Durgaya Palmieri, Tough Love Yoga teacher recently took the Grounded Kids Yoga training at Ember Yoga in Woodstock. So thrilled by the program, she offered to write up a short review and recount of her experience for Atlanta Yoga Scene!
By Durgaya Palmieri
I love kids but let’s face it, they’re intimidating! They know everything, they are the center of the universe, and they have boundless energy. But even so, I wanted to learn how to teach yoga to them.
Last week I was lucky enough to take a yoga teacher training program created by Cheryl Crawford, Amy Haysman and Tiffany Morgan, called Grounded Kids: yoga. laughter. elevation. The program is set up to instruct yoga teachers on how to teach yoga to kids. The great thing is that the kids learn so much more than basic yoga poses. They also learn intricate yogic philosophy through creative themes and subtle jokes.
On the first day, my fellow trainees and I watched Cheryl teach a Grounded class to kids ranging in age 5-11. I knew that at the end of the week we would have to teach a class to this same age group, but after watching Cheryl gracefully, confidently teach the kids yoga, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I thought “if I can do that in four days then I should go buy a lotto ticket” because it would be a miracle.
I had no idea how the Grounded Kids crew would show us how to teach yoga to kids, but in the end the answer was so simple; The Wizard of Oz. Through characters in this timeless story, they showed us how to teach complicated yoga alignment, inspired by Anusara Yoga Principles. Think of the Tin Man needing a heart. Using that metaphor, we taught the Grounded students about freedom in their joints and living with an open heart–using the inner spiral.
The poses in the Grounded approach are designed to appeal to the kids. As parents or caregivers, we often have to tell children to go to their room or go to time out, and we even try to tell them why. “Go to your room, because you hit your sister.” It’s a rare occurrence, however, that we tell the kids how to cope with and process their experience. In the Grounded Yoga program, we learned how to fill this gap. For instance, there is a pose called go to your room. It involves a forward fold where the kids stomp to the back of their mat, stomp to the front of the mat then come into chair pose and act out slamming their door with a loud, stress releasing “huuuh”. It puts something positive (the pose), with something negative (being sent to your room) and helps the kids deal with the world they live in.
On the final day, it was apparent that we were all nervous to teach the kids. As an adult being silly on command is hard! However, after spending four days learning about the program, we all believed in the power of Grounded yoga and were excited to share it. So, as we instructed the kids to drink silly potion, to wash away their worries like a washing machine, we all laughed and ended up having a great time!
Let’s face it, while kids are intimidating, they give the best hugs, they paint the prettiest pictures and tell the funniest jokes. If yoga can bring more joy and balance into their lives, like it had my own, than I want to be a part of it. As adults and yoga instructors, the Grounded program offers an enlightened way to talk to kids and teach them about real world issues through movement and play. I honor the ladies of Grounded and the parents who bring their kids to this program. I also want to send a special thanks to Jeff and Margaret Sousa of Ember Hot Yoga for hosting this training in such a beautiful studio.