By Usha Lakshmi, ERYT500, YACEP

As we begin a new year, I would like to tell you a story. However, unlike others, this one is about a journey in time. I can confidently say this applies to most of the hard work involved, behind the scenes at Pranakriya for every program it rolls out for the love of yoga, keeping it authentic and in compliance with the lineage of Swami Kripalu and our own beloved teacher Yoganand Michael Carroll.

Three and a half years ago we had a Pranakriya Directors retreat at my dear friend and fellow Pranakriya teacher (then also a PK board member) Denise Goodman’s place in LBI. At the time I was beginning my Director in Training program for the Bhagavad Gita with Yoganand.

While we were there, I met and conversed with Emily Gretz (now PK Board Chair) and told her of my interest in joining forces to create a Kids Yoga Teacher Training program. I told her that if Pranakriya was planning to create one, I would like to be in on it. When it comes to Pranakriya’s standards, the programs are above and beyond expectations. I was all in.

Not long after that Emily reached out to me about being part of the team that would collaborate to make it a reality. Already certified and with over a decade of experience in teaching kids’ yoga, Emily was to be our lead. We would have five modules in total to create, so we complied with Yoga Alliance’s standards and policies for a Kids Yoga Teacher Training program. Emily would be in charge of the three major modules for ages ranging from two to teen and a Practicum. William Hufschmidt was responsible for kids’ anatomy. I would team up with Amy Necci, an educator and kid’s yoga teacher, to create Making yoga philosophy accessible to kids. Our module also includes a big component on ethical scenarios for teaching children.

The most interesting bit in all this is the fact that we all lived hours away from each other and in three different states. This seems hard, but is not anything new for Pranakriya. We are used to tele conferences, interstate travel, and electronic communication. In hindsight, I would like to think we were unknowingly prepping for a virtual rollout during the pandemic.

Over the next year Amy and I had several conversations, email communications, meet-ups with each other and Emily. The next summer, Emily invited us over to Crofton Yoga in Maryland to observe her summer camp for different age groups; this gave us a better understanding of where we needed to go. PK Little Kids, the first in the 95hr program, ran in Crofton, MD in the summer of 2019. It was an eye opener for me, and the entire team attended the program to support Emily.

I have always wanted to officially certify to become a kid’s yoga teacher. Unofficially, I have taught several kids yoga classes and workshops, but I knew Pranakriya’s training would be unique. It has every facet of a kids’ yoga training covered andis, by itself, the whole package. In January 2020, Amy and I held our program in Crofton, MD.

Then the pandemic happened.

The two other programs scheduled for 2020 had to go virtual. Pranakriya was ready. There was no surprise there. I have to applaud our lead Emily, who ran PK Tween to Teens, the first virtual 300-hour program online… she aced it. This was back in April 2020, right after the lockdowns in March when everyone was still figuring out technology. The next program, Growing a Body, ran in August and I attended both the programs from the comfort of my own home.

I quickly realized that having taken all 4 modules, I only had the practicum left to officially certify. Although that doesn’t seem like much, there are a lot of pieces to the Practicum: observing classes, teaching classes, taking quizzes and tests, and working with ethical scenarios.

Teaching was the tough part, especially in a pandemic. I had so many questions:

Where was I going to find the kids?
How was I going to observe live classes?

Two of Pranakriya’s Host Studio owners, Kim Murphy of Crofton Yoga (Crofton, MD) and Carmen Champion of Main Street Yoga (Bloomington, IL) came to my rescue. They brought me (virtually!) groups in different age ranges. I taught online classes to little kids in Maryland and tweens to teens in Illinois. They were recorded so that Emily could observe and give me feedback on my Practicum submission.

The pandemic, although disastrous in so many ways, gave me time to do all this.

I observed live classes online and completed paperwork regarding my observation. I wrapped up the quizzes, answered questions for ethical scenarios, and then finally sent it all off to Emily. On the last day of November 2020, on my last day of journaling gratitude, I got her feedback and it was such wonderful news.

I am now officially Pranakriya-certified to teach yoga to kids! I will be registering with Yoga Alliance to become a 95 hour Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher (RCYT) this month. All this achieved from the comfort of my own home. As I end this tale, I can confidently say I now feel one hundred percent confident in teaching kids the challenge, the fun and beauty of practicing yoga and mindfulness.

How many yoga schools can boast about such a foolproof yoga program? There are not many out there – I have not seen one outside of the Indian ashrams. Pranakriya is one of the few schools with experienced yoga teachers with thousands of teaching hours in their back pocket. Yoganand, the founder and the pillar behind Pranakriya would expect nothing less.

Kids today need yoga and mindfulness practices more so than ever. This past decade, their anxiety levels have shot through the roof with the advent of digital immersions. 2020 just burst the bubble, and opened our eyes to the electronic world’s negative effects on our children. The pandemic has only increased the need for digital detox and awareness practices.

There are a ton of kids’ yoga programs out there, but that is why I want to draw your attention to make my recommendations heard. I might be biased since I am one of the team, but I believe Pranakriya offers one of the best kids yoga trainings. Isn’t it necessary to choose the most outstanding one when it comes to our children? This program will definitely give you the tools that help to guide and change habitual patterns when it comes to a child’s overall wellbeing. And since teaching kids to become happy, responsible and peaceful adults is a subject close to my heart, I am delighted to share this opportunity with you.

If you are thinking of doing a Kids Yoga Teacher Training, you should do it with us!

Now the sweetest part in all this? There is no time limit. You can do it at your own pace. You can do one module today, and the others next year. But if you wish to finish the certification fast, all of the parts are available to you this year, too. Each module is only 20 hours long. It starts after work on a Friday and ends on Sunday evening. In 2021, all kids’ trainings are virtual. So, you can do it from the comfort of your home. By the end of the year if you complete all the modules, you can be like me, a Pranakriya Kids Yoga Teacher too.

Making Yoga Philosophy Accessible to Kids is coming up January 15-17, 2021. There are no prerequisites for this program. This will give you 20 Continued Education credits (CEUs) with Yoga Alliance. You don’t even have to be a Yoga Teacher to do this. You can be a parent or an educator who wants to share awareness and mindfulness with children. Whether you want to teach kids or not, there is something about this program that will stay with you for the rest of your lives. There are nuggets that you can take away no matter what and apply in your own day today activities, and to adult yoga students in your classes too. If nothing else, the modules in this program will cater to your inner child and will teach you to face the world with curiosity and wonder. So, hop on the ride and join us for the first module in January 2021. You won’t regret it, I promise!

Usha Lakshmi
Yogabhyasa Kalari LLC