About nativeyoga

I love Ashtanga Yoga and co-direct Native Yoga Center in Juno Beach, Florida with my wife Tamara.

Sandy Chasen ~ Inspiring the Next Generation through Yoga

Sat, 11/6 6:52AM • 54:42

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

yoga, children, ladybug, teaching, kids, yoga teacher, class, camp, training, amazing, yoga class, poses, practice, feel, people, curious, teacher, instilling, nice, school

SPEAKERS

Todd McLaughlin, Sandy Chasen

Todd McLaughlin  

Welcome to Native yoga Toddcast. I am so happy you are here. My goal with this channel is to bring inspirational speakers to the mic in the field of yoga, massage, bodywork and beyond. Follow us on IG @nativeyoga and check us out at nativeyogacenter.com. All right, let’s begin. Hello, I’m happy you are here. Thanks for joining in. Today I have a special guest, Sandy Chason. She is the founder of Ladybug Yoga, which is a kid’s yoga program. She’s going to be offering a kid’s yoga teacher training here at Native Yoga Center on Sunday, January 30, 2022 from 12 to 6pm, Eastern Standard Time. We’re also going to be offering the teacher training via livestream. So for those of you that are local, you can come in and for those of you that are living abroad, you can join in via your computer and participate in the training and get certified in Ladybug Yoga. If you’re interested, visit our website nativeyogacenter.com. You’ll see the links where you can sign up. Also check out Sandy at her kids yoga teacher training website, which is called www.theladybugyoga.com. You can also find her on Instagram @Ladybugyoga, on Facebook @Ladybugyoga. All those links will be posted in the show notes below. I hope you enjoy this conversation. She got me really inspired and I can’t wait to take the training myself. I think that the more children get exposed to breathing, practicing yoga  and cultivate the ability to come out of their shell and have a safe space to be creative and express emotion, feelings and thoughts the world will be a happier place. I usually find that hanging out with children I end up feeling better because they impart a little bit of wisdom, selflessness, joy and good vibes. So anyhow I hope you enjoy this conversation. Let’s begin! I’m so pleased to have Sandy Chasen here with me today. Sandy, how are you doing? 

Sandy Chasen  

Good. Thank you for having me, Todd. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Oh, you’re welcome. I’m really excited to have this conversation with you because you are a kids yoga teacher. You offer kids yoga teacher training through your program Ladybug Yoga. But before we go into some of those details, can you give me an idea of how you first got interested in yoga yourself? 

Sandy Chasen  

Yes, definitely. So I’ll tell you a bit about me. I’m originally from South Africa. And as a young child, we moved to Canada and immigrated to Toronto. And my mom became very alternative and holistic and she was a yogi. And this is way back in the early 80s. And anytime I could go with her to get on a yoga mat to go to the yoga classes, I jumped and I just fell in love from the beginning.

Todd McLaughlin  

 Oh, that’s really cool. How old were you then? 

Sandy Chasen  

I was seven.

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice. You have a clear memory of your first yoga class with your mom?

Sandy Chasen  

I do. I do. Her teacher that we went to, his name was Axel Malone. He’s a real traditional yoga teacher guru. And it was just the whole experience every time. He was just amazing. I was in awe every time I could get there. 

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s awesome. Where was that? 

Sandy Chasen  

This was in Toronto. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Gotcha. Gotcha. At what age did you move from South Africa?

Sandy Chasen  

I was three three. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Do you have any memories of South Africa? I couldn’t tell you a memory from my threes.

Sandy Chasen  

No, either can I. But when I go back and visit there are the later year memories. So I still have family there. 

Todd McLaughlin  

And around the Cape Town area or the Johannesburg area? 

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Have you been?

Todd McLaughlin  

I’ve been to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, but I didn’t get a chance to go down to South Africa. I’ve always wanted to go to South Africa, because it’s like, a legendary surf destination. And so, yeah, I, you know, I’ve always wanted to go, I still want to go. But, I haven’t had the chance yet to make it down there.

Sandy Chasen  

Definitely on the bucket list. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Right? That’s cool.

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah. And you have to go on a safari.

Todd McLaughlin  

Oh, man, it’d be so great. I agree. And did you, after you started practicing yoga continue yoga throughout your teenage years and your 20s? Did you keep your yoga going? Or did was it like, come and go for you?

Sandy Chasen  

Um, no, I kept it going. It was come and go though. It was whenever, you know, I could go with my mom. And you know, I wasn’t busy. But it was steady. I just loved it!

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice. And then I guess fast forward at some point. I saw that you established Ladybug yoga in 2009. What was the journey to go from practicing yoga to wanting to create a program that was specific for children in yoga?

Sandy Chasen  

So also while I was growing up, I was a babysitter. I was a camp counselor. I was a gymnastics coach. So kids were always my passion. And back in Toronto, I took my early childhood education, and I practiced as an early childhood educator for a few years. And I really felt something was missing. So when I moved down to Florida, 20 years ago, right away, I said that’s it, I’m going to get certified in yoga. So I got on a plane and flew to Costa Rica and got my RYT there, and then came back and got certified in kids yoga. And I’ve been teaching adults and children ever since for the past 20 years. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice. 

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah. And then it was when my first daughter, Maya was born, the light bulb went off. And that was my aha moment when I combined the education and yoga together. And I created Ladybug yoga. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Wow. 

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah, so I made a children’s yoga program, and I teach practical tools to the children. And they just thrive off of it. It’s been amazing. 

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s really cool. I have a ton of questions, because I’m curious how you merged the educational aspects in terms of, you know, like you said, teaching in school, and with teaching kids yoga. What are some of the fundamental principles that you follow in  teaching children’s yoga and whast you have learned form your childhood education practice and study?

