Today, we join Andrea from Kinderyoga Berlin as she reflects on her story and shares it with us. We hear about what moves her, what she wants to move, and how she happened to come across the fox.
Over the past 13 years, my passion for yoga has evolved into a love for parent-child yoga. It was through the practice of yoga that I was able to experience grounding and self-acceptance. One of my favorite yoga poses is Mountain Pose, where you stand straight on the mat with grounded, bare feet – immovable, filled with courage and strength. Another one is Tree Pose (see photo above), where we stand up straight, with one foot firmly rooted to the ground. With a sturdy trunk and solid stability, yet the wind is still welcome to waft through our “leafy crown.”
Today I pass on the things I have learned and experienced to the children and parents who come to me. I love to teach people about grounding and touch, and about the joy of mindful movement on the yoga mat – especially across generations.
We can also practice poses like Mountain Pose or Tree Pose when we’re sharing our mat with someone else – grown-up and child. For instance, we can do Double Tree Pose, where we start by imagining that our feet are standing on the soft forest floor. Where we stand close together and support each other. Or we can perform Mountain Pose as a group exercise. This is where the children stand in the room with their feet well grounded, and the parents – walking from child to child – are allowed to wobble each one a little and then praise their strength. Sometimes, each child gets their own “mountain name”: “You’re standing so firm, you must be Mount Everest!” Afterwards, it’s time for the kids to test the adults’ stability and we do it the other way around.
Andrea and Lilly from Kinderyoga Berlin on hejhej-mats, photographed by Nora Tabel
I actually came up with a lot of our parent-child yoga exercises myself or took ideas from children’s yoga and adult yoga and extrapolated on them. Being a creative, I’m constantly thinking up new exercises, even in the middle of class. I advocate a contemporary and creative style of children’s yoga that involves a lot of spontaneity and a pinch of rock ‘n’ roll (a remnant from my many years working for MTV and VIVA, which is a perfect fit since kids are spirited and wild, too). As a yoga teacher for adults and for children, I created my own “Parent-Child Yoga” training program. And that’s how I share my knowledge both with families and with yoga teachers.
Besides touch, the theme of grounding is very important to me. Both of these themes run like a common thread through my work as a parent-child yoga teacher. We always pay a lot of attention to our feet. And naturally, this also relates back to my own experience. Only since discovering minimalist shoes have I begun to honor and respect my own feet even more.
And ever since I emancipated my feet, I feel even wilder and more liberated! I’ve always enjoyed being barefoot – indoors, mind you. But last year, an online course about being barefoot brought about a real transformation: moving away from insoles and rigid soles, away from the fear of stepping into anything. And moving towards grounding and towards feeling, towards freedom!
Then, on a family holiday in the picturesque region of Silesia (Poland), the whole family did it: My husband, Lilly, and I took off our shoes and walked along field paths and through meadows. Barefoot, even in the crisp chill of autumn! This sensation of feeling all these different textures so closely – the earth, the grass, stones and shrubs, moss and moisture – is simply wonderful. Since then I have taken innumerable barefoot walks – at first with bare feet, then in Wildlings. Always in direct contact with the earth. And having warm feet while still feeling like I’m walking barefoot is simply phenomenal!
Kinderyoga Berlin, photographed by Nora Tabel
The grounding that we experience in Wildling shoes or with our bare feet is also something I offer regularly in my workshops. Because I have already noticed while doing yoga in kindergarten classes that frequently, these young ones already have a poor relationship with their feet. Many children want to keep their socks on even in the summer and refuse to touch their feet. That’s okay, of course, but it takes sensitivity and all sorts of creative ideas to get them excited about their amazing feet! That’s why we often incorporate a barefoot path in our parent-child yoga classes, where you can feel different materials like marbles, cotton, spiky foot massage balls, or sandpaper with your feet. We pick up colorful pompoms, tattered tissues, and marbles and put them into bowls – I call it “cleaning up the forest.” To finish, we partner up and give each other a relaxing foot massage with fragrant, essential oils. Our feet have earned it. Because our feet totally rock!
Strengthening our feet, both big and small, in the way we playfully practice this in our parent-child yoga workshops, is further reinforced by wearing Wildling shoes. When I wear Wildlings, I can also experience grounding and a new kind of stability through direct contact with the ground. Thanks to their thin sole, a walk in the woods turns into an experience and even becomes a barefoot path: We can feel the different textures in Wildlings, too. We move much more mindfully. In Wildlings, when the ground changes from being soft to where we can feel little stones, it makes us pause for a moment. We can feel!
The whole exercise creates awareness and a unique connection to nature for our children, but also for us adults. And what’s more, the experience of stability and grounding leads to greater resilience and gives us the robustness we need to cope with difficult situations in life.
So in this respect, Wildlings and my passion, parent-child yoga, complement each other. And if I had one big wish, it would be this: May we all, whether big or small, go through life more mindful and more grounded. With great enthusiasm for expression and a good feeling of contact with the ground. I’m sure the world would be a better place.
Idea: Why not try the Tree and Mountain partner poses in the great outdoors while you’re wearing your Wildlings? Take a look at how trees are rooted in the earth or what special characteristics a mountain has. Afterwards, you can discuss what you experienced.
Header: Lilly and Andrea from Kinderyoga Berlin on hejhej-mats, photographed by Nora Tabel