Today I went to teach my evening kids’ class, but unfortunately, I only had one little yogi in attendance. Luckily, any Kidding Around Yoga class, no matter how big or how small, can produce magic, which is exactly what happened tonight! Maya is the beautiful 4-year-old daughter of my friend and yoga teacher and has been my most consistent student for two years. She is always in class (it helps when mom owns the studio), talks about yoga at home, and plans her busy preschool life around her yoga class. It is an absolute honor to be this little girl’s yoga teacher, and today she made me especially proud.
One of the great things about the studio where I teach, in addition to being a warm and welcoming environment, is that there are two separate classrooms so we can have a kids class at the same time as the adult class and provide opportunities for the whole family to get their yoga on. The women who own the studio are strong, independent, ambitious, and compassionate. I received my 200 Hour Teacher Training with them, appreciate their support of our KAY program, and have become a better person after meeting them. Spring Hill, Florida is not exactly a buzzing yoga community, but these women have provided us like-minded souls with a place to gather, do yoga, and connect with one another. Many friendships have been made with that studio as a foundation. It has the feeling of taking a village to raise a child and to become a participant in change, not an observer of it. Tonight was no exception.
We were greeting women as they arrived ready for their salvation, their stress relief, and their self-preservation time. Light-hearted comments regarding the length of the day, the inquiries as to when Friday was, and the thanks given for “yoga time” were made in passing. The discussion began as a bit of a joke, but ended up that we were going to help start the adult class with a little bit of Kidding Around! It looked like Maya would be teaching her very first yoga class! Wouldn’t her mother be proud?!
We started with our usual opening circle for a kids’ class with Maya teaching the meditation with the correct finger movements and leading us in the words just like a pro. As I peeked out from closed eyelids, I could see stress simply melt off the women’s faces. The sound of a child leading this mediation was soothing, comforting, and absolutely adorable. Maya’s favorite song is Crazy Monkey, so of course, we had to explain what Koo-Koo Head was. She was able to accurately explain that our mind is like a crazy monkey stung by a scorpion. It was a very proud “teacher moment” as I looked at this room of adults focused on a small child relaying new information, and the vibe in the room told me this was something special these women had never seen before.
Of course, we won them over (and wore them out!) with The Yoga Slide, and treated them to a short trip to the Secret Garden. Maya led us in our closing chant and ending wish and our mini-sample class for kids (taught to adults) had ended. After that, I answered a few questions of theirs, accepted compliments on Maya on her mother’s behalf, and we wished them a lovely practice. Maya and I continued our own yoga class in the next room while the ladies went on with their Hatha class.
At the end of both classes, the women were still talking about this magic they had seen and were, I think, touched by the experience of being taught by a child. It does demonstrate that providing kids with not only the knowledge but also the music, dances, and the silliness, will make a profound impact on what they retain. Speaking as a public school educator, I know that building a child’s schema, or background knowledge is only going to help them become fluent readers and increase reading comprehension. Even more than that, we are providing kids with the tools to receive, retain, and explain life skills that most of us are still working on as fully-grown adults. Kidding Around Yoga is able to serve as a catalyst of change, a movement in child education, and allows opportunities for growth and expansion. As William Glasser says, “We learn 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss, 80% of what we experience, and 95% of what we teach others.” At Kidding Around Yoga, we are doing much more than barking in Downward Dog. We are changing the world, one peaceful child at a time.