1. How did you find your way to ChildLight?
I found ChildLight after using the internet to research available trainings. I realized that a lot of the trainings were local to me and other ones that I had to travel to were actually places that I would love to visit.
2. Why are you interested in yoga & mindfulness for children?
I always knew that I wanted to get certified to teach yoga to children. I found yoga at about 18 years old and it truly changed my life. I know that if I had learned the skills that I now know at 30, my life would have been much easier to take on. I truly do believe that yoga is for everyBODY. And if you can learn the practice of yoga at a young age, that is something that you will take with you for the rest of your life. Your life will be blissful and in turn everyone around you will be impacted positively.
3. Can you tell us about your overall training experience with ChildLight? Any special details you wish to share?
My training with ChildLight was above and beyond anything I could've imagined. I went into each day with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. I love children and it was incredible to see that each and every trainer felt as passionate about young yogi's as I do. The hands on experience, the real life scenarios and the intricately planned manuals complimented each piece of the training. I always left feeling as though I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. I have to say that during my Tweens & Teens training with Ann Biese, I was able to dig deep into my own life and heal some wounds that I didn't even realize needed to be healed. Ann reminded me very much of someone that I was deeply connected with and had lost about ten years ago. I felt so comfortable in her presence, I was able to really be me. Ann's kindness, realness, her tone of voice, her way of teaching…everything that she encompasses as a children's yoga teacher was SO super inspiring. That weekend was very special to me and something that made a huge impact on me as a person and in turn as a yoga teacher. THANK YOU, Ann!
4. How are you applying what you learned with your community? What are you passionate about sharing?
I love being able to turn back to the manual and quickly be reminded of something we learned in the training. As I am planning classes for different age groups, I'm taking bits and pieces of EVERY training as I feel that it all came full circle. My classes are about 45 minutes and are filled with community, bonding, breath work, yoga poses, games, dancing, singing and just a ton of FUN. Everyone is included, everyone is mindful and I do feel that everyone leaves more at peace. I truly love sharing the Pranayama aspect of yoga. I know the importance of the breath– it is a daily reminder that we are alive. I had NO idea about the breath before I walked into yoga teacher training. Yes, I knew that I was breathing but over time my body (and mind) was in full on fight or flight mode. It wasn't good for me and my yoga practice taught me how to change that. I see so many children that are in constant stress mode. I don't blame them at all, I was once there! So to be able to begin a 45 minute yoga practice with a young yogi that is shallow breathing and to end it with them breathing deeply with ease…has truly changed my life.
5. What do you find to be the most beneficial yoga & mindfulness tools for the population that you work with these days?
Again, I would come back to the breath! Any breathing exercise and any prop you can use to convey what you are teaching. I love the mindfulness exercises where you tap into your senses and allow yourself to be fully present. I get a lot of feedback from caregivers where they tell me that their child is able to self soothe and feel at ease with a simple breathing exercise that they learned in my class. Or they found them on a mindfulness walk around the house.
6. Can you describe for us the most rewarding moment that you've had so far in your children's yoga teaching journey?
I would say that the most rewarding moment to date was over the summer when I was teaching yoga and mindfulness to a group of ten, mostly twelve year olds. I taught them a couple of breathing exercises including the "take 5" breath as we centered in the beginning of class. I explained that you can do this anywhere. At your desk at school, at home in your room, in line at the grocery store, etc. Any time that you feel overwhelmed, stressed or just need a few minutes to yourself. They looked very confused at first as I explained it and later said that nobody ever talked to them about breathing. As the class went on, I gave them multiple chances to come to whatever exercise they felt most drawn to. I watched half of the class come to the take 5 breath time and time again. I watched their faces light up and could feel such a peaceful energy. I knew that this was something that they would take with them for the rest of their lives.
I cannot thank you enough for everything that you and the ChildLight team has taught me. These trainings have improved every aspect of my life. They have helped as a human being and as a teacher. I feel SO blessed to be a part of this family!
Courtney Pepe completed ChildLight’s 95hr RCYS program in October of 2019. She resides in Red Hill, PA and is the owner of Quartz Yoga & Wellness Studio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.