Mandy Lawson is the training director for Kidding Around Yoga.
She’s also a born-and-raised Rupertite, who is now based out of Costa Rica and works in the Vancouver area.
Last week, Lawson brought Kidding Around Yoga to Prince Rupert. The program aims to teach school teachers how to run a yoga class for children, with the goal being to teach kids how to relax.
Bringing the program to her hometown is something she was very passionate about.
“The training is normally $650 US, but since this is my home town, and I feel so strongly about getting people involved, the price was dropped down to $350,” Lawson explained.
A Northern Health IMAGINE grant helped offset the cost for the school district to pay for the sessions. School District 52 (SD52) received $5,000 to help pay for the training from the grant.
“There is an online training component that comes with the course and [last] Sunday at 2 p.m. [at Roosevelt School], there was a free family yoga class. It is essentially a demonstration for the people in the training on what a class looks like. In the training itself, we have 28 people signed up, this is the biggest Kidding Around Yoga session we’ve ever had,” Lawson said.
The yoga trainer has previously returned to Prince Rupert and had a children’s yoga training session hosted at the civic centre in October 2014.
“Everyone signed up is a teacher, but the training is generally open to anyone who wants to work with kids. The main idea is to teach them creative ways to share yoga with children. We don’t require our trainees to have a background in yoga, so we do offer some of that, the Kidding Around Yoga message teaches the science of yoga, so everything is included,” Lawson said.
Kids’ yoga is a way to help children mentally as well as physically, added SD52 superintendent Sandra Jones back in April.
“We’ve done quite a bit of yoga when we can in the schools already. It’s been very successful in terms of helping kids self-regulate and be mindful and help them reduce anxiety,” said Jones.
At least eight teachers from SD52 signed up for the training and will replicate what they’ve learned this upcoming school year throughout the district.
“Our message that the trainees get leads to what we call the golden ticket. We give them an outline and base to work from so that they can teach a little bit of every aspect of yoga in a class. It will eventually get the kids to what we think is the most important part of yoga — shavasana, or deep relaxation. The idea is to get the kids to learn how to relax. It works as stress management. Oftentimes, schools will call it stress management for children, rather than yoga. So we teach the teachers to be able to share ways with the children so that they can lead a more peaceful, stress-free life,” Lawson added.
Lawson previously moved away from Prince Rupert in 2001 and got a degree in Psychology and Business Administration at Vancouver Island University (VIU).
She then became a certified yoga instructor in Costa Rica during a one-month teacher-training course in the jungle at Anamaya Retreat Centre.
Lawson elaborated on the impact it can have. “It’s huge, and I’m so excited that so many people from this area are taking our workshop. It also gives teachers another tool. I was recently in the No. 1 most violent school in Florida. It was scary to see how crazy it can be. And these kids just soaked up the yoga. We would give them a challenging pose, and they would do it, and you would see their faces light up with accomplishment. It gives the kids another option other than violence,” she explained.
“We talk about ways to get along with other people, and how to deal with people who aren’t treating you well. How can you deal with that in a healthy way? It’s life changing. I find there’s a lot of kids who haven’t found their thing, but they are really good at yoga, or really good at relaxing. It kind of gives kids another thing to be good at and it instils confidence as they grow up.”
To get involved, or find out more information about upcoming workshops, visit www.kiddingaroundyoga.com