Monkey Mind Belly Breath
Joanie has been practicing yoga (Hatha, Kundalini and meditation) since 1970. In 2007 she began practicing and became certified in “Laughter Yoga”. She is also the author and illustrator of the award winning book “Seven Little Monkey’s”. Read our interview with Joanie and join us at the National Kids Yoga Conference in September to hear more from her!
How long have you been teaching kids yoga? What inspired you to get started?
I was first introduced to yoga thru an article in “Seventeen Magazine”. The positive effects I felt inspired me to teach yoga to teens in 1973.
What does a typical day look like?
I get up and first do my own yoga practice. I teach a variety of group or private classes from preschool age up to seniors. We are neither too young or old to breath, stretch and LOL.
What are the specific ways you think yoga can be helpful for kids?
I feel it is important for kids to know they are not just their thoughts, alone in their own heads. We all have “monkey mind”. By engaging kids in a practice of breath, laughter, movement (poses), and focus, they experience the benefits of relaxation, strength and connection. In other words Union – Yoga – Peace.
Tell us about that one pivotal experience—the student, class or moment—that keeps you going even when your work gets challenging.
One of my many pivotal experiences in regards to kids yoga was when my nephew Charlie came home from school with a drawing he had done. Explaining to his mom and I “this is what the voices in my head are saying”. I responded ” In yoga we call this ” Monkey Mind “. And so became the inspiration for my book “Seven Little Monkey’s” and teaching this concept to kids.
Who or what inspires you the most in your work?
Children, animals, nature and art are where I draw a lot of inspiration from.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
When I see a face or body that has a transformational experience of peace, joy and contentment from their own practice, this is immensely gratifying.
What brings you the deepest joy in your own yoga practice and in sharing yoga with kids?
Thru a simple and playful practice (even faking it till I make it) I begin to have an experience in which I become the practice. Then sharing this knowledge to kids is pure Joy!
What is your favorite yoga pose?
Do I have to choose a favorite pose ? I guess it would be “Laughing Monkey in a tree pose”. I find a simple deep belly breath brings kids into the “present moment” like a charm. In the “Art of Laughing Yoga” we usually include the clapping, stomping mantra “Very Good, Very Good… Yeah !”. I feel by focusing on a simple deep belly breath in any pose, is extremely beneficial.
Describe your vision for the future of kids yoga.
My future vision is here… KYC ! I have benefited from yoga since age 13. Since then I have felt it belongs in kids lives early at home and in school. So Thank You “Kids Yoga Conference for creating, energizing and leading” all of us with a similar dream into a practice to share this vision into a way of life for All our kids around the world.
Joanie Woodward will be presenting at the National Kids Yoga Conference in Washington, DC. Click here to register for this amazing event.