Sandy Chasen  

So basically, my creativity and program planning and the curriculum in every Ladybug yoga class…. we always begin with a breathing exercise, we go into yoga poses, then we go into games that incorporate the poses. We go into relaxation, and then close the class. So it’s a beautiful flow. And every aspect of yoga we do. The breathing is directed toward the kids ability level. So it’s always fun and exciting and presented in easy ways that they grasp it. It’s a very easy concept for them to use the poses and we have a blast with it, you know, and then the games, all our fun games, all incorporate the poses. So it teaches them all the tools and techniques in a fun way that relates to them. So they get it right away. They use it in the relaxation. We  take them on a journey. So it’s a guided relaxation. We use crystals, which the kids love, and it’s just beautiful, and they just love and thrive off of it. And we constantly, you know, discuss in class, you know that these are amazing life skill tools and that they’re not coming just for a dance class where it’s fun, and then they go their way. We are instilling these tools in them at this young age so they know when there are times when they’re feeling stressed at home, anxious, overwhelmed. When they’re fighting with siblings or when they have tests at school. They can use these tools to help them. They can incorporate these tools that we’re instilling in their mind during those times at home and at school and throughout their lives.

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice. Do you feel like as a yoga teacher you’re often reminding students, whether it’s children or adults, that what you’re learning here on the yoga mat, is something that you’re going to apply later on?

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah. Especially the breath, because we all forget to breathe.

Todd McLaughlin  

Good point. I hear that! So that’s cool that you still are actively teaching adult classes and children’s classes?

Sandy Chasen  

I do adult private classes and group privates, because adults, you know, I have a passion for that as well. And then, of course, the kids are a great passion as well for me. 

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s cool. Is there something that you use when you teach children that you find you also try to incorporate in with the adults that might not be your traditional thing that we do with adults?

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah, just to have fun. 🙂 Adults can get so serious.

Todd McLaughlin  

Like, do you actually incorporate some gameplay, so to speak in the adult class?

Sandy Chasen  

Definitely, you know, we laugh throughout and when I feel that tension I just get them to just release it and to go back to their child like sense.

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice. I noticed that you use teachable, which is a platform that you’re able to create digital content that people can learn what you’re teaching. Have you had good success and results with moving in that digital arena?

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah, it’s been amazing! And it’s given access to students all around the world. I’ve had students in India, like all over the world who have done my training online as well as which is wonderful. For those that do the in person teacher training, I offer the teachable at half price. So that they have lifetime access to go and refresh, it’s all live and they see it and they grasp it. So a lot of people after graduating, they can enjoy to get that to help them, to keep watching it over again. So they can become more confident in teaching.

Todd McLaughlin  

I really like your whole website and your online information and the way you lay it out. It feels like you’ve done a really great job. Is this something that you’ve had a lot of help with? Are you naturally gifted in marketing? Do you do your video production for your course yourself? Was that something that came really easy? Or is it something that you’ve been working at forever?

Sandy Chasen  

You know, I’m very creative, and it’s just so natural to me, that part. But the technical parts, no. I’m very hands on, you know, in everything. So online, I was sitting, you know, with the lady who did it, and we did it together, like step by step, even, you know, with my company, and when I have teachers go into the school and teach the yoga classes, you know, I connect with them before class. I connect with the teacher. I speak to them after class, I want to be involved, even though sometimes I’m not physically there. I want to know all the details and the outcomes and so I’m very hands on and for me naturally the creativity and the inspiration does come naturally.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s inspirational. You said that when your daughter, Maya was born. How old is she now?

Sandy Chasen  

So Maya’s 12 and almost a half. And I have a younger daughter, Jada, my baby who’s actually turning nine on Sunday. I taught the night before they were both, you know, both of them popped out. 🙂 So they were born natural Yogi’s as well. And they can even teach Ladybug yoga classes at this point. Nice. Yeah, so she’s a Halloween baby? Yes, she is. And actually, I have the most special story to share with you about my baby Jada, please, who in preschool. This was in pre K. She saw there was a child who was upset and you know, something was bothering her and the teachers couldn’t get her to come and join the class and to feel better. And Jada went over and sat with that child and told her did a three sigh breath with her. And the child just shifted, and Jada was the one to bring her back to a place of happiness and back with the class.

Todd McLaughlin  

Wow! That totally gives me chills because the thought of a child reaching out to a peer at that age with something to refocus the mind to, like you said to shift, and be able to be receptive to communication, or if they were shutting down and just really frustrated. That’s, that’s amazing. That’s like, kind of what we hope for, right!?!

Sandy Chasen  

It’s amazing with these children. They’re so open, you know, and receptive. They haven’t shut or closed yet. As the older you get you can get into your own way. So that’s why it’s special to instill yoga at such a young age.

Todd McLaughlin  

Wow, that’s really cool. Well, I mean, that actually feeds into my next question. So you might have already answered it, but what are some lessons that you’ve learned from teaching children? I find that when I branch out of my comfort zone, and I attempt to share yoga with someone who I thought it would be more challenging to do that with. I find instead of me teaching them something they teach me something. What is something that you’ve learned over the years with working with children?

Sandy Chasen  

So I find that what we’re doing is encouraging these children to build their self esteem and to let them shine as bright as they can. And there’s so many times in their lives, especially at a young age, you know, they’ve been told no, and no and no, and it can crush them. So we in our class, I find the most beautiful approach is we support them, of who they are as individuals and let them shine as bright as they can to just build them up. And by doing that, you just see them grow and shine, and it’s really beautiful.

Todd McLaughlin  

Wow. Yeah! So right there. That’s some inspiration right there. If you can see kids go from, like you said, shutting down and or shy and then turn around. That is pretty amazing.

