How long have you been teaching kids yoga and mindfulness? What inspired you to get started?
I have been teaching children’s yoga for almost 12 years now and leading workshops and children’s yoga teacher trainings for the past 5. I began working with children when I was old enough to babysit and have been practicing yoga since I was 18 years old. So when I discovered a children’s yoga teacher training program that would allow me to bring my love for working with children and my love of yoga together, I was all in!
Tell us a bit more about your work. What does a typical day look like?
My goal is to bring more peace to the world, one little yogi at a time, and I do this through my business, Peace Play. Whether I’m teaching a kids yoga class, leading a workshop on yoga tools to use with your kids at home, running my teacher training or providing information for teachers and parents on social media, I am working towards my goal of bringing yoga into the lives of more children, and therefore creating more peace.
What are the specific ways you think yoga can be helpful for kids?
Yoga is incredibly beneficial for children. When I say Yoga, I am referring to a complete yoga practice consisting of much more than physical poses. The poses are great, of course, and help children develop balance and coordination, flexibility and strength, balance, focus and more. But stopping there would be a disservice to the practice, and to the children. Teaching meditation helps children learn to focus. Relaxation techniques help them discover the importance of rest. Breath work teaches them they have the power to calm themselves down or get a boost of energy when needed. The yamas and niyamas teach them how to treat themselves and others in peaceful, respectful ways. By bringing yoga into a child’s life we are offering them a chance to practice peace, in a natural and playful way.
Tell us about that one pivotal experience—the student, class or moment—that keeps you going even when your work gets challenging.
During my first year of teaching yoga to children, I had a parent ask to speak to me after class. She told me that her daughter’s school teacher shared a story with her that she wanted to share with me. Her daughter, who was 8 years old at the time, had been very nervous about an upcoming test she had to take in school and was showing signs of stress. Right before the test began, the little girl pushed her chair away from her desk and said, “I just need a minute to do some yoga breathing.” And after a few moments and some deep breaths, pulled herself back in and said, “OK now I am ready.” That story has stuck with me for all of these years, and I tell it during each teacher training I lead. It is incredible to hear that a child takes what you teach them in a yoga class and applies it in their every day life. That’s what this is all about for me. It isn’t just about teaching children how to do down dog or a handstand. Its teaching them valuable yoga tools that they can use for the rest of their lives.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
Child’s pose has become my favorite pose, both for myself and the children in my classes. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body you are safe, and that its time to rest and relax. We all need a little more of this in our lives, including children.
What brings you the most joy in sharing yoga with kids?
I feel blessed that this is what I get to do with my life. I want to make an impact, a BIG one. I want to bring more peace to the world. I want to make a huge difference. And every day, through actions big or small, I feel like I am accomplishing this. That brings me a ton of joy.
What are your hobbies, outside of yoga (of course!)
I love being outside in nature, traveling, reading and gardening.