Parker Pig Goes To Yoga
By Nikita Mehta
Last semester, the Communicative Disorders’ graduate students at San Francisco State University submitted a grant proposal that would implement pre-school yoga classes to children with autism in the greater Bay Area. The implications of this program would reach far beyond the children themselves. With greater ability to self-regulate through the practice of yoga, we set these children up for a lifetime of success. However, their families and their communities benefit from this as well. But why limit this gift to children with special needs? All children could use the power and magic of yoga.
Are you a teacher or a care provider that would like to implement a yoga class in your classroom? Or maybe you are a parent that would like to start a home practice with your children. SF Yoga Magazine has the perfect way to introduce yoga into your child’s life; Parker Pig Goes to Yoga!
We sat down with the creator of this amazingly adorable and interactive book and card game, Stacey Alysson, to talk yoga, inspiration and why this is so important for our youth today.
You were inspired to do a yoga teacher training after your experience with prenatal yoga. What changed in you during the prenatal yoga that sparked the desire to continue on the yoga journey?
I started my yoga practice when I was pregnant with my son, Sam, 8 years ago, initially to just stay in shape. I soon realized yoga was way more than just exercise. I started to feel really calm and peaceful after every class. During a rough divorce, I decided to then deepen my yoga practice and go to yoga as often as possible. Eventually, I completed my 200-hour teacher training at Hot 8 Yoga in Beverly Hills. Yoga gave me confidence and strength from within and the ability to calm my mind. So, I started teaching yoga and sharing the gift of yoga with everyone I knew. My love for children just organically lead me to teaching kids yoga at my son’s school.
Did you and your son attend mommy and me yoga classes?
My son and I currently don’t attend any mommy and me classes, but we do have a home yoga practice, his mommy is a yoga teacher after all. However, we are looking forward to attending classes at the new Zooga yoga studio in West Hollywood. My son is a very active boy and into competitive sports like soccer and basketball. We use our home yoga practice along with some meditation to help calm his body and increase his flexibility. He really enjoys inversions, handstands, and occasional back flips on the bed, too. The back flips aren’t part of our yoga practice! My son inspires me every day to be the best version of myself. He makes me laugh.
What was the spark of inspiration that lead to Parker Pig Goes to Yoga?
The spark of inspiration that lead to the creation of “Parker Pig Goes to Yoga” book and game really just came from a lack of new kids yoga material to teach my students. I teach over 400 children a week at pre-schools in the LA area, and I wanted to create something new with my own personal teaching style. So, I wrote and self-published my own interactive kids yoga book and then later a card game to go along. The books and game I created are just really an extension of how I teach my kids yoga classes now. This is all a passion project gone wild! My students and I come up with new games and ideas on how to practice yoga during every class. The key, I believe, is to always be in the moment, keep it fun, fresh and engaging! My book is an empowering story about a pig who didn’t think she could do yoga, did it, and had a great time. The story is a great way for kids to see that anyone can do yoga. I also mention it’s a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect! It doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your toes!
Can you tell us a little about the card game and how it complements the book?
The yoga card game was created to help the kids practice the yoga poses they learn in my book, Parker Pig Goes to Yoga. When learning is fun and entertaining, I find children retain and grasp so much more. So why not make a game? So, I did!
At how many preschools do you teach yoga? What is your favorite part about teaching yoga to children?
Currently, I teach at 4 different preschool and elementary school locations with over 400 children a week. I also teach regular private clients and families outside of school as well. My favorite part of teaching yoga to children is really just being with them. They are so cute and so much fun to be with! I also enjoy watching them be so free and expressive. It’s just amazing. They have no ego. They don’t judge. They’re just are so real and in the moment. I also love seeing how they incorporate what I teach them in class and use their Yoga poses and breathing as a tool to help calm their bodies outside of my class. I love hearing their parents’ stories about how yoga has really impacted them and how they love practicing at home. My students are my inspiration. All my ideas come from their creative minds. They are so imaginative, carefree and fearless! I think it’s also so important today for them to get up and moving especially with all the technology we have keeping them glued to a screen. Yoga also gives them the tools to help calm their bodies, learn to self-regulate all while making them stronger at the same time. I really think our youth can benefit from learning yoga, mindfulness, and ways to calm their bodies. Also, yoga is being used in Occupational and Physical Therapy! A few therapists are currently using Parker Pig now for their clients! We also need more peacefulness and mindfulness starting with our youth more now than ever.
In our world of smart phones and constant stimulation, yoga is becoming more and more important for children. Where should parents start if they want to start doing a home practice with their kids?
A lot of my clients ask me what to do with their children at home for a home Yoga practice. First of all, I highly recommend the Mindfulness for Children App. It’s a guided audio only mediation for children. Easy for beginners to follow along just by listening. Also, get down with them on a yoga mat! Create fun games with them to practice their animal yoga poses with sounds and movement. Families who do yoga together, stay together! And read my book with your kids! It’s a great introduction to yoga that is fun and playful.
You have written a book and made a card game and now have moved on to yoga mats for kids! What’s next? A teacher training for preschool yoga?
After my first book, yoga card game and Parker Pig yoga mats (created all within less than a year), I’m now working on my second book and more yoga games like yoga dice. I’m currently seeking a publisher for my second book (if any publishers happen to be reading this article!). I may even do a Parker Pig kids yoga apparel line. Whatever gets my kids inspired to practice more yoga, that is what I will do next. Maybe even a DVD of my kid’s yoga class, and possibly a teacher training soon. I’m a mother first, but sharing the gift of yoga with as many children as possible, knowing that all children are benefiting from yoga, is my intention, passion and goal for the new year! Stay tuned.... Namaste!