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin  

Cool. You know, I guess, I’m thinking along the lines of there’s probably yoga teachers that are curious about teaching kids yoga. I remember the first time I thought, well, I teach yoga, so teaching kids yoga is just going to be a piece of cake. I can do it. And then we got a group together. And I quickly realized that I wished I’d had a few tricks up my sleeve. I definitely realized that making it more playful was going to be critical. But I also found that I probably could have benefited from from having a few creative ideas in place prior. What qualities or skills do you think a yoga teacher should have to be good at teaching children yoga?

Sandy Chasen  

So the ladybug yoga children’s teacher training that I created, I’ve opened it up to not only yoga teachers, but school teachers, therapists, parents, grandparents, nannies. So I’ve put together the most easy to adapt, and creative program. During the training and by the end of the training, people can see it’s so simple and practical and clear for them that anyone by the end of the training feels ready and inspired to go and impact the lives of children in whichever way, whether it’s doing a yoga class, going into the school and throughout the school day, teaching their kids, parents at home, therapist within their session. So yeah, it’s very inspiring, the program that I’ve put together and easy for anyone and everyone to adapt into it. Easy for them to get it.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, that makes sense. Because I would imagine that there’s a lot of parents and grandparents out there that actually practice yoga already. They haven’t pursued the career path of teaching yoga. But see that they’re around children and would want to share what they already know. So it makes perfect sense, that a grandparent would be excited to, learn tricks and tools to have another way to interact with either their children or grandchildren.

Sandy Chasen  

Yes, in a way that the kids can, you know, connect to and use. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, that’s amazing. I recently started to do a little research into what people are doing with yoga and elder care. Investigating what they are doing within senior facilities, or elder living facilities. One of the principles that became obvious was that if someone is having hard time with their their abilities either cognitive and/or physical. If they’re attempting to do something, and we’re attempting to show them something, and they aren’t doing it the way that we think they should be doing it, that they might begin to shut down. They will feel less inclined to open up in and express themselves through the postures or through the practice. One of the solutions to that problem given in the book Creative Care by Anne Basting, is an idea that is used in improvisational theater training. The idea is to always say yes, and add to what they say. For example if someone says, is this how I do it? You would affirm…. Yes, and you could also do it like this. It remids me of this saying, once a man is twice a child. We come in a baby, we take care of ourselves, and potentially, at the end, we’re gonna need to be taken care of again, the same way we were as a kid. I am now seeing that there probably are a lot of similarities between child care and elder care?

Sandy Chasen  

Yes, that is true. 

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s cool. What have you noticed with grandparents and working with children in terms of the yoga world and what have you observed?

Sandy Chasen  

Oh, they get so excited when they come to do the training. Because, you know, now they have something to connect with their grandkids to do as well as you know, enjoy. You know, the benefits of yoga, which they are involved in as Yogi’s. And they just can’t wait to go and share with their grandkids and when their grandkids come over, they have fun things to do. And it’s amazing. It’s a bond, a very special bonding moment, you know, like, I’ll never forget the bonding I have with my mom, you know, as together when we you know, as Yogi’s together, it’s very special.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s a good point. My mom got me into yoga as well.

Sandy Chasen  

Oh, amazing. At what age?

Todd McLaughlin  

I practiced when I was 19. But when I was in my early 20s she was practicing Hatha yoga, and she was taking a local yoga class. And she was like, you gotta come try this. And I was like, sure! That was it. I was hooked after the first session. 

Sandy Chasen  

Wow. That’s beautiful.

Todd McLaughlin  

My mom’s still practicing today. And I practiced with her this morning. 

Sandy Chasen  

That’s a special bond. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Yes. It’s amazing. I agree. I am curious… What have you noticed with the pandemic? In terms of, I know this is a big question, but we’ve had a little bit of time to kind of go through this whole thing and kind of start to come out the other side, and where we can reflect and look back. So I’m just curious, what what have you witnessed? Probably your kids were all in school and then had to go over to the virtual, I don’t know if you homeschool your kids already, or if they are in public school or private school, or if they went to the virtual but what did you observe in terms of like your own practice of teaching people to be with kids and be teaching yoga, but then being needing to be six feet apart and all that stuff that’s come with the pandemic? What’s happened for you?

Sandy Chasen  

Right? So it was an amazing experience. Because like I said, I’m always thinking creatively and you know, my mind’s always going and when everything shut down in March, then when they were talking about schools coming back online in August, I’m like okay, this is an opportunity for Ladybug yoga to get back on its feet because I’ve went from 60 to zero. It was scary.

Todd McLaughlin  

I agree, it was scary.

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah. And I actually created a pod. So I rented space at a hotel. And I hired school teacher. And I became a pod, which was where parents droppped the kids, you know, there were so many working parents that didn’t know what they were going to do with their children, when schools were going online, as well as the parents that felt overwhelmed, to be sitting with them at a computer all day long, you know, so parents would drop the kids early in the morning, and we would have them till the afternoon and the kids, you know, would come with their laptop. And with online, I had teachers helping them throughout their children’s online virtual school. And then we would go and do yoga. And we would do active activities, you know, because it was very hard on the kids. I mean, they were amazing. The way they adapted so quickly, to transitioning to sit online, it was very sad in a way because they were sitting from like, 8:45am in the morning, through 2pm on the computer. Which is so hard for children. So we incorporated the yoga, the breathing for them to move and to get their minds relaxed, you know, and energy release, and to be clear for them to continue on in the day. So we continued that for I think it was about six weeks until the schools went back in person. And then actually, Ladybug yoga transitioned into a camp. So yeah, so anytime there was no school, we would, you know, we would turn into a camp, which it actually then built into, because schools weren’t having us back on campus yet, because of COVID. And then it turned into a summer camp, which the kids just had a blast. And it’s just amazing. You know, every day they would do yoga, and I would incorporate different specialties like karate, art, dance, music drama, we would go swimming, and that was there for them. And then coming back into the fall this year, schools have welcomed us back into doing yoga classes on the premises. So we’re back doing you know, what we used to do, as well as I’m continuing with this amazing camp that I’ve, you know, developed that anytime like, Thanksgiving breaks coming up. So we’ll have camp for those days, you know, winter break will be camp and then go back into another summer camp. Ladybug yoga is just expanding. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Where do you have a facility and or brick and mortar location? Where were you holding the camp at?

