Kidding Around Yoga instructor, Kelly Winkler, a Mompreneur from the West Essex area of NJ, and mother of 4, has always had an affinity for working with children. In fact, she began her career as a child life specialist at a local hospital and then worked as a teacher, before taking a break from her career to raise her family.

It was during this time that she began noticing a common thread among her children, their friends and peers – many were dealing with anxiety, ADHD and social and emotional issues.

While some of these issues were certainly on par for some of what many tweens and teens face during these angst-ridden years, she felt the additions of overscheduling, social media, bullying and more to the mix was adding to the pressure they were feeling.

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“Often, kids don’t know how to take a step away and look at things from a different perspective,” says Kelly.

When Kelly’s daughter was 12, she took a yoga class and Kelly began noticing a change in her daughter. She was more relaxed and confident.

This gave Kelly the impetus to become a certified yoga instructor through a company she had found called, Kidding Around Yoga.

“I really liked the philosophy of the company,” she says. “They, like me, are passionate about getting the life skills that can be gained through yoga, meditation, and mindfulness – to kids.”

She began reaching out to schools to offer sessions.

“It was a perfect time to bring my program into the school systems,” she adds. “Many schools are really starting to incorporate mindfulness into their curriculums. My classes help to reinforce the messages.”

 

She adds, “A lot of teachers are super interested in helping to bring yoga and meditation into the classroom to help with behavior management and concentration. Many transfer the information gained from sessions with me into classroom instruction.”

Kelly says she enjoys working with children in pre-school, elementary school and older. She also loves working with girl scouts and boy scouts, who can receive badges for yoga and mindfulness activities, as well as with families, private clients and children with special needs. She also offers birthday parties and camp sessions.

The Kidding Around Yoga approach to working with kids is novel and some children don’t even realize they are practicing all aspects of yoga – they are just having fun.

“Many people think that kids can’t meditate or are too young to practice yoga,” says Kelly. “This couldn’t be further from the truth!”

She starts out her classes by asking how many times a week they think people should meditate. She is then met with many giggles when she tells participants they should only meditate on days they brush their teeth.

“I explain that when we are meditating, we are cleansing our brains or quieting the thoughts to calm down and focus better,” says Kelly. “I encourage students to go home and meditate for a few minutes every day and to create meditation stations, where they feel comfortable and safe to practice.”

She says she meets kids on their level. She plays fun music, and games with the children, who are learning relaxation and other skills while they “play.”

Every Kidding Around Yoga class offers a complete age-appropriate Yoga practice including breathing instruction, relaxation techniques, stretching and strengthening poses, all using fun-filled music, games, and imagination.

“The secret is our playfulness, keeping children motivated, excited, and moving,” she says. “This is not your typical Yoga class. My classes get children singing, dancing, skipping, marching, jogging, shaking, laughing, hopping, limbo-ing, and storytelling – ALL while practicing Yoga.”

“They get excited to participate,” she adds. “Many don’t even realize they are learning these life skills.”

“It is so rewarding to see the kids take to the sessions,” adds Kelly. “I get emails and pictures sent to me from children and their parents saying they are practicing yoga and meditation at home. I love that the lessons are getting through to them and that they are liking the mindfulness activities enough to bring them home.”

Many of the kids say they have set up meditation stations at home and use a battery-operated candle or a pompom to focus. They have told Kelly that using these items and the tools she has given to them helps when they are feeling sad, mad, anxious or other ways that make them feel uncomfortable.

She says that the kids are using the skills to self-regulate, control emotions, calm down and take a breath before reacting. This allows them to make rational decisions and change their behavior.

“It is very important to me that the kids I work with gain self-confidence, strength, and the power to create their own inner peace,” she adds.

Kelly says that kids practicing yoga is becoming more popular than ever these days. In fact, there are over 5000 instructors certified through Kidding Around Yoga alone. Kelly not only brings her programs to schools and families; she is also a trainer for Kidding Around Yoga. She offers training for individuals to become certified children’s yoga instructors.

Below are links to her next two Kidding Around Yoga Teacher Training (click on links for details and registration):

Kelly also offers a professional development program, EduKay, to schools that are looking to train their teachers to incorporate yoga and mindfulness in their classrooms. For more information on EduKay follow this link.

In addition, Kelly will be running a special camp session this August. She is also available for sessions at preschools, elementary schools, and middle schools. To sign up, or for more information, please visit her website, send her an email at kellywinkler@kiddingaroundyoga.com, or call her at 973-800-6395.