When life presents you with an opportunity to practice what you preach, do it! This summer I was offered the position as a Yoga specialist for Summit Ridge Day Camp. At first, I initially tried to give the job to fellow yoga teachers, thinking I was not good enough, qualified enough, or ready to jump into an opportunity like this. Truthfully, I didn’t really even consider the position for myself until the Director said, “Why don’t you just do it?”. Hmmmm- well, I had never thought about it. I came up with reasons as to why I couldn’t, then decided, what the heck, YES I CAN! And, let me tell you, it was one of the most exciting things to happen to me over the summer. (Besides turning 40 and escaping to Cuba for 4 days!)
I started practicing yoga when I was 20 years old, while attending the University of San Diego. My roommate and I decided we wanted to learn more about this practice that was starting to build up steam as a main stream fitness option in the mid-90s, so we took a class offered through our university for 1 P.E. credit. The instructor’s name was Sunshine (not kidding), and we practiced yoga for the first time in a flourescent lit room in the fitness center, on linoleum tile, probably with a borrowed mat (which, ew, would never do today). I was hooked. Finding a mental and physical balance compelled me to achieve this goal that seemed so unattainable at the time. The more I did yoga, the more I loved it. I had a dance and cheerleading background growing up, so I was already quite flexible. No other fitness routine spoke to my body the way yoga did. My muscles craved the length and challenge of working my way into crazy positions. My mind begged for the stability discovering inner peace would bring. I suffered through the 24-Hour Fitness yoga classes when that was all I could find in Las Vegas after I moved back from San Diego. I remember learning about Sherry Goldstein and taking one of her classes in an office building somewhere off of Pecos. I didn’t care where I took class, as long as I could get to a good class, and find a great instructor. I joined gyms just because some of my favorite yoga instructors taught there.
Fast forward to 32, where I am working for a yoga based athletic wear company trying to make a name for themselves in the Las Vegas community. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I loved every aspect about working for lululemon athletica, but what I gained the most from working in this environment was connecting with the fitness and health gurus in my own community. I learned so much more about the true practice of yoga- living it every day and taking it “off the mat”. Most of what I learned, I learned from my staff and the amazing yoga instructors we have right here in both Henderson and Las Vegas. I started putting these learnings into my every day life, and how I manage myself, my family and my priorities. When my own kids were old enough, I put them in kids’ yoga whenever I could find it. Oliver and Stella did yoga for years, but when the twins got to an age where I could put them in a class, I had a really hard time finding one. The practice of yoga is so important to me, that I wanted my kids to have it, too. Being offered and realizing that this may be an opportunity for me to share my love of yoga with not only my own children, but with the children in my community, was such a blessing for me.
I love the energy it creates for me and my children. Yoga for kids is not just about the mental state of finding inner peace, relaxation, and calmness. All that is fantastic, of course, but did you know that it will also help with your child’s strength, flexibility and endurance to enhance the sports they participate in already? Or that kids who do yoga have a tendency to increase their attention span and focus, control their emotions better, and develop better listening skills? I love this article from Your Therapy Source that gives a basic outline of 10 Reasons Why Yoga is Beneficial for Children, if you want to read up on even more reasons to put your child in yoga.
Working with all ages over the summer proved to me that our younger generation is craving the benefits yoga can provide them. It could be for one of the reasons listed in the article, or for all 10, every child is different. Which is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about teaching kids’ yoga. Yoga is an individual sport- it is all about YOU. There is no competition or comparison of who does yoga better, it is all about letting you do you that day, and every day forward. Kids are often thrown into a chaotic world of education, music lessons, dance, sports, French lessons, play dates, travel…and don’t forget to throw into the mix iPads, computers, video games, and other electronic devices that distract from natural stimulation. I know this because I am the same with my own children- constantly trying to help them stay ahead of the game, ahead of the curve, ahead of or even just to keep up with, their own peers. One hour of yoga as often as they can fit it in during the week can do wonders for a child’s confidence and ability to tap into their inner-selves, give themselves a moment to discover what is right for them, who they want to be and how they want to go about doing it. It truly is a beautiful gift to give yourself and/or your child.
Fast forward again to Fall 2015, and I am now creating a program for kids who want and like to do yoga. RockStar Yogis is a program created by me, that yes, incorporates elements of my mainstay, RockStarMomLV. The RockStar Yogis philosophy uses yoga as a way to help children achieve personal balance through breath, mind and body. Practicing yoga is a wonderful way to introduce strength, flexibility and focus into your child’s everyday routine. Yoga is a form of exercise meant to develop inner calmness, set and achieve goals, practice mindfulness, and build self-confidence. These elements are achieved through the practice of breath, the art of meditation, and the challenge of Vinyasa style yoga poses and flows.
My classes are about sharing a practice with your children with the same vision I would want for my own kids to experience. Most RockStar Yogis classes are 50-minute sessions working around different themes. Popular classes have been Share Your Aloha, The Colors of My Energies, It’s All About the Breath and Balance It Out. I am also working on creating a meditation class for kids which will round out my goal of teaching kids how to balance body, breath and mind. Each class follows a similar curriculum: sharing circle to regroup from the day and ready our minds for practice, warm up and stretching, yoga flow, new poses, and savasana. Incorporated into each RockStar Yogi session is a demonstration of intention and self-thought through crafts, music, movement, and games. Keeping yoga playful and fun, while maintaining structure and authenticity of the practice, helps keep children engaged in the ultimate goal- to teach children how to take their yoga “off the mat” and into the real world. With the amount of stress and expectations put on our children through education, societal norms, media and technology, a 50-minute yoga break can surprisingly be all they need to help keep a healthy perspective for their minds and bodies. It is a practice of the whole body + mind.
“I promise they will feel the difference in their bodies, minds and souls and you will see the difference in your child. It’s a beautiful gift to give them. Imagine the potential of what and who they will grow to be with yoga in their lives at an early age.”
~ Stefanie Van Aken
Currently, the RockStar Yogis program is being offered as an after school enrichment program at Foothills Montessori School in Henderson.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my post. I hope to see you + your children on the mat!