Sandy Chasen  

So the camp we were at actually the Renaissance Hotel in Boca. But then that changed and we ended up with summer camp building all the way through till summer camp. But then, now that they’re back in full action, they were too busy to keep hosting us there. So I rent space at this Charter School in Boca Raton, which is wonderful because we have access to the host school. Were the only ones on the premises when I host the camp.

Todd McLaughlin  

Wonderful. I am curious…..which charter school are you with?

Sandy Chasen  

It’s called an Olympus Academy.

Todd McLaughlin  

Okay, I was just curious. That’s great. That way you don’t have to have the challenge of holding down like a five year lease on a place.

Sandy Chasen  

Exactly. And I’ve always you know, all the programs, the yoga classes, I’ve been in all the schools, all the facilities, I go in, you know, rent space there and then even the teacher training you know, I come to you guys. So I come for your whole community, you know, to come and share the Ladybug yoga tools with you guys. So it’s wonderful.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s really cool. I love the idea! I’ve always been thinking about you know how to create a camp like setting during the summer because as you’re familiar in South Florida, we have such a busy winter season because so many folks are in from out of town and then often in summer people are traveling, on vacation, the snowbirds go back up north. And you know, we kind of feel that like, Whoa, boy, it’s summer, how are we going to get through it? You know, and then, right, you’re thinking like, it’d be so cool to have a kids,  yoga camp in the summer. So I’m so excited to hear some of your ideas about how you’re doing it.  Yeah, it’s my pleasure to share. I liked the idea, too, that he said, It sounds like you mentioned that you would bring and then like specialists, like, whether it was martial arts or maybe yeah, dance or so you then kind of outsource to different skill sets to build the excitement of the experience?

Sandy Chasen  

Exactly. So every day they’ll do yoga. Every morning, we always start with yoga. And then yeah, in the afternoon, we’ll include a different specialists to come?

Todd McLaughlin  

How do you, if you have a child that is having a hard time adapting to what’s going on. Like maybe they get dropped off at camp? And there could be any number of different things that would make them either not want to be there? Or having a difficult time? Do you have a couple of skills or things that you do? That you help the childre to transition into the group? Like perhaps some are having a very difficult situation? Do you ever have children that just don’t want to be there?

Sandy Chasen  

I’m actually thinking back to summer camp, because, you know, a lot of the kids had such anxieties, because they were home confined for so long, that they weren’t around other kids, they weren’t out of their home environment that, you know, they have a lot of anxiety from it, coming back into adapting back into the community. So we did have a handful of children who had a lot of anxiety. And, you know, I don’t know if it’s just natural for me to just, you know, support them. And so they feel the love and care and support and that they can be safe. So, you know, they would stay close to me or close to another counselor of mine to just support them, and assist them until they are ready to, you know, leave the nest, just by saying, you know, to talk to other friends more and to start veering on their own around the camp. Yeah, it was actually a big percentage of children struggled with what they went through.

Todd McLaughlin  

Did you notice a shift in their receptivity relatively quickly? Like within a day or within a week? What were some of the observations you had?

Sandy Chasen  

I would say, each day, you would see them flourishing more, it would take I would say about three days, till they were like shining and felt comfortable. And feel like, oh my gosh, I’m a kid again. You know, like, this is great. Having fun and doing like things with other children.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah. That’s a good point, I remember my wife and I, well my son is 15 and my daughter’s eight, and when all this was going down, it was, you know, like, when we were in home, we were just like, let’s just try to create as positive environment as much as possible. Even though maybe her and I were stressing out because we were like, “what in the world is going on right now?” On so many levels, but then, you know, we are attempting to try to be solid for them and not have them freak out. But clearly, the parents are freaking out as well. And then obviously, children are feeding off of that. So I just think that’s amazing that you were prepared and ready for utilizing the skills of yoga when all this happened. Like it sounds like you really thought, “let’s think creatively, think outside the box, look for a solution to the problem.” And you really were able to utilize what you already know and love. So it’s like you were really ready for all of this.

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah. And then all the kids to that do yoga. Their consciousness is all about caring and sharing and being kind. You know, we, every class, we talk about positivity and how we treat others. And so it’s also amazing to see in action, the kids that already are comfortable and familiar with what we are doing and set the stage for he new kids that come on, you know, come into the camp or the program. They’re amazingly full of support and just so kind and caring to the children and provide whatever needs they may have.

Todd McLaughlin  

I hear you! That makes me think, what age range are you focusing on?

Sandy Chasen  

So we teach from three and up through elementary, so it’s preschool through elementary school to fifth grade.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s great. So that’s like ages three to ten. That sound right, three to 10? It makes sense that you would specialize into that particular age group. We had someone that was teaching Mommy and Me classes where you have infants coming in with the moms. Yeah, totally cool to watch. So cute, but then I start thinking about, like, from my teenager’s perspective. There is such a different approcah within each of these age groups. When I think of saying, “come on teenagers, let’s go do yoga,” like all of a sudden, something changed, where it’s like, yoga is not so cool. 🙂 Teenagers start to think, if my mom or dad or into yoga, I’m definitely not doing it. 🙂 Like no way.

