This is a personal perspective of an individual service experience of a Certified ChildLight Yoga Instructor. Articles, interviews and other communications shared by ChildLight Yoga, LLC are intended to demonstrate the reach and impact of yoga and mindfulness practices for children and in no way reflect any particular political views.
Q: How did you find your way to ChildLight Yoga?
A: On a reporting trip to Palestine, I witnessed how traumatized the children were after regular house raids. I was practicing yoga to keep myself centered and wanted to share the tools of yoga I was using to help them find inner calm despite their tense environment. Upon my return to the US, I talked with my regular yoga teacher about my interest in teaching yoga to children. She suggested that before I took the plunge into a 200-hour YTT program that I dip my toes in the water with a course at ChildLight Yoga and explore what resonated with me.
Q: Why are you interested in yoga and mindfulness for children?
A: Yoga helps children build strength and flexibility, both physically and mentally, so that they can become more resilient. They build self-confidence and a sense of connectedness with others and their environment. I am drawn to teaching yoga to children as it helps them deepen their respect for themselves and those around them.
Q: Can you tell us about your overall training experience with ChildLight Yoga? Any special details you wish to share?
A: The focus on alignment in the adult yoga class I had been taking for years made me wary of establishing a home practice. What if I weren’t doing each yoga form correctly and reinjured my knee? During the first yoga training at ChildLight Yoga, the trainer insured that we had a safe practice, but for the first time, I allowed myself to relax into the yoga forms. I could feel my shoulders, my whole body, soften, no longer feeling like a tight rubber band. That first ChildLight training taught me what my regular instructor had always said but I had not yet embodied, that we can go deeper not by pushing but by using the breath and releasing. It was the nonjudgmental, playful atmosphere created by the trainer and fellow students that helped me discover what yoga could be.
In various ChildLight Yoga trainings, I discovered interests I didn’t expect. I never would have imagined how much fun I’d have teaching yoga to preschoolers; I love selecting the books for story time yoga with them. And had I not done the training on working with children with special needs, I would not have applied to a program to become an advocate for children with developmental disabilities. The CLY trainings broadened the population of students I once thought I would serve.
Q: How are you applying what you learned with your community? What are you passionate about sharing?
A: I have strived to go to where kids are: to a public library, a YMCA, a homeless shelter, a daycare. I have also reached out to local schools. In my rural area with overly scheduled kids and working parents, it makes the most sense to advocate for adding yoga to the curriculum of pre-existing programs.
Most important to me is helping children and families cultivate inner strength to better support themselves and others in life. Through the yoga practice–as we explore our innermost values–we can express compassion to ourselves and others, find community, and fill a toolbox with techniques for finding calm despite the vicissitudes of life.
Q: What do you find to be the most beneficial yoga and mindfulness tools for the population that you work with these days?
A: With slow deep breaths we can regulate how we feel and how we respond to different situations. I find nothing more transformative than learning to use the breath techniques of yoga.
Q: Can you describe for us the most rewarding moment that you've had so far in your kid's yoga teaching journey?
A: In December, 2018, I traveled to Kabul for the sixth time, where I volunteer with youth at the Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre. The youth often question aloud if they will be alive the next day. The stressors of daily life means that anger often arises and not all the youth know a healthy outlet for it.
During my visits, I have led audio editing workshops and yoga classes. On my most recent visit, during the game of Add One, I would sit, holding the space, observing, as students rested in legs up the wall or in child’s pose. They seemed at peace. That during our yoga practice they could find moments of inner peace moved me in a profound way.
Carolyn Coe earned a 200-hr. YTT certificate from the ShivaShakti School of Yoga in Union, Maine in 2016, and in 2019 completed the ChildLight Yoga 95-hr. Children’s Yoga Teacher Certification. She has also completed more than 40 hours of trauma-sensitive yoga teacher training and is currently pursuing a 300-hr. YTT program at Kripalu. Her AB in English Language and Literature is from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and she holds an MA from New York University from the Draper Interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities and Social Thought. In addition to teaching yoga, she is an adjunct writing instructor for the University of Maine at Augusta. She loves traveling, reading, and being active in the outdoors. She lives with her dog Taiga in Maine.