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Getting to know… Cynthia Levin of connect kids YOGA

Local providers of quality yoga programs for children in early learning centres and preschools dedicated to, and compassionate, about making a positive difference to the lives of children, their families, the community and the world. We imagine a world where yoga is an everyday practice and believe the sooner young children are exposed to yoga, the more powerful the impact we will have on our communities and world.
Tell us about yourself
I am a mum of 3 teenage girls aged Molly,13, Hannah, 14, and Grace, 17 – as you can imagine I’m very busy with that! I spend my time being a mum or working in and on my business. I love going to the beach, paddle boarding along with practicing yoga, reading and taking some time out when the opportunity arises, which to be honest is not very often!
I have been working passionately with kids for more than 24 years, in and around early childhood education. Finding it difficult to work full-time in the childcare industry with 3 young children, I took some time out to raise my girls and do the most important job in the world, be a mum.
Not long after having my first daughter, Grace I went to my very first yoga class and the start of my amazing yoga journey. I developed and explored my own yoga practice over the next 11 years, while raising my girls and introducing them to ‘the other love of my life’ ~ Yoga!
When all the girls started school, I had a lot more free time and knowing that I didn’t want to return full-time to early childhood education, I started to really think about what I would love to do for work. Originally, I thought that I wanted to teach yoga to adults, but after attending a yoga expo and learning about kid’s yoga I knew this is what I wanted so I embarked on a mission to join together my two passions; kids and yoga.
Tell us about connect kids YOGA
It has been quite a journey. We are 5.5 years old and initially started teaching in primary schools, our first being Croydon Park Public School to a class of 60 students. We then did a lot of after school care programs and eventually went into high school arena, though it was always my passion to work with the little ones i.e. 2-5 years. We then started working in early learning centres and opened a couple of location studio classes, Burwood and Summer Hill, then Sylvania and Cronulla.
At the end of last year I evaluated where I’d like to take the business and what we are passionate about and it is always about early learning, so I made a decision to steer the business in this area. My business coach has been encouraging me for some time to niche my business and in December of last year I took the leap. As a result, we closed our studio locations classes this term.
connect kids YOGA is now a yoga provider for early learning centres and preschools. Since I made the decision, the growth has been phenomenal and we currently have 15 centres on board, a teaching team of 6 and 5 new programs starting next term.
What are the benefits for kids to learn the principles of yoga early on?
How often do you see your toddler upside down, balancing on their hands and feet? Or your baby rolling around on their back, playfully pulling at their toes? Where do you think the pose “happy baby” came from?
Kids are born yogis and when they start a yoga practice in their early years, it becomes second nature, creating a life long positive difference. Yoga boosts confidence, increases mental clarity and focus, builds strength and flexibility while improving overall well-being.
Kids yoga classes are VERY different to adult yoga! Kids yoga is loud, full of energy and creativity. Kids need to express themselves through play, movement, singing, songs and music and engaging with one another. Our aim is for the kids to start their yoga journey as young as possible.
What are the mental, physical, and emotional benefits for kids doing yoga?
Mental: they build resilience and can cope with the demands of todays society. There is so much pressure on them to be a certain way. Yoga helps children to focus, which is integral to learning.
Physical: they become stronger, more flexible and they grow better – their bodies are healthier practicing yoga.
Emotional: they become calmer, better focused, it builds self-regulation, mindfulness, confidence and overall wellbeing. Yoga fosters creativity, love, compassion, respect, inner strength and self-acceptance to encourage kids to connect to themselves, their peers, their community and their world.
Yoga works on all of those aspects all of the time; there are so a many benefits to doing yoga. It creates happy, healthy well-balanced children.
What is a typical class structure and what are the age groups?
We offer 2 groups:
Wee warriors: 2-3 year olds – 30 minute class
Little warriors: 3-5 year olds – 45 minute class
We like to think of our classes as a journey on a wave, starting off slow and building up to the high-energy movements and finally rolling all the way in and ending in a beautiful relaxation. The whole class is designed to help children self-regulate.
We start with a little hello to yoga song to bring them into the space followed by a warm up which we keep the same each week so that they understand the routine. This includes simple twists and shakes, some side opening twists and a mini sun salutation. We then do a breathing exercise and use a prop depending on the theme of the class such as a magic breathing ball that expands and contracts. They are quite mesmerised by the breathing ball.
The Little Warriors class focuses on weekly themes, such as gratitude, self-love, feelings, creating calm and being unique. We have 20 themes in our program. The moving section of the class, which is told through a storybook or a verbal story, we take children on a journey of yoga poses to physically relate to the theme. For the gratitude theme, we do poses to open the heart and encourage gratitude. We do a combination of hatha postures, and yoga therapy; a form of yoga that works with conditions such as ADHD and autism.
The expression section where they have the opportunity to freely express themselves is usually a dance activity or they get to share something about themselves.
Another breathing exercise helps create calm again and leads into the relaxation. We end with a little yoga mantra called Magic Words and sing an ending song.  Each child is individually recognised, thanked and given a yoga stamp before they sit together with their friends to do a colouring in sheet that connects to the theme of the class.
Can you recommend any kid’s yoga resources for home?
There are so many amazing kids yoga resources available. The No. 1 resource I would suggest though for the little ones is Cosmic Kids. They have free yoga classes available through YouTube.
What is your inspiration and motivation for running this business?
To make a difference in these little lives and impact as many people as possible with the benefits of yoga. To help children to see that they are perfect just the way that they are and through yoga they can learn increased self-esteem and awareness and that they don’t have to change in any way.
My aim is to help future generations to be more confident, happy, and healthy because when kids are like that everyone else is happy too. I am dedicated to make a positive change to kids, their families, the community and the world.
What advice could you give other mums looking to enter into their own health and wellness business?
The first thing would be to do something you are passionate about – it needs to come from the heart space then research, research, research and get support. Join business groups where you can find likeminded people and ask for advice. Do your homework on all things business. Know your target audience and who you are offering your business to. Do your competitor analysis, find your niche market – it has made a massive positive difference to our business. Collaborate with people, as it is much easier with two brains to get a different perspective.
If you could fix the world, what would you do or like to see?
Love. I would love to see more love and more kindness in the world. If people just stopped for a moment and took a breath and realised that we are all connected in some way we would be more understanding of others’ situations. We all have bad days though if we stopped to think about someone’s else’s perspective with love in your heart – there wouldn’t be so much anger and crankiness in the world, and less stress too.
What I can do is offer this world who I am, by bringing yoga to a generation of children. There can be more peace, love, and gratitude and that’s why I chose this. I have a passion and hope that I am making a big impact on the world.
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
I grew up in the Inner West and love Balmain and the vibrancy of Newtown. The mixture of people, the cafes and all the foods you can choose from. I adore Summer Hill, it has a good vibe, the IGA there is great and there are some great little cafes. It also has a nice family oriented feel about it.
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    04/04/2017 at 1:42 pm

    At this time I am ready to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming again to read further news.

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