1. How did you get started doing yoga?
My mother started teaching me yoga when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Of course I thought she was the most beautiful and amazing woman that ever walked the planet so having this time with her really made feel aligned with her and maybe it sounds odd but almost like becoming an adult… it felt like very cool adult thing to do. Honestly, it’s probably one of my first ‘stand out’ memories in the beginnings of self care.
2. When did you get to BYH and how long have you practiced here?
I’m a interior designer and one of my design projects was the first Buddhist temple in Baltimore located on Northern parkway. While I was working on this project I attended a couple of their many auction fundraisers in which I won a free “30 days of Bikram” here in Hampden… funny thing is the 30 day pass was bought and donated by my then acquaintance but now best friend, Elizabeth Jones.That was about 5 – 6 years ago. For about 3 – 4 years I’ve been attending 6 days per week. This past summer I got into mountain biking so I haven’t been obsessively attending per usual but with winter approaching you’ll find me back in the room almost daily.
3. What motivated you to talk a teacher training and then to focus on kids’ yoga?
The temple project was one of my biggest in terms of time spent and of course having the opportunity to build something truly meaningful for Baltimore. I made close connections with the Buddhist community and with one monk in particular who is now one of my closest and dearest friends, Kelsang Menla. He encouraged me to pursue the teacher training program for meditation. So I did… I attended meditation classes learning from the monks and nuns about Buddhist philosophy and how to meditate. I then converted the teachings I received into a dialogue and class I thought children would enjoy. I taught meditation to children under the monks and nuns for 3 years. I’m pursuing my Master’s degree in psychology with the hopes to eventually marry my skills of art, meditation and therapy as a children’s art therapist.
4. What do the kids you teach learn in your class? How and why is it beneficial for children?
At BYH we keep religion out of the teachings but manage to teach children the basic philosophy of how to calm the mind. It’s important to note that my specialty is in meditation. The class that we’re providing for the kids is not only yoga but we meditate and then have what I refer to as an “art reflective” at the end of class. The class is 90 minutes long with:
– 30 min YOGA
– 30 min MEDITATION
– 30 min ART REFLECTIVE
– 30 min ART REFLECTIVE
Of course I have plenty of yoga experience to share with the children but the class we teach on Sundays is mostly about getting them started a young age to think about self care, the philosophy of the “golden rule”, and healthy outlets such as the physical activity, meditation and art projects they complete in class.
4. What would you like other parents to know?
I know that as parents and adults we believe it’s our job to always be the teacher and lead our children but the truth is kids are often amazing teachers. We live in a world in which we move from one thing to the next so quickly that we often find it difficult to communicate and connect with one another. This is the world our children are growing up in… we feel the pressure and so do they. I welcome parents to come sit in class with their children so they can not only see the opportunity in learning for their children but also experience their children bringing these lessons home and having an affect on the family unit as a whole.
We now have regular students that attend weekly, bi-weekly and monthly. A mother of one of my weekly students wasn’t able to bring her child two weeks in a row. She then showed up and explained they had some family issues that kept them away for the last few weeks but she woke up that morning feeling as though not only did the kids need to come into class but so did she. For that morning she simply hung out in the corner of the classroom receiving the same teachings the kids received. When me and Sarah discussed starting this class we decided we want to create a tighter knit community… I can’t even express the joy it brings to me knowing I’m helping to provide a space that both the children and parents feel free to retreat and reenergize in.
Thank you for sharing what we’re doing for the children. I also want to thank Elizabeth English (she’s so passionate about this program that it’s inspiring), and my mother who helped shape the yoga portion of the class with her yoga teacher training experience, Pat Brannigan.