Listen in as experienced teacher, founder of Mari Fox Wellness, and author of “Yay for Yoga,” Mari Irwin shares her passion and beliefs in the joy of yoga for families.
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Steve [Intro]: 00:00 Hello, and welcome to the parents as learning coaches edition of the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. Parents and caregivers play many different roles, and even sometimes conflicting roles as they support children’s development. The pandemic has shown a light on the importance of parents supporting learners. In this podcast, I’ll share my experiences as a teacher, educator, parent, grandparent, and continuous learner that can support your coaching efforts.
Steve: 00:34 Parents, Caretakers, & Kids: Yay for Yoga. The author of, “Yay For Yoga,” Mari Irwin is sharing her passion and beliefs and the joy of yoga for families together. Welcome, Mari.
Mari: 00:50 Thank you. Thank you so much.
Steve: 00:53 Mari, I know that you guide yoga activities for all ages. What are the elements of yoga that many listeners may be unaware of?
Mari: 01:05 I’d say that one thing that listeners may not be aware of is that yoga is more than just being flexible and being able to touch your toes. It is a wonderful way to relieve stress. It’s a wonderful way to connect with your breath and to create some space in the body to feel better, and it can help create the optimal environment for learning and also relaxation and sleep. And what I love about yoga and practicing yoga is that it can help us to be kinder to ourselves and in turn kinder to others – siblings, family members, community members and the like.
Steve: 01:52 So can can you talk a little bit about what you see when you get parents and kids doing yoga together?
Mari: 02:00 Oh, it’s so much fun to see parents and kids work together because one thing that I’ve noticed is there’s this nice eye contact between kids and parents. A lot of times we often have busy schedules and see the sides of everyone’s faces, just becuase everyone’s in motion or even just working. And it’s so nice to have parents and kids do partner work together because they connect in a way that’s not something that they do necessarily on a day to day basis. And I think what’s so nice is with these poses, especially when it involves balancing and things, there’s a sense of communication. They have to communicate with each other and connect in such a nice way. And lots of times, spontaneously, kids will hug their parents and it’s just so sweet to see how these feel good emotions come up and then this like, burst of joy comes out and it comes out through a hug and it’s just so, so wonderful to observe and witness. And then another thing is, sometimes, when kids and parents work together, there’s kind of a level playing field because sometimes parents are really new to yoga and the experience, and so kids can help parents and it’s just nice to see that it’s not a competition, but there’s this cute support and connection that can happen between parents and kids when they’re practicing together.
Steve: 03:45 I work with lots of schools in different countries as well as across the states and there’s a pretty high stress time right now for kids and I’m wondering what thoughts you have with introducing yoga to middle schoolers and high school students as a important resource, maybe.
Mari: 04:11 Yes, I’d say that is just a wonderful thing to introduce middle school and high schoolers. It’s so portable – you can be inside, outside, library, gym, wherever you are. There can be a desk, you can be seated on the floor. It’s so great to incorporate these little brain breaks in the day to just, press pause on whatever’s going on in our lives to just practice being present in the body and just to create some space in the body for air space between the vertebrae of the spine, space for our heart to beat and just kind of clear the junk mail of the mind by doing something like these poses as an example, just to stretch and breathe in a healthy way.
Steve: 05:04 So talk to folks about Yay For Yoga and how do you see it as a resource for parents?
Mari: 05:12 Well, you know, it’s so nice to have an outlet or a resource to go to when you’re just not sure what to do to help your child sleep or to help them focus or to help change the channel in their mind. And what I’ve seen is, sometimes kids are just anxious or their mind is scattered or they can’t sleep very well. And having Yay for Yoga as a morning routine or a nighttime routine can be so nice because it can be, just do a few pages or you can of course, read the whole book. But that’s something so nice because it’s about me and my friend Roni the Frog, and we, along with other friends do poses and talk about this little word called yoga and the fact that it’s more than just poses.
Mari: 06:05 We talk about kindness to ourselves and animals and community and breathing and all sorts of things. The great thing is that there’s a chance for parents to access this book, even just a few pages and practice the poses and along with the poses are some reflective questions to engage the readers. So how does this pose feel in the body? Or what is your favorite pose today or tonight? So there’s this opportunity to think about what they’re thinking about and reflect and just take a moment to just consider and slow down, which is really important.
Steve: 06:54 So if I got this right as a parent, I don’t need to have been to my own yoga class to pick up Yay for Yoga and have fun with my kids with it?
Mari: 07:05 That’s exactly it. Yes. No experience necessary. So it’s inclusive. And I’ve read the book out loud to groups of kids, groups of parents, and some kids are in the circle with me sitting on the floor and some parents are doing the poses sitting in a chair. So it’s meant to be for everybody in some way.
Steve: 07:31 Well, good luck with the book. How can people find out more about you and Yay For Yoga?
Mari: 07:40 To find out more about me and my book, they can go right to my website, marifoxwellness.com.
Steve: 07:47 We’ll be sure to put that in the lead-in to this podcast. Thank you so much, Mari.
Mari: 07:52 Thank you so much. It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you.
Steve: 07:58 Thank you for listening. You can subscribe to Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud on iTunes and Podbean. And please remember to rate and review us on iTunes. I also want to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on Twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.