Sure, I love yoga for dudes, but imagine how many dudes (and women) would be practicing yoga if we had more yoga for kids programs? Elizabeth Reese of Yogiños is trying to spread yoga to kids around the country, blending language, art, and meditation.
Elizabeth talked to us about her inspiration for Yogiños, how yoga has helped her daughter, and even shares some great tips for children on the mat.
How/why did you come up with the concept of Yogiños?
Honestly, at first, it was a tiny whisper from the wind that I treated more like a fly buzzing in my ear. I swatted it away. Teach yoga to children? It seemed like such a detour from what I had been doing. Then the whisper became more of a shout that I couldn't ignore, and Yogiños: Yoga for Youth® was birthed. With a little hindsight, I see now that the path that I'm on with Yogiños is a synthesis of so many aspects of my background, and it has become an incredible way for me to share my passions for yoga, art, education, language, and wellness.
When the idea for Yogiños began forming in my head, I was a visiting instructor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and also the visual arts columnist for our newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller Times. My educational background is in art museum education, and much of my research, writing, and teaching has focused on creating educational programs for art museums and helping museums bring art to youth in relevant and inspiring ways, including using art as a catalyst to inspire meaningful personal and cultural awareness and social interaction.
Like many other parents and educators, I have been dismayed by cuts in arts education and physical education. As I experienced the effects of these cuts with my own children, I became passionate about doing whatever I can to bring art and movement to children. Yogiños is a result of this passion.
I describe Yogiños as a trilingual, interdisciplinary yoga for kids program teaching strength, flexibility, balance, nutrition, respect for and awareness of self, others and the environment both on and off the yoga mat. Classes are facilitated in English, Spanish, and Sanskrit, and they weave in original art, music, games, stories, collaboration and sensory-integrated activities to align bodies, hearts, and minds. I have been fortunate to have many incredible people join me early in shaping Yogiños including Meredith Blanks Paterson, Director of Yoga Trainings and the Austin area.
People began asking how they could bring Yogiños so now we have classes in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Park City, Utah, and Baltimore, Maryland. We conduct trainings in several cities throughout the year, and we also conduct workshops for classroom teachers, school administrators, museum staffs, and other groups interested in integrating tools of yoga and meditation into their curriculum and into their interactions with children. (Dates and locations of our trainings are posted on our website, yoginos.com.)
In late 2009, I reconnected with a childhood friend, Sean Madaras, who is now a producer in LA, and he put together an incredibly talented film crew to make our first DVD, The Story of Ganesha. The DVD centers around the ancient tale of the little boy who becomes the elephant-headed prince. We filmed the first DVD in the Art Museum of South Texas, and we used original works of art from the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas as well as an original musical score throughout the film. The DVD includes individual and partner yoga poses, cardiovascular and relaxation exercises, and elements of all 8 limbs of yoga. Each child is empowered to experience yoga through art, culture, collaboration, and narrative.