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Kids Yoga Teacher Spotlight: Lisa Vratny-Smith

Tell us a little about yourself (hometown, basic background, experience with kids, do you have a family, current work environment): I grew up mostly in Lamar, Colorado, but also spent a few years in Steamboat Springs in early elementary school. I also had the good fortune to spend many summers in Creede with my grandmother exploring the mountains and developing a love of nature. I attended college at CU Boulder (Go Buffs!) and graduate school at DU’s Graduate School of Social Work.  I live with my husband of 23 years and my two sons (ages 17 & 20). Our oldest is currently home from college due to the current change to online classes and our youngest will be graduating from high school this spring. I have been practicing yoga since before the boys were born and trained as a yoga teacher while I was pregnant with my youngest son. Consequently, I have had built in yoga students to explore, practice, and play with over the years. 

I have been a school social worker in Aurora Public Schools since 1994 and currently work as a Sustainable Wellness Coach incorporating mindfulness and yoga into our wellness perspective for students, families, and staff.  Tell us about what initially interested you about taking a kids yoga teacher training?  What was your intention with this training? I love bringing yoga to children as a way to empower them to connect with and learn about their bodies and emotions. Learning to regulate ourselves through breath and movement creates a sense of agency in impacting how we are feeling and how we react to the things that happen in our lives. I believe this is one of the greatest gifts we can offer to our students. How have you found the experience of learning how to teach kids yoga? I really enjoyed the trainings with Young Yokes, which are full of research and developmental information. They provided an additional structure to my teaching that has improved the quality of my classes. I also love that we get to play and be silly, which is one of the best parts of teaching yoga to kids. What have been your biggest takeaways? The power of intentional connection as a starting point for classes and how it provides children space for their voice to be heard. I also feel this in the reflections at the end of class, which are always moving for me.  The training also reinvigorated my passion for teaching yoga to kids and has provided me with concrete skills, resources, and a framework for growing in my teaching. I have also used my learning to shape the trainings I provide to the staff in our school district. Where are you currently teaching kids yoga and how has taking a training supported you in your class offerings?

I currently teach in my school district to various age groups on an intermittent basis. I have been creating brief mindfulness videos for our students and staff to practice virtually during this remote learning time as well. I also teach staff how to teach mindfulness and yoga to students.  What do you want to teach most to young people and how do you get your intention across in a classroom setting? The underlying focus of my classes is to have fun and be kind to yourself. My mantra for both adults and kids is that we all start where we are and we get where we’re going. Everyone’s body is different and no one takes the same path. What takeaways do you want young people to leave your class with?  What brings you back each week to teach kids yoga? To know that they can choose to move and breathe and change their experience of the moment if they want to. Teaching and playing with kids fills me with laughter and joy and that brings me back again and again. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with others thinking about enrolling their kids in a yoga class OR taking a kids yoga teacher training to teach themselves? Teaching through play is one of the most effective and joyful tools we have. Young Yokes trainings bring this to life and their teachers spread this joy to their students. Providing your kids the opportunity to learn yoga and mindfulness will be a gift they can return to throughout their lives. CONNECT with Lisa!!! Lisa Vratny-Smith, MSW, E-RYT®200

APS Sustainable Wellness Coach - Aurora Public Schools

Email - lavratny-smith@aurorak12.org Facebook - APS Sustainable Wellness and Finding the Balance Within, LLC Website - Findingthebalancewithin.com Youtube - Lisa Vratny-Smith (currently adult yoga and meditation, but more kids videos to come soon.) "Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle and the life of that candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." ~Buddha





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