A Reflection on The Brooklyn Book Festival Kids Day Yoga Class
I Finally Premiered My Book!
Yesterday I had the honor of leading a children’s yoga class to kick off the annual Brooklyn Book Festival Children’s day. The class was the first event for My Yoga Workbook: A Winter Yoga Journey, my 2016 book release. There was a group of 40-50 children and parents. The children ranged from age 2-11. I was teaching child-friendly yoga and meditation from my book. The crowd participated and was captivated. What a joy. What a joy!
Learning in Different Ways Is NOT a Failure
I saw children participating. Moving without fear of mockery. My husband reflected on it saying how free they looked. They didn’t seem self-conscious at all. As a juxtaposition he noticed the parents walking about the festival. He pointed out that the parents were rushing, stressed, and facing the all too real financial constraints of life, having to say no the children’s many (many many many) requests for them to buy books.
The children did remarkably well. Some participated by doing every pose. Others were taking it in in their own way. By listening and repeating back the mantras, and sitting in the front row, one child really stood out. She didn’t do the poses. But she was clearly taking a lot from the class.
Her mother came to talk to me where I was signing books after class. She caught me off guard when she apologized for her child not doing a good job. “She didn’t even do many poses.” I could feel this mom’s anxiety at the disappointment or failure she seemed to be feeling. From my interpretation, her daughter didn’t participate in what she perceives to be the right way. The right way to her was to do every pose. This mom had trouble perceiving the value in her daughter just taking in the experience through her eyes and ears, embodying the lessons through her young and eager voice. I saw the child as empowered and connected to everything happening in really important ways. At worst her mom saw it as an act of defiance and at best, a slight failure that was rude towards me.
We all know the feeling of trying to get to ace the test. Maybe that’s was what the mom was experiencing, and projecting onto her child. Perhaps she thought, consciously or not, that her daughter should demonstrate that she could do the poses.
We have a cultural issue in the United States and especially in Brooklyn where we value doing and accomplishing at the expense of enjoying and being. Parenting is hard and even the best-intentioned moms, me included, want our children to achieve high and often. Her daughter had been content during yoga, proclaiming said she felt “calm, peaceful, and relaxed.” Why wasn’t that enough?
Her child was able to completely be in the experience of peace and slowing down. She felt and looked relaxed. She repeated (screamed actually) the positive affirmations known as a mantra. Her confidence soared while she was enjoying every minute. The overwhelming positivity of her experience could have been immediately undermined, and her new-found confidence called into question by her mother’s well-intentioned apology.
What Do Parents Value?
My husband wondered if a typical parent could relate to or understand the value the children are taking from these quiet moments of focus, hard work, and relaxation. With the need to constantly do more and better, are any of us able to see the value in something that has a qualitative rather than a quantitative measure? The feeling of being calm may not be valued as is receiving and all A report card.
Commit your family to yoga at home
We commit to school and academic rigor. We commit to sports. We commit to getting annual physicals for our kids. Somehow we aren’t committing to and seeing the value of getting our kids into a life-long wellness practice. It’s time to commit to ourselves and our children a life of balance, of modeling good practices, and of slowing down. Commit to allowing them to connect to life in the ways that work for them. To learn in ways that are authentically theirs. To be able to do so because of a great deal of self-awareness, confidence, and peace.
You probably already know this. You intuit how important it is for all of us to release stress, fear, and self-consciousness. Yoga is a tool for all of that. And guess what? Our kids are living in a time where smartphones are as NORMAL and as ubiquitous as pants. That means they are carrying stress and immediacy around in their pockets starting at on average 6th grade! Yoga is the antidote to this new normalcy.
We need to commit ourselves to modeling, teaching, and making these practices accessible at home every day.
My Yoga Workbook and all the other parent-friendly kid's yoga products in our shop are inexpensive simple tools parents can put in their children’s hands to instill these lessons. Parents and children can participate together. Families can become balanced over and over with the activities found inside. We know balance as a constant recalibration day to day of figuring out how much we need. My Yoga Workbook offer s up a variety of activities to help meet your needs. It includes a 5 pose yoga sequence, breathing activities, short story, healthy habits journal, coloring, focus, and relaxation activities to do just that. Commit to yoga and lifelong healthy habits today!