I started the YogaKids training back in 2007 because I wanted to gain the skills and tools I needed to successfully teach yoga to kids. What I found over the course of the one year program, and the years that followed, was that it not only provided me with the skills I needed to teach — but in many ways helped me to become happier in all aspects of my life. For me it really was a certification in happiness, as it taught me how to love better, nurture myself, and to experience life with a greater sense of awe. Below are many of the key benefits I gained from the program.
A Regular Yoga Practice
During the YogaKids At Home Practicum, YogaKids Apprentices (YKAs) are instructed to cultivate a regular yoga practice. Many of us would love to do this, but find it difficult to commit the time necessary to reap the benefits of a regular practice. Researchers estimate that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for complaints and conditions that are, in some way, stress-related. Yoga, meditation and breathing techniques are three very important tools for relieving stress. Regular yoga practitioners typically report less pain, more vitality and a deep sense of peace. What happens on a yoga mat doesn’t stay on the yoga mat; it spills over into every aspect of one’s life in wonderful ways.
Parenthood can be a time of great inner turmoil. The YogaKids program teaches a calm approach to caring for yourself and your children. Patience, mindfulness and a focus on the bigger picture allows us to parent with love, patience, and gentle guidance, and opens us up to the possibility that not everything may go as exactly planned — and sometimes this leads to life’s most joyful experiences.
The qualities that our YKAs experience as a result of the training (love, exuberance, and a playful exuberance) affect not only their lives in a profoundly wonderful way; it affects the lives of everyone they touch. Once I began a daily meditation practice combined with asana (yoga postures) practice, my husband found that I was more compassionate, understanding, and appreciative of him — which all affected our relationship in a wonderful way. In her article Master of Love, author Emily Smith states that of all the couples that get married, only 3 in 10 remain in healthy, happy marriages. In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward. Not only did my marriage improve, but my friendships became more satisfying and meaningful as well. When you start offering your time, advice, and companionship for no other reason than to simply give of yourself, the rewards are immeasurable. When you give and expect something in return, disappointment usually follows.
Community and Life-Long Friendships
The YogaKids live trainings (Foundations and Transformations) bring together a unique group of like-minded people from all across the world. The connections made at the live events often last much longer than the training. When we make a positive social connection, the pleasure-inducing hormone oxytocin is released into our bloodstream, immediately reducing anxiety and improving concentration and focus. YogaKids circles are full of lovely like-minded people joining together with a common goal — to spread the love of yoga to the world, one child at a time.
Experience Childlike Joy
One of my favorite YogaKids poses is Pedal Laughing. You lie down and pedal the hands and feet as if you are on a bike and… laugh. A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally; it lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins which help your mood. In a YogaKids class, we bark in Down Dog, pick bugs off each other in Bug Pickin’ Chimp and wiggle our noses in Bunny Breath. Try doing any of these poses without smiling or laughing. The very nature of many of the YogaKids poses is joy.
Teachers join the YogaKids Certification for many different reasons — from professional enrichment to starting a new career. Most of our teachers find that the personal rewards are just as impactful — if not more than — the professional opportunities that the program provides. I know it’s been that way for me.