Sandy Chasen  

Well do you want to know the secret with the older kids? You teach more of it, an adult class, like a cool class for them. But the secret is to always challenge them. The minute you challenge the older kids, they thrive off of that, like, they just love that. That’s what gets them. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Yep. Whereas with the 3 to 10 age group, how is that different? Are you not necessarily thinking how can I challenge them? What is your main focus when working with this age group?

Sandy Chasen  

Okay, so with the younger children, so I say preschool up to, you can get away with definitely first grade, sometimes second grade, you’re always painting a picture for them. So it’s all about the storytelling, painting the picture as you’re going through the Yoga, you know, whereas then from that point from third grade and up, it then starts, you’re still like painting the picture. But at the same time, you start challenging. So when they’re in a pose, instead of sharing a story or visualization, you’re telling them okay, hold for the count to 10, or hold for 20. At camp the kids loved it you know, throughout the six weeks of camp, with breathing, we continuously every week, got further and further holding our breath. Up to where at the end of camp at six weeks, I was counting to 100. Of course, I counted fast, but they didn’t realize it. You know, so they’d love that challenge. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Do you ever take apprentices? I mean, obviously, you got people working for you. But it’s something where this is purely selfish from my behalf, yet, could I try come down one day and actually see how you do what you do?

Sandy Chasen  

Yes, I would love for you to, you know, we had in the summer CIC’s, that volunteer, you know, and I’m always open to others who want to come and see it in action and help them be a part of this.

Todd McLaughlin  

Okay, that’s cool. That’d be great. I feel like I always learned so much when I actually get a chance to see a program that someone else is running, like in that environment, because it can be overwhelming. You know, when you first a new program, it’s like, what do I do? Where do I start?

Sandy Chasen  

Yes, I’d love you to come see it in action. And as well, that’s why I love on teachable, you know, that it’s online, and it’s all visual, it’s all there in person. It’s my girls are there with a bunch of other friends. You see it in action. So that also helps.

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice. When Tam and I lived in San Diego, and we had a yoga studio out there and we got involved in the Ashtanga yoga community and right before, I want to say this is in around about 2008-2009, someone had gotten together a really great yoga program where they were allowing yoga teachers to go into the public school system and start teaching yoga. And I guess at one point, some of the teachers were using, you know, down dog and up dog, Then there are poses that are called say Hanuman Asana, which is dedicated to Hanuman, who’s a character out of a story in India called the Ramayana. Therefore there were people that were of religious persuasion that had their buttons pushed  because schools are meant to be kept secular. They were fearing the children were being introduced to Hindu culture and/or different religious ideas. And so a lawsuit ensued, and it created a whole bunch of drama and made fairly big headlines. So my question is, how do you navigate the world of respecting different philosophies and/or religious ideas and teach yoga to children?

Sandy Chasen  

So that’s a great question. Because I make it very clear in the training, that we do not incorporate any religious teachings. We teach practical tools for everyday life. We do not chant, we do not, you know, we don’t Om, the music is instrumental, the only thing we will include is namaste, if we’re in a Jewish school or Catholic school that doesn’t even want that to be put in. Then we end by saying peace. And we never say put your hands together in prayer position, we always say put your hands together to your heart center. Yeah, so our program has no religious faith associated. Because, yes, dealing with children and parents. You know, they have been weary especially, you know, we’re going on so many years, where now yoga is becoming more mainstream. But in the beginning, it was still very like, oh, yeah, God, you know, yeah, my kid. No, thank you. But it, you know, that’s why I make it very clear in my training that we leave the religion out. And we’re teaching the basic practical tools for their everyday lives.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, I think that’s great. That makes perfect perfect sense. But I really like that you even brought attention to the languaging. Around, bring your hands together at heart center versus your hands into prayer position, because I’ve never really thought of that. But you’re right, that implies prayer, which could push a button. Yeah. Interesting. Any other things that you’ve noticed around that? I’m just curious? What else do we do in yoga that we assume is okay but maybe is not?

Sandy Chasen  

We have in our section, you will learn hand poses, which are mudras, that we only call them hand poses? You know, so yeah. So we leave out, you know, that aspect as well as all our poses are named after animals or things or, you know, we don’t use the sanskrit names at all.

Todd McLaughlin  

Gotcha. That’s really cool. In terms of, with children, and this is in the realm of alignment, and I know that alignment is just a great just topic of discussion alone. But for example, we have certain methods of yoga that are really interested in trying to set up good alignment for good reasons that will be healthy, and we won’t maybe try poses that are too advanced for us, like, we got to build a good foundation. And then there’s like really specific details like, you know, put your heels on the same line and turn this foot at this anglel. And when you reach your arm above your head, turn your palm this direction, and what role does alignment play in the process of teaching children yoga?

Sandy Chasen  

So that’s another great question. You’re asking all these amazing questions. I love that. Because I’m very particular as well with, you know, what is involved in my classes and with the kids class, you know, because we’re truly building their self esteem up. So they can shine and grow. We do not, you know, correct them. If they’re not perfectly aligned. If you see that there, they could injure themselves, how they’re doing the pose. Yeah, then we will jump in and correct them. Yeah. But however creatively, they’re doing the pose that we’re you know, all in, we just say what a great job they’re doing. We inspire them, we build their self esteem. So that’s when we, you know, we’ll jump in, if we see they can injure themselves. And, you know, in a class, you have all different levels. So you may have, you know, the gymnasts and the dancers, and then you have a child who can’t even get into a half lotus. So the teacher needs to be very aware of each child’s limitation. But we want to challenge them. So with the gymnasts and the dancers will get them to go into a full lotus at the same time a child who can even cross their legs with the knees down, we will get them to go in that cross leg where they’re comfortable, you know, and we will  tell both of them what a great job they’re doing at their level.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yes. Nice. That makes. Yeah, that makes sense. I was just visualizing the juggling act that is going on, in a sense, like you said, with the different range of ability levels are present.

