My yoga story from the beginning.
I began practicing Iyengar Yoga in 1995, around the same time I started my teaching career in Boston. I found it to be the perfect antidote to daily stress, while also alleviating back pain from a previous injury. The practice helped me focus on my daily work with the children and calmed my mind in the evening while studying. In 1997, I obtained a masters in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
Brooklyn and my first grade class
After another year at a Cambridge, MA preschool, I moved to Brooklyn, NY to work in Coney Island. My new first-grade class was a tough environment to teach in, with underfunded classes and children facing a great deal of stress and many challenges in their daily lives. What I noticed first was their lack of focus. There was so much chaos in their lives; it seemed they never felt calm and safe enough to just sit and listen and learn. I also noticed the way the children moved, and how easily and naturally they would take on postures that resembled the yoga I was practicing at home every night. Forces were at work in my mind I didn’t even realize.
One afternoon we were reading through one of their workbooks, and we came across some bunny rabbits doing exercises. “It’s yoga,” I said to them, recognizing the Downward Dog and Tree poses of the silly bunnies.
“What’s yoga?” one of the students asked me. And the rest of my life was transformed.
I showed them the yoga I was practicing, and of course, they wanted to play along. I began incorporating a few poses and some active games between lessons, and it was amazing to see the difference it made. They could focus during the lessons and were calmer and happier throughout the day. I quickly realized how powerful and wonderful the yoga practice could be for children, and I haven’t stopped playing with them since.
Yoga becomes an essential part of my life.
With my love for educating, it was a natural next step to get a yoga teaching certificate. In the summer of 2001, I studied at the Nosara Yoga Institute in Nosara, Costa Rica with Don and Amba Stapleton, an amazing experience that led me to start an informal after-school yoga class once I returned with my certificate. The kids loved it, as did I, so in 2002, I got my children’s certifications at Next Generation Yoga in NYC and through the Radiant Child Yoga Program. Finally, with both certificates in hand, my strong background in education and a deep love for all children, I moved across the country to pursue my dreams. While teaching in SF, I took the Street Yoga training course and volunteered at a homeless shelter teaching yoga to the kids who lived there. In 2009 I took the Circus Yoga teacher training where I learned some fun new games to add to my repertoire.
In the fall of 2012, after having taken loads of mom and baby classes with my son Zephyr, I decided to take the Baby Om teaching training. Zephyr has now become my favorite family yoga teaching partner.
Through the years I’ve practiced many styles of yoga. Iyengar, Hatha and Vinyasa were my first loves. I then moved to the heart-opening principles of Anusara as well as Acro Yoga which is both fun and therapeutic. I’ve done lots of Para Yoga which really seemed to fit perfectly in my life after moving to CT. Now I’m back to the vinyasa, flow style and I’m loving it!
Teaching yoga to children is my passion and my career. I’m always looking for another chance to improve the lives and futures of children by practicing yoga with them and playing healthy games that help them laugh and love and grow.
Yoga with Ms. Lani is fun, relaxing, and kind. I love to do yoga!