We can’t deny that yoga is good for us. But it’s not only adults who benefit from yoga – the practice is good for kids, too. Yoga’s ability to reduce stress and increase resiliency is just as beneficial for children as it is for adults. Increased studies and research are proving that yoga makes for happier and healthier kids.
Nicole Cardoza founded Yoga Foster to bring yoga programs into schools and community centres in the US. The YF programs use yoga and storytelling to foster creativity in children. Cardoza answered a few questions about the organization and their expanding good work in the world. YF is currently capitalizing on yoga’s cool factor with their Back To Cool crowdfunding campaign. Support them and their fall yoga programs!
What is Yoga Foster and why did you start it?
Yoga Foster is a nonprofit that believes everyone kid should be able to foster their creativity. We provide free yoga curriculum and training for teachers, parents and volunteers so they can start yoga programs for the kids in their community. Through just one hour a week, we can transform how children think and relate to one another, and give our volunteer instructorss an opportunity to enhance their own practice alongside them. I’ve been a volunteer children’s yoga instructor for the past eight years now and really believe that providing this introduction to yoga – with a fun, creative, and imaginative style – not only transforms how children think and interact with others, but provides a quality program option for schools that are hurt by budget cuts.
What are the benefits of a yoga practice for kids?
The majority of schools in the US don’t have a comprehensive physical education program, and, especially in lower-income, urban environments, budgets are allocated towards academics, rather than arts-based or active programming. There’s plenty of research that shows how children’s yoga inherently reduces stress and can improve academic performance. But for us, we’re most interested in how yoga can help kids become more creative, imaginative and inspired. Play is an underrated but completely necessary part of development, not just for humans, but all animals, and often overlooked in the classroom, and abandoned for video games, browsing online, and more passive, solitary forms of entertainment. Using a blend of storytelling and movement, we can create a non-judgmental place where students can play, which is crucial for socio-emotional development and learning, on and off the mat.
You offer free yoga teaching training for volunteers. What do they learn in this training?
Our trainings focus in on the basics of child development, kids yoga poses, breathing, and songs, the fundamentals of creativity, classroom management, and how to build a lesson plan. At its end, participants should feel like they can understand the world of a modern child, how their body is developing, and how to blend storytelling and movement into something that will not just resonate, but help them blossom. However, our trainings are customized to those we teach. Because we work a lot with teachers that often have less yoga experience, but a strong understanding of classroom management and children development, we’ll tailor the content appropriately so they get the absolute best experience.
You’re based in NYC but are planning to expand to other cities. Where and why now?
Our goal has always been to provide our curriculum and training to anyone that’s interested in bringing free yoga to their community. We’re excited to expand into DC and Pittsburgh, providing in-person trainings in these markets, while reaching an even broader audience through our online teacher training platform. We’ve established a strong base of programs and supporters in NYC and feel like it’s time to start applying our model elsewhere.
YF is part of Beespace, a nonprofit incubator and co-working space – how does this support your work?
We’re lucky to have a space where we can collaborate with other nonprofits and find guidance and support from an incredible team of mentors and experts in the social good space. It’s comforting to be surrounded by other founders also advocating for a good cause!
Yoga Foster is running a Back To Cool crowdfunding campaign to fund the program costs for the fall. Read stories from volunteers and supporters on why they think yoga is cool, and support the cause.