Sandy Chasen  

It becomes more natural as you go on with your practice of teaching.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yes. Nice.

Sandy Chasen  

And it’s important that you’re challenging at each level so that kids can in one second, if they lose their attention, if you’re not continuously moving, flowing, challenging them making that exciting, you’ve lost them, and then that’s a recipe for disaster because then they misbehave and you know. So yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s like a beautiful flow of class. And it goes really fast. Because it’s so much fun.

Todd McLaughlin  

I bet. What are the typical durations of sessions that you’ll hold with kids say, from the 3 to 10 year group? Are you like a 15 minute class? 30 minute?

Sandy Chasen  

Throughout the training, you’ll see I’ve divided it into three groups. So preschool is 30 minutes. So the younger kids, their attention span is 30 minutes. In which that class goes by in a second. Then you have like, the elementary school age, I would say 45 minutes or an hour. You know, really, even though it’s an hour class, you’re only teaching about 45 minutes. By the time they take their shoes and socks off. And you you know, we always do an introductory icebreaker question. For the kids that are shy, you know, it’s beautiful, that they get to share. And that breaks the ice for class. Everyone’s on the same form together and go so those are the three categories 30, 45 or an hour.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, that makes that makes perfect sense. That’s really cool. When you’re working with kids, and you’re, you have all that going on at the same time. As far as being a trainer like you’re, you’re attempting to train other people how to do this? Is that hard or easy for you?

Sandy Chasen  

I love it. I thrive. You know. It’s just like the kids how it’s natural. You know, how inspired they get throughout a class. It’s the same with my training, like my students. They’re sponges and sucking it in and they’re so inspired and excited. And I love that. Kids are a passion of mine. That’s lots of fun.

Todd McLaughlin  

 I’m excited. You lead by example. Obviously you’re getting in there and saying, “this is how you do it.” Follow me.

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah, definitely. You guys become my kid. During the training.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s cool. You told me a really great story that was amazing with the way that Maya interacted with that child.

Sandy Chasen  

Oh Jada. Jada is my youngest. Maya is my oldest..

Todd McLaughlin  

Can you share any other really cute moments? Something that you’ve seen that just melted your heart?

Sandy Chasen  

Yeah, I love seeing, you know, the sigh breath is our go to breath. You do three sigh breaths. I’ve taught the girls, I’ve instilled it, no matter where you are, what’s going on? You know, you take those three breaths and everything shifts. And my girls. I mean, any time they’re sad, anxious or stressed. They’re, you know, just overwhelmed or they are fighting with each other. Or they’re tired or so cranky. They do their three breaths. And I’m telling you it’s instant. And they feel it and they’re like, ah, like, Yes, I feel better now. You know, and their minds more clear their bodies calmer and so that I love seeing. It never gets old and I think it’s so important.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s really cool. And you said that you’ve already watched your daughter’s teach a kids yoga class? They kind of grabbed the reigns and gone ahead with it.

Sandy Chasen  

It’s amazing! Yeah. And especially when they were younger, they used to set up their dolls and they would do a Ladybug yoga class for their dolls. And now it’s like they can teach the other kids and they’ve memorized the whole curriculum. They were there for the online training, they were my models in the manual, as well, as, you know, in the live version.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s really cool. I, you know, when, when my son was young, we took him to India with us, and he would come and practice alongside with us, yet it was early in the morning, so he probably was like, just wanting to sleep anyway. And so we’d bring a yoga mat, a little blanket, and he would just come in and sleep and crash out. We would bring some coloring books. He could relax or choose to practice yoga if he liked.There was a lot of cats and dogs that were, interestingly enough, just kind of mulling around, and when you would go into down dog and the cats would crawl up on you. And it was quite an interesting experience. I feel like, you know, he got fully immersed in that type of thing. It was really amazing. I might have more questions, but I know I have at least one more for you and it’s one that I get from parents often. And it’s it’s how can I inspire my child to practice yoga? They say “I really want my kid to do yoga.” What is some advice that you would give parents that are wanting their children to practice?

Sandy Chasen  

They should take the Ladybug yoga teacher training! They learn and then go home and bring it to their children. The training works because that’s their language training. You know, this curriculum is the kids language. And once they bring in the fun and excitement, you know it, they’ll be hooked in an instant.

Todd McLaughlin  

Awesome. Good answer. I personally am really excited to take the training with you. I can’t wait. I can’t wait for your visit. Is there anything you would like to close with? Any thoughts, feelings? Anything that comes to mind that you could share with us to help close our conversation today?

Sandy Chasen  

Well, I’m just excited to come and share, you know, this beautiful program with you guys to keep sharing it with and to the kids, because that’s been my dream of, you know, just inspiring every child around the world to teach them these tools to help them throughout their lives. So I really appreciate doing this today, as well as hosting me and, you know, getting my dream to become a reality.

Todd McLaughlin  

Awesome, Sandy. Well, I really appreciate you taking time. I was looking forward to this. Thank you so much.

Sandy Chasen  

I appreciate it.

Todd McLaughlin  

I’ll be seeing you soon.

Sandy Chasen  

Okay, sounds good.

Todd McLaughlin  

Take care.

Sandy Chasen  

Bye, Todd.

Todd McLaughlin  

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed our discussion today. Remember, if you would like to participate in the kids yoga teacher training with Sandy, with the Ladybug yoga program. Go ahead and visit our website nativeyogacenter.com. On the homepage, there’s a link at the bottom that you’ll easily find. And that’s about it my friends. If you have any questions, reach out to me info@nativeyogacenter.com Thanks again and talk to you see you soon.  Native Yoga Toddcast is produced by myself. The theme music is dreamed up by Bryce Allen. If you liked this show, let me know, if there’s room for improvement. I want to hear that too. We are curious to know what you think and what you want more of what I can improve. And if you have ideas for future guests or topics, please send us your thoughts to info@Nativeyogacenter.com. You can find us at nativeyogacenter.com. And hey, if you did like this episode, share it with your friends, rate it and review and join us next time!

