SPOTLIGHT: Karma Kids Yoga


Our Joy issue is launching soon, and here is a sneak peek at Tashya Knight’s article profiling some amazing kids yoga teachers in our community. Learn more about Shari Vilchez-Blatt one of the many teachers profiled below who is the founder of Karma Kids Yoga and also in our JOY issue available at partner studios in June. Interested in learning how more about teaching kids yoga? Join Shari’s upcoming kids YTT starting Friday, May 17th- Sunday, May 19th at Balance Arts Center, located at 151 West 30th Street in NYC! REGISTER NOW!

What is different about teaching yoga to kids vs teaching yoga to adults? Is it different?
There are so many differences in kids versus adult yoga! Could you imagine if all of a sudden, in your adult yoga class, someone left their mat and started running in a circle around the room?! Or if you’re in the middle of teaching a pose/flow and someone says, “Did you know that my brother has a bicycle and I saw a frog and I love unicorns and cold pillows?” It’s the energy mostly that differs, but also expectations of behavior. I would never want my child students to behave like adults….too weird. They need to talk, share, connect, ask questions, share some more…show you a trick or two (“look what I can do” can often be heard in a children’s yoga class, but what they show you may or may not be yoga—either way, it’s a gift to the room, so I make space for it. Kids classes are loud, playful, silly, quiet, might involve singing, dancing, jumping, include non-traditional yoga props (from balls to crafts to stuffed animals and pom moms).

What inspired you to teach kids yoga? 
I don’t know how else to explain that my random path of events led me to teach yoga to children. I was an ad exec, very successful, but not passionate as I once had been. I was laid off one summer, decided to just chill out and not look for another job. I got back into my own yoga practice with all the free time, and was able to see my nieces and nephews more over the summer, too. When I did yoga around them, they would copy me. I didn’t know if that was OK, so I did some research and found that of course it was great for kids and that there was a training coming up in my area that summer. I had NOTHING going on. I love to learn, so I took it. It changed me. I took another one. And another…learning more and more. I loved it and just wanted to share with as many children as possible. Two months later I opened up my first studio in NYC dedicated just to kids and families!

What pose do kids enjoy the most?
I don’t think there is just one pose that kids love the most…it really depends on the child (it’s a great icebreaker to ask this at the start of the kids class. My name is Shari and my favorite yoga pose is….and we all do the pose!). And favorites change as our bodies change, we get stronger and more confident. It’s typically one that they feel strong or calm in. If it’s a challenging pose that they can do, kids will likely choose that so that they can show it off. Better than saying a popular pose that they like, I will say they LOVE to invent poses! Give a child 30-60 seconds to come up with a never-before-seen pose and name it! Or pair kids up to invent a partner pose. Or 3+ kids to invent group poses.

Share one of your favorite memories/moments you’ve experienced teaching kids yoga?
There are way too many magical moments from over 20 years…and thousands of kids….From celebrity parents jumping into your yoga adventure with as much enthusiasm as a child (thank you, Jane Krakowski for being the most fun momma)…to my husband farting loudly off camera during live Instagram classes (yes and everyone heard it, and I had to address it)….to Sesame Street Workshop taking over my studio to film “yoga school”…so instead of noting just one, I’ll note that any time a child surprises themselves with their own strength and ability, the looks on their faces are everything!

How do you bring joy to teaching kids yoga? How does teaching kids yoga bring you joy?
I bring joy to my classes by being accepting, kind, compassionate, friendly and honest. And of course, a bit of silly doesn’t hurt. Or a lot. I include laughter, wonder, and always invite them to be who they are, to listen to their bodies (versus me), and make sure everyone feels heard. I build community and make connections (friendships) within each class, allowing kids to experience other kids by mixing up partnerships, playing games, having challenges and tasks, all while having so much fun! It’s the energy I bring to the class.

Nearly every day that I teach, I have a funny or sweet story to take home. But even better than that, when a child finally gets a challenging pose that they’ve been working on (they usually surprise themselves), it’s the best feeling to witness their excitement, their confidence and their glow! It’s a celebration for all!