ChildLight Yoga’s recent 95-hour Registered Children’s Yoga School graduate, Kathleen Belonga, saw a strong need for yoga and mindfulness in her hometown of St. Joseph, MI. We hope you enjoy learning about her journey as much as we did!
How did you find your way to ChildLight Yoga?
Although I was already a yoga teacher, I wanted to be sure that I knew how to teach children in an age-appropriate way, so I started researching programs online and found ChildLight Yoga. I loved the Yoga 4 Classrooms card deck, Lisa's book and the wonderful online resources.
Why are you interested in yoga and mindfulness for children?
When my children were younger we used to do kids yoga videos for fun. Some years later, I was required to write a research paper in grad school, on a holistic health topic. Yoga was my topic and my research revealed a whole other side of yoga. Yoga was so much more than exercise, it was a wellness tool. According to my research, regular yoga practice can help relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and more. My research inspired me to learn more, to deepen my own practice, and enroll in a yoga teacher training program. The training program was life changing It wasn’t long after, while volunteering at my children’s school, I found myself observing behavior and thought, wow, these children really need some tools. Yoga shouldn’t be available for just adults, yoga is for everyone, including children and teens. At that time, there were no local instructors specifically trained in how to deliver yoga to children, let alone in a school setting, so it made sense to pursue a program specializing in both.
Can you tell us about your overall training experience with ChildLight Yoga? Any special details you wish to share?
My first training weekend began in 2013 in the DC area with Sally Delisle and Jen Mueller. Since then, I traveled to a few other east coast destinations for
weekend trainings, including the ChildLight studio. I was a bit of a pioneer here in Michigan when I first trained. Nobody in my town had children’s yoga training or experience. It's nice to see that finally last year, ChildLight brought its first training to Michigan. I went for a refresher and made some great new friends. It has been a fun & rewarding journey getting to meet so many incredible like-minded people from all over the US and Canada, who share the same passion for working children. Best of all, was the opportunity to meet others with this shared interest and to be able to exchange ideas and gain knowledge and inspiration from their experiences. Since receiving my certification, I continue to find support on-line through the CLY Facebook groups.
How are you applying what you learned within your community? What are you passionate about sharing?
Teaching yoga & mindfulness to children and teens is much different from teaching adults. There is also a difference in how yoga & mindfulness might be taught to younger populations in a yoga studio than when it is done in a school setting. The training I received through ChildLight Yoga really brought awareness to this and emphasized how to deliver yoga teachings appropriately to both audiences. The CLY trainers are all well-experienced in teaching yoga & mindfulness both in studios and schools and they really prepare you for success with detailed manuals and lots of support. I feel very confident that I can walk into a school, whether it's a classroom or gym class, and know that I am prepared to deliver a fun, yet appropriate class to my students. I love sharing exercises from the card decks, along with the fun games and activities from my manuals.
What do you find to be the most beneficial yoga and mindfulness tools for the population that you work with these days?
Breathing exercises are the most beneficial tools in the school setting. The Ocean Breath or Balloon Breath are the most commonly used with new groups of students. Students say they feel calmer, more focused and less stressed. I always tell the students if they get anything out of our time together, I hope it is learning how to pause for a moment and breathe, even if it’s just a few mindful breaths a day. My students also love my singing bowl. It produces a very nice, soothing sound.
To learn more about ChildLight Yoga’s 95hr Registered Children’s Yoga School (RCYS), click here.
Kathleen Belonga, RYT-500, RCYT, owns mindful living & yoga which is a mobile yoga & wellness business that delivers onsite yoga and mindfulness classes to schools, companies, private groups, retreat centers, and more. Additional offerings include private 1:1 yoga lessons and personalized wellness coaching.Learn more at Kathleen’s website: www.kathleenbelonga.com