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Freedom

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What is freedom? According to the dictionary freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. While this explanation can suffice there is so much more to freedom in my opinion.

Freedom is to exist with absence of fear. Freedom is not whether the body is confined to a small or large space but the ability to feel free from fear regardless. Freedom is a state of mind. We can be in the most majestic forrest devoid of all hindrance and distraction and still be worried about the sound of snapping branches from just behind an area we can’t see. Freedom comes from within. It is the careful and delicate cultivation of preservation while at the same time throwing all caution into the wind. Freedom comes at a price. The greatest sacrifice we can offer is the appreciation for another and the ability to give one’s freedom in the hopes that our future generations will experience more of it. 

Can freedom be enjoyed if we had to steal it? The answer is obviously no. The way forward seems to be that we need to try to give freedom to others instead of trying to get freedom for ourselves. The more we attempt to grasp at freedom the more it slips through our fingertips. The more we investigate freedom we find that it is elusive and mysterious and not as simple a subject as once thought. Fear has a way of bringing freedom to light. When looking for freedom it may be better to find fear first. Wherever fear resides is where freedom is busting down the door to embrace it. 

The process of going into our fears is where we are going to find our freedom. Seeking out freedom can be a very nerve shattering and earth quaking experience. Because it requires us to stand bold and stare directly into the perceived threat. The warrior on the edge of battle realizes that freedom is just on the other side of staying alive. This is why some charge forward and others run back. Who is to judge which is correct when we even have enough time to compare the two?

There is hardly any other topic worth considering. Now is the the most important time to offer our love and appreciation to our neighbors than ever before. Freedom isn’t just around the corner for some other day to explore. The opportunity to envelope it is right in front of us here and now. If I attempt to answer the question of what freedom is myself I come to this conclusion? The time I experienced the greatest sense of freedom was when I was at my lowest and someone offered me a hand. I feel the solution most important to focus on today is to just chill out and try to help others and to find freedom in offering simple acts of kindness wherever we can.

Check out our new podcast with Jade Skinner about Freedom and overcoming fear through yoga and paddling.

http://www.nativeyogacenter.com

Yoga, Song & Transformation

Yoga, Song & Transformation

Throughout life there are songs that we connect with. Each time we hear them it brings us to a place that recognizes the emotion we felt upon first hearing them. Song can transport us beyond our suffering to a place of peace. Although music may not take away the obstacles we face it can help pad the sometimes rough surfaces of the journey we walk upon. Yoga shares with song a similar attribute of being a tool to transport us into the challenges we face with courage instead of avoiding them with fear.

Many Rivers to Cross by Jimmy Cliff is one of those songs that has helped me smooth my troubles. I remember the first time I heard it, I was in high school experiencing some awkward growing pains. I so resonated with the Jamaican art and culture, and the power that emanated from Reggae music. I was moved by the sweet sounds that had a very deep message. The music gave a voice to those struggling with the challenges they faced.I felt that somehow, although my troubles may have looked different, that voice helped me face my own angst. I identified with the struggles felt in the words and tones expressed in an individual and universal level.

“Many rivers to cross

And it’s only my will that keeps me alive

I’ve been licked, washed up for years

And I merely survive because of my pride”

Yoga has had a similar effect on me as does song. While at one time I had hoped yoga practice could take me beyond my suffering to a place that was free from any troubles. I now realize yoga takes me into my troubles and creates a space that allows me to really see how my actions and beliefs create my reality. The solution lies in facing what is in front of me and navigating a course that acknowledges the past and is also willing to take a deep look at reality. 

“Many rivers to cross

But just where to begin, I’m playing for time

There are times I find myself 

Thinking of committing some dreadful crime”

Honesty is a powerful expression. It takes courage and guts to express one’s true feelings. This is where I feel yoga and song has a very deep connection. The very essence of what made me feel a connection upon hearing this was based in hearing the raw emotion of a man taken to the brink of despair and admitting that he was in a dark place. By being bold and voicing this feeling serves as the very tool for overcoming the feeling itself. Deep yoga practice involves addressing pain and turmoil by being strong enough to express personal truth even though it puts us in a place of vulnerability.

I believe we all have “Many Rivers to Cross.” The same way a song can give us strength and pull our emotions to the surface, yoga can serve as a vehicle to process these emotions and create a foundation of peace and acceptance. The journey of life requires the use of many tools to help direct our raw and intense emotion toward a positive place. I encourage you to be willing to go there. I spur you to practice yoga in a way that brings you some solace. I also rally you to sing the songs that hurt. The reason being being it can make you feel a whole lot better.

“Yes, I’ve got many rivers to cross

But I can’t seem to find my way over

Wandering I am lost

As I travel along the white cliffs of Dover”

*Many Rivers To Cross lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group by Jimmy Cliff

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Swim or Sink

Photo by David Scarola

Today is Tuesday, June 16th, 2020 and the beginning of week four since the reopening of Native Yoga Center. It was quite the experience to go from being really busy and having big plans on the horizon to stopping dead in our tracks and putting everything on hold. As you know! Yet the process of moving back again into the mechanics of an operating yoga studio is proving to more interesting than I anticipated.

