Fit for Life columnist Nicole Tsong was part of a team of yoga teachers invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll to teach yoga to kids.
WE WAVED our arms overhead, we cajoled, we did yoga poses. A teacher’s gotta do what a teacher’s gotta do to get students into class. Especially when a purple dinosaur named Barney and a girl named Dora the Explorer are nearby. And your audience is ages 3 and up.
I’m not used to this kind of competition.
In April, I was part of a team of yoga teachers invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll to teach yoga to kids. Yes, Michelle Obama was there. No, I did not meet her. Or Malia or Sasha. Or, for that matter, President Obama.
Still, it was a day to remember.
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The annual White House tradition is mind-boggling in size, with more than 30,000 people flocking to the White House lawn over the course of one day. The event offered activities true to this year’s theme: “Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” Kids chose from an impressive array of events, such as listening to stories read by NASCAR star Danica Patrick or Adrian Peterson from the Minnesota Vikings, busting through football dummies or dancing and singing to performances by the band The Wanted and singer Jordin Sparks.
To be frank, I was a little distracted by all the cool stuff going on around the Yoga Garden. During a break, I gawked at Michelle Obama’s lovely garden and took a few spins with an orange hula hoop. Who doesn’t want to hula hoop on the White House lawn?
Despite the competition, our team persuaded lots of kids to hop onto a red, blue or light gray yoga mat. Many of them had never done yoga before. But I was amazed by how many had heard of yoga or had parents who do it — proving, if any further proof was needed, that yoga is part of the mainstream.
Our classes were brief and fun. The kids tried all kinds of poses, standing on one leg while waving their arms around in the air, or vrooming into airplane pose. Some popped right into the backbend wheel, while others embraced leaping up and down, ribbiting like frogs.
Some kids were earnest, others were nervous, so most of the teachers did the poses alongside them all day. We showed them how to grab their ankles for floor bow and did boat pose all day long, sometimes rowing with our arms and singing “Row, row, row your boat” along with the kids.
All the kids were willing to try poses, even the girls in their cute Easter dresses. They shouted out their favorite animals and imitated us as we did donkey kicks. The daring kicked up into handstands.
We closed every class with the yoga teachers forming a tunnel. The kids shrieked as they ran through.
It might have been the most fun I have ever had teaching yoga.
I move for a living now, but I spent many years feeling like working out was a burden and a hassle. It was inspiring to be part of a broader national movement to show kids how to make fitness part of their life right now.
Staying fit is as easy as jumping on a mat and hunting for the Easter Bunny among the trees.