Back in 2004 I was teaching yoga and generally minding my own business. In the last 3 months of that year 3 highly influential women in my life all suggested I teach Kids yoga. I couldn’t have been less enthusiastic about the idea. To me, kids were like wild animals, and rightly so! They are meant to play! Life gets plenty serious as you get older, there’s no escaping that. Kids SHOULD ride around like maniacs and generally have as much fun and playtime as possible.
Anyway, 2004 was drawing to a close. I was heading to India with one of the 3 highly influential women mentioned above. We flew from LA to Delhi but stopped in Shanghai due to fog. That night I had a dream that I’d met a Kids yoga teacher in China who was teaching. I wrote in my journal that it was a “bit unsettling”. I don’t speak Chinese, but I sure did in the dream.
A few weeks later we were returning to Los Angeles and again were stopped in Shanghai. On the night of December 30th I had the same dream I’d had previously, except this time, it was me who was teaching the Kids yoga class…in Chinese! I woke up on December 31st of 2004 determined that I would start teaching Kids yoga. Upon my return to LA I enrolled in 3 Kids yoga teacher trainings and a Child Development class in college.
I was fortunate to have a mentor at once. She took me on as an assistant for three classes a week. Within 4 months she’d taken maternity leave and I was thrust into the teacher spot.
Thus began GroovyKids Yoga. At the time I’d been nicknamed Groovy and it had become what my yoga friends called me. It seemed obvious to me that my classes would be groovy, at the very least. Groovy is difficult to define or explain, but it’s a lot like art. No one can say why something’s groovy; it’s felt from the inside. And so it’s possible for everyone.
I determined right away that my classes would be a celebration of everything being a child is. More chaos than order, more play than work, more fun than normal. I determined never to make one child better or worse than another. I decided and vowed to myself; no child would be bored in my class, no one would be spoken to differently, just kids and yoga.
As I developed my own style and comfort level with the class, I took mental notes of what worked and what didn’t. When the kids were more engaged and less engaged. I had a great deal of fun doing this because kids love being able to say stuff. And they love even more when someone listens and then answers them. I also developed over this period more and more the art of improvisation with the class. It’s curious that on the one hand kids love structure, they find it comforting and confidence building. And yet no one but a kid can switch so instantly to the total opposite in a moment. So I learned the ways to maintain a scaffold even in the mightiest tempest.
After my intense first year of teaching GroovyKids Yoga I began thinking seriously about the whole idea of teaching kids yoga, and in fact teaching them anything. I felt that each of the trainings I’d enrolled in, while they were wonderful and tremendously helpful, they were missing the one crucial element: the interaction between teacher and student.
Sometimes destiny gives you a helping hand. Just four months into the second year, I was invited out of the blue to go to Japan and teach a 20 hour module of a 200 hour Teacher Training. And so I elucidated my thoughts and feelings into a short manual, detailed my approach to the philosophy of teaching kids and before I knew it, I was teaching 27 yogis what GroovyKids Yoga is all about.
What was true 10 years ago is still true today, even more so because of the proliferation of attention-sucking devices available to small hands.
Human contact. There’s no substitute for it. It’s like breast-feeding for the soul. We need it to counter the diseases of the mind that adulthood thrusts upon us.
GroovyKids Yoga is about the relationship between teacher and student. It’s about seeing truly without judgment the person in front of you. The one who is currently present. Not the one you want them to be.
In the 10 years that we’ve traveled the world teaching GroovyKids Yoga, one thing stands out more than most. Movement is a universal language. Laughter, smiles, joy, balance, fun, rest and play: these are universal languages. We speak them without words and freely. We’ve seen kids in Norway laugh in tree pose just like the kids in Dubai and Tokyo. The delight we’ve seen in our classes in Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Qatar is there for all to witness. Kids love to move. And when they move they learn. And when they learn they grow. And so we say #movetolearntogrow. It holds true in America as it does in Switzerland.
GroovyKids Yoga classes are currently taught in 11 countries across the globe, in pre-schools and gyms, in high schools and dance halls; before football games and after cross country runs. Our teachers are spreading the simple philosophy that all are welcome, whatever size, creed, gender, age or faith. The tree pose is the tree pose no matter where you are or when you’re there.
GroovyKids Yoga is an International Kids Yoga Teacher Training program. We teach movement and stillness.