When we shut down we immediately implemented the use of Livestream classes. In the beginning I kept all of our classes on our personal calendar with the the thought that we would just open up right where we left off. As the weeks and months continued to go by it became obvious that that was not going to happen. I swiped my whole calendar clean. That was monumental. We have been operating for the past 14 years on a schedule that slowly grew from 10 classes a week to over 30 classes a week. The process of clearing all of that out was nerve wracking and liberating. We had switched back to two class times a day, one at 10am and another at 4pm. We went back to the gold old days of just my wife and I running the entire show and never taking a day off together. Bitter sweet. Humbling. Refreshing. Challenging. These are just a few words to sum up the experience of tightening the belt.

Well along comes the day that the restrictions are lifted and we are allowed to reopen. I had this grand vision in my mind that every one would be so excited to come back in and get right back to practicing. That is not really the way it is going. We are currently running public classes limited to 9 in number so that everyone has 6 feet between them as per the guidelines. We are also filming the classes on zoom so people can join at home. We also record the class so that it can be accessed on our online site. The majority of our students are sticking with practicing on zoom. Slowly people are trickling in but when I say slowly, I mean sloooooowly.

I am truly beginning to realize that this is really going to be an endurance event. I really believe that as a small business this is going to push all of us, yoga studios, restaurants, salons and pretty much all service industry related professionals into a place where we are going to have to keep our heads up and just dig in really deep. I do believe that those of us that are passionate about what we do and have committed our lives to our craft are going to get through this. I do think though that it is way bigger than I originally understood.

I found a bit of solace today. I texted a friend who I often confide in and mentioned my beleaguered outlook and she said, “we need to pull up our spiritual boot straps.” Not exactly sure why that was the catalyst I needed but sometimes it is a simple perspective shift that can make all the difference. I think my expectations weren’t matching up with reality and this equation always dishes out a good bit of humble pie. My solution today is to reevaluate my assumptions. Maybe I need to realign what I think should happen and just accept it as it is. Pretty much the recipe that always in necessary when things don’t go as planned. So there we have it. Who knows how this is all going to go? Instead of thinking I do I am going to resign myself to admitting that I don’t.

My last good endurance challenge was a triathlon and at the beginning during the swim I looked up and saw how much further I had to go. I had thought the swim was going to be easy which I quickly surmised was just the opposite. In the flash of a moment I came to a conclusion. It’s time to swim because we all know what the alternative is.

5 Tips for Reemerging from Retreat

Meditation retreats can be an amazing way to gain an introspective experience and learn about one’s self. I have had the opportunity to participate in several 10 day silent meditation retreats in the past years. (https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index) Each time I have come to the end of a silent retreat I found the reemerging process to be interesting and at times, quite challenging. I am observing a lot of parallels and similarities to the “stay at home” orders that the majority of countries around the world are now experiencing and the participation of sitting in silent meditation retreats. I have come up with 5 tips that I have implemented in past retreat experiences that you can apply to this unique experience of getting back out “into the world.”

  1. Take as long as you need as well as take as long as you can. Often after coming out of a silent retreat we don’t feel ready to face the busyness of the “real” world. It is common to feel that we may need a little time to return to our normal routines. It can be a good idea to keep a lighter than normal schedule once resuming your normal work and domestic duties. If you don’t have any tasks to return to that can often be just as much as a problem as coming back to “too much.” Start off with a steady but lighter pace and slowly ramp back up to where you were before. If you need more structure or motivation to get things going now is the perfect time to pursue your goals.
  1. If you’re inclined toward introversion – try to come out a bit. If you are inclined toward extroversion – try to stay in a bit. Some of us gravitate toward solitude. We feel much happier being by ourselves and would prefer to not interact much in society. Others of us are very social and can hardly stand being alone. If you lean heavy toward one side or the other try to implement strategies for engaging the side of yourself that is deficient. Healthy social relationships take time to cultivate and are worth the work and effort. Learning to be comfortable alone and in solitude brings peace of mind and can strengthen our appreciation for simplicity. A way to help ease this amplification of opposites can be to exercise our deficiencies.
  1. Appreciate that no two experiences are the same. Everybody has a very personal and unique experience during a retreat. Some good and others bad. I have noticed that sometimes at the end of retreat people are very eager to talk about their experience and sometimes I feel like I need a little more time to process my own challenges before taking on other’s. It is okay to let someone know respectfully that you are not ready to join in the conversation it that is the case. I mention this because if someone had or is having a really tough time they may be seeking your council. Often we feel its our responsibility to want to try to fix other people’s problems through offering advice. Be aware of this and tread lightly. This can be one of the more challenging areas to navigate. Time will heal this and being supportive yet protective can ease this difficult transition.
  1. Respect the time it may take others to emerge. Sometimes at the end of a retreat we may want to be social but other’s around us do not. It is important to not take this personal. Some people take longer than others to process and it can be a good idea to allow them the time they need and be aware that just because we may be ready doesn’t mean they should or will.
  1. Go on retreat as often as you like and are able. When you feel the need to reconnect take another retreat. Something miraculous happens during retreats. In the beginning it seems like the most horrible thing a person can do to one’s self. It is often painful to be sitting in quiet for so many days in a row. The lack of stimulation causes all the neurosis of the mind to become very apparent. Yet, something switches and by the end of the retreat it is possible to feel as if a major transformation has occurred. Upon reentering the world we can often become distracted again. You can always take retreat as many times as you need to help the digestion and assimilation process of the techniques learned in meditation become a part of your day to day existence. The benefits of meditation can help achieve a balanced approach to being active in the world and help when observing silence.

Due to the pandemic we have witnessed a radical shift in our society. We have all had to take “retreat” for quite some time now. As we reemerge, for better or for worse, we will begin to rebuild our societal structure. Utilize these tips as if you were coming out of a meditation retreat and let’s see if we can support and give space for one and another in this unique time.

Listen to 5 Tips for Reemerging from Retreat on Native Yoga Toddcast here.

Visit Native Yoga Center website here to learn more about In Studio and Livestream classes here.