I have long known the benefits of yoga for myself, but after the birth of my first child and a difficult postpartum experience, I found that attending a mommy and me class with my new baby really helped me find a stronger connection to her. When I went back to work after three months, I was sad that I couldn't find many opportunities for us to go to classes together except during weekday mornings. I finally found a wonderful family yoga class in my town that I went to for years with both of my girls. As they aged out of that class, I found myself looking for something for children ages 3-8 or so. I decided my 2017 New Year's Resolution would be to train to teach kids' yoga. A google search later and I had applied to ChildLight Yoga’s 95-hour program! (I had already completed my 200 hr YTT in 2012).
2. Why are you interested in yoga and mindfulness for children?
I am especially interested in yoga and mindfulness for the whole family. I've used many techniques learned in my own yoga to help with my parenting, especially when my children were very young. I remember using Ujjayi breathing to slow my own anxious heart rate while holding my babies. I could feel that as I relaxed, they relaxed and as they grew older, they learned to breath with me, to sing Om-Shanti and to chant oms at bedtime. I think it's very important for children to continue to feel comfortable in their own bodies and with themselves as they grow. Yoga and mindfulness can help kids connect with themselves, use their imagination and learn how to recognize and be in more control of the big feelings they're having.
3. Can you tell us about your overall training experience with ChildLight Yoga? Any special details you wish to share?
It's been a wonderful experience! I have enjoyed the community that built through those I've met at trainings and those I know only virtually through the Facebook group of instructors. With each module, I am humbled to be learning from the extremely experienced and talented teachers at CLY. There have been so many wonderful tips and tricks that I bring back to my classes, as well as ideas for lesson plans, props and activities.
4. How are you applying what you learned with your community? What are you passionate about sharing?
I teach a Family Yoga class at the studio where I did my 200 hour training and took prenatal and postpartum yoga. I love that the family yoga classes I teach have become a place for moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and other caregivers to come together as a community to support our children on their own journeys. Together we help the children learn ways to express themselves, listen to their bodies and calm anxious minds all while having so much fun being silly. For me, the most important part of the class is that the kids and their adults are connecting and doing something together.
I've also really enjoyed volunteering to teach yoga at my children's school and after care program, at our Unitarian Universalist church and with my daughter's Brownie troop.
5. What do you find to be the most beneficial yoga and mindfulness tools for the population that you work with these days?
My family yoga classes LOVE the Hoberman Sphere – we do the "breathing ball" near the beginning of every class to remind them what it feels like to take the deepest of breaths. I just love how quiet the room gets and how it sounds (and how the energy in the room feels!) when we have 20+ people (kids and adults) breathing in unison.
6. Can you describe for us the most rewarding moment that you’ve had so far in your kid’s yoga teaching journey?
I have a Pen Pals lesson plan that I use in my Family Yoga class. I read the book "Same, Same But Different" by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw and we do poses based on the book. The takeaway for the kids is a postcard with a stamp on it. It's all ready to go, I just ask that they think of someone they'd like to write to it and send it out before the next class. After I taught this class for the first time, one of the moms pulled me aside before the next class. She told me that her five-year-old son had decided to write to a grandfather that the family doesn't have much of a relationship with. She was happy that he had reached out to his grandfather and hoped it would start more of a bond with the grandfather and their family. I am grateful for every hug and thank you from every child. I am grateful each time I get to watch a parent or grandparent have a special moment during Savasana with their little one. But this was, above all, something that really made me feel like I had brought some kindness and love into this world through yoga.