Shari Vilchez-Blatt is the Founder and Director of Karma Kids Yoga. Shari has trained over sixteen hundred people around the world to teach yoga to children through the Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training Program. Many of them have started their own kids yoga programs. She has also trained hundreds of Preschool, Elementary, Middle and High School Educators through KKY’s Yoga in the Classroom and Yoga in the Preschool Classroom courses, spreading the benefits of yoga into the public and private school systems.
What are the specific ways you think yoga can be helpful for kids?
Where do I start?? Yoga can be so helpful for our bodies and our brains. Yoga makes the difference sometimes in our moods, our expectations and how we approach things. Yoga makes our bodies stronger, our minds clearer, and our whole being happier. It builds our confidence, challenges ourselves, and helps to find inner-peace. It helps us to make different choices, to build compassion and empathy, and to create a kind space in ourselves. It’s a medium for self-exploration for our lives. It’s helps us to love ourselves inside and out.
Tell us about that one pivotal experience—the student, class or moment—that keeps you going even when your work gets challenging.
There was a young boy in my toddler class with special needs. He would do his own thing, and participated when he felt like it. Relaxation and foot rubs were his favorite thing. One class (after attending about 3 classes), he walked over to me, put his hands on my cheeks, looked me in the eyes and smiled. He held this for about 4 – 5 seconds. It was a magical moment for me, as he invited me into his world and we connected. It was at that very moment that I knew I personally wanted to work with more special needs children.
Who or what inspires you the most in your work?
When children have that successful moment of getting a pose that they’ve been working on…usually something challenging like an arm balance or inversion. Or when you see the stress and anger leave a teens body. Or when a child breathes in and breathes out a smile.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Observing children grown stronger, more confident, and more comfortable in their bodies.
What brings you the deepest joy in your own yoga practice and in sharing yoga with kids?
Relaxation time. Really being able to melt into it. I love watching my students take full advantage of this time. There’s nothing like it.
What is your favorite yoga pose? Is there one pose that you always include in your kids yoga classes?
Handstands are my favorite. I always include a challenging pose in all of my classes, no matter what the age. Children are so capable! Challenging poses build confidence and self-esteem, they teach us to work hard, connect with our bodies, builds focus and concentration, they release energy, and it’s a huge sense of accomplishment when we get the pose.
Describe your vision for the future of kids yoga.
My vision is for all kids have the opportunity to practice yoga. Through school, at a studio, in camp, at home….any way that it can reach them. I hope to see more schools continue to incorporate the benefits of yoga into their curriculum or at the least peppered into their classrooms as needed. Yoga should be available to all kids and families of all backgrounds. The tools that we can use will come in handy for a lifetime!
I’m looking forward to seeing how today’s child that grows up on yoga will make a difference in the world!