re provided with a bunch of different materials and they just have the freedom to create,” said Walker. “There’s no lesson plan, there’s no rules, there’s no nothing. It’s just guided, exploratory, hands on, they get really messy, and they love it.”

Walker limits her guiding hand to, mainly, that of positive affirmation, allowing the kids themselves to choose what they make, and where that takes them. “They need expression,” said Walker. “Kids have to be kids, we need to protect that in a sense and foster that creativity.”

If the arts portion of the morning is exploring what they can put onto a page, Winning hopes the yoga portion will lead the kids to look inward.

“Yoga helps up to be aware of our bodies, yoga helps us to be aware of our breath, and yoga helps us to be aware of our inner worlds, and lastly, yoga helps us to be aware of how all of them are connected,” said Winning. “In general people are becoming more aware of how our inner worlds are affecting the outer environment.”

The two styles complement each other well, and Walker says that both she and Winning’s goals are completely aligned with one another.

″[Winning’s] main goal is to teach mindfulness and my main goal is to teach the kids how to work together,” said Walker.

A collaborative arts and yoga program is, by design, unique.

Unique is good, and falls perfectly in line with the footprints of 3rd EyE, the program that helps put on these sessions, and a place Walker felt at home as a teen.

“We were underserved, underrepresented, low-class and 3rd EyE [gave] us that opportunity to do our own thing. So we want to do that for the kids as well.”

Project Wheel House awarded $1,500 at EforAll ceremony

(l to r) Shelley Cardoos from EforAll, PWH Founding Director Jessica Webb, PWH mentor Angela Johnston, and Jeremiah Hernandez from EforAll.

(l to r) Shelley Cardoos from EforAll, PWH Founding Director Jessica Webb, PWH mentor Angela Johnston, and Jeremiah Hernandez from EforAll.

Project Wheel House is dedicated to fostering personal and cultural embodied change by alleviating human suffering through mind-body programs for vulnerable populations. Project Wheel House aims to empower disenfranchised and/or under-represented communities. Integral to their mission is the goal of elevating individuals through a variety of mind-body programs regardless of their current economic status, religion, or skin color. Learn more here


With yoga, mindfulness programs, Project Wheel House aims to change trajectory of at-risk women

Jessica Webb is hosting a Twister tournament to raise money for her non-profit. Courtesy, Jessica Webb

Jessica Webb is hosting a Twister tournament to raise money for her non-profit. Courtesy, Jessica Webb

By Tanner Harding, Aug 10, 2017

Shelters and prisons are two places you might least expect to encounter women perfecting a "tree pose" or "lotus position" -- two common yoga movements.

But Mattapoisett resident Jessica Webb says those are two underserved, at-risk populations that could benefit the most from practicing yoga and meditation.

The owner of Anchor Yoga in Mattapoisett, Webb is launching a nonprofit called Project Wheel House, which will bring yoga, mindfulness, and meditation to vulnerable and at-risk groups -- especially women -- who otherwise wouldn't have access to such programs.

“I’ve witnessed a lot of trauma either at the hands of an intimate partner, or being at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Webb said. “Your trauma is with you 24/7, so if you’re taking a meditation course in prison and you’re being taught how to navigate highs and lows…I feel that would be benefitting the group as a whole.”

Webb has raised funding for the initiative through donations received during free yoga sessions she hosts at Ned's Point lighthouse in Mattapoisett on Saturdays from May to September.

Webb hopes to begin a privately-funded pilot program at a women's shelter in New Bedford in mid-September and is currently accelerating her fundraising efforts.

A "Twister Tournament" is planned for August 13 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the New Bedford Boys and Girls Club, 166 Jenney St. It costs $15 for one player or $55 for a team of four. Yes -- that's the left-hand-red, right-foot-green game that got you tied up in knots as a teenager. If you do yoga, you may have an edge!

If enough money can be raised, the eight-week pilot program will offer an hour-long program twice-weekly that focuses specifically on areas such as mindfulness and emotional resilience.

Webb said this is not the first time she’s taught these specifically focused programs before, as she’s taught classes to deal with anxiety, depression, everyday stress, insomnia and other common ailments. In all her classes, Webb urges awareness.

“Basically my teaching in yoga is about being aware, and being aware that you’re in your body and knowing what that means,” she said. “If there’s a thought in your mind, if there’s a narrative, just being aware of it and instead of judging it and fighting it, letting it run its course. Every thought has a shelf life. Nothing is permanent, and all things will change.”

Webb will administer surveys at the beginning and end of the pilot program to track the benefits and progress made. With data in hand, she hopes to be eligible to apply for grant funding to bolster Project Wheel House and its programming.

She is also participating in 12-week accelerator program, typically for start-up businesses, called EforAll, which is helping her launch the nonprofit.

Ultimately, Webb said her goal with this program is just to improve society one person at a time.

“If I touch one person and they realize their innate human potential…then I’m working toward a more awakened society as a whole,” she said. “As human beings, we’re kind of tethered to distractions…when we peel away the facades and see our true selves, that’s our true aim. It’s not about yoga, it’s about people seeing their potential.”

For more information on Project Wheel House, visit www.projectwheelhouse.org.

Project Wheel House selected for "accelerator" program

PWH founder Jessica Webb, front row, center.

PWH founder Jessica Webb, front row, center.

With over 30 applications, EforAll interviewed 24 Semi-finalists and selected 15 companies for the Summer 2017 Accelerator. The EforAll Accelerator’s goal is to help launch ideas and give early-stage entrepreneurs a greater chance at success. The EforAll Summer Accelerator is a 12-week intensive program that meets twice a week over the summer months.

The Accelerator culminates with a competition for cash prizes. Some of the cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the program, and the remainder will be awarded as part of quarterly check-ins, which continue for 9 months after the end of the Accelerator. During the Accelerator we will look at: progress towards goals, participation, the final presentation, and engagement in the community. Participants are required to meet with mentors regularly outside of the twice weekly EforAll meetings. Project Wheel House is a non-profit yoga business aims to help underserved communities on the South Coast of Massachusetts.