Michael Franti, Jack Johnson and “Singin’ in the Rain” play in the background as kids run to set up their mats for the next 45 minutes with instructor Blythe Brown. Eight girls and two boys sit in a circle. Some of them know each other, and some are brand new to the class.
“Does anyone know what this is?” Brown asks.
“A bowl!” one answers.
“Yes, this is a crystal singing bowl,” Brown replies. “Everyone stand in a line, and as you pass by the singing bowl, put your hand on it to feel the vibration.” They sit down on their sticky mats, a little quieter and ready for class to begin. “Now put your hand on your own throat and make a mmmm sound,” Brown continues. “You see? You have a sound vibration too. We use Om, or the singing bowl, to help everyone connect to the same vibration. We can connect on a vibrational level.”
The kids look at the instructor, smiling and ready for the next activity. “Let’s loosen up with the thunderstorm,” Brown says. They go around the circle, each following the person next to them, mimicking the sounds: stomping feet, clapping hands, snapping fingers, clicking tongues.
“I get so much out of teaching yoga to kids,” says Brown. She structures her class around playing with the energy that the kids bring with them. She encourages and teaches positive thinking to her students. “How are they going to feel better?” Brown reflects. “It is such a service to teach them what mountain pose or prana is. From a young age they are learning body and breath awareness.”
Brown also teaches partner and acro yoga for adults at Asheville Community Yoga with fellow instructor, Maeve Hendrix. A recent transplant from Boone. Brown is also an art educator — and she sees the two jobs as intertwined.
“I did my yoga teacher training after college, and kids and prenatal training afterward, though I wasn’t sure if I would use it or not,” says Hendrix about her yoga-teaching journey. “It is about being spontaneous. Teaching yoga to kids is just one more step towards developing a fun atmosphere in class.”
Brown teaches a variety of methods in her kids’ yoga classes at Asheville Community Yoga. Sometimes, she says, there are a lot of poses. Sometimes, the class is more about games for balancing and coordination.
“One of the most important poses for the kids is Savasana,” she says. “It teaches them what the breath does to them in their bodies. They can be in any situation, and they can hit the reset button [through breath]. I lead them through a visualization meditation, like going to the beach, or lying in the sun.”
The kids can inspire her for creativity as well. When asking where the kids feel safe and happy, one boy replied, “The movie theatre.”
Says Brown, “We also like to talk about our dreams and inspire creativity.”
After the class ends, a girl runs up to Brown and embraces her. They both smile. “The hugs afterward are so meaningful and make me so happy,” Brown says.
Brown teaches Yoga For Kids, Mondays and Wednesdays, 4 p.m.-4:45 p.m.at Asheville Community Yoga. She also teaches the following workshops:
“Around the World Week” at Cullowhee Mountain Arts
for ages 5-8, 9 a.m.-noon, June 17-21.
“Reflecting through the Journey”: Yoga & Travel Journaling
in the Andes of Ecuador, July 11-19 (for adults)
More information and details at www.blythebrownart.com.
Kate Lundquist is a yoga instructor and freelance writer living in Asheville, North Carolina. Her website is www.facebook.com/katelundquistyogaandwriting