Making yoga and mindfulness fun for kids: Interview with Cosmic Kids
More than 4,000 teachers in the UK are now qualified in meditation exercises to tackle pupil stress, with some schools introducing daily mindfulness classes to children. Activities such as yoga and mindfulness have been shown to have huge benefits for children, both psychically and mentally. So, wouldn’t it be great if your children could practise yoga and mindfulness in a fun way, whether at home or at school?
That’s where Cosmic Kids come in. Created by married couple Jamie and Martin, Cosmic Kids was launched when yoga teacher Jamie decided to combine her love of teaching kids’ yoga with her love of writing stories. In May 2012, they posted their first yoga adventure onto their YouTube channel.
Fast forward to today and their very first video (Squish the Fish) has had more than a million views and now sits alongside many other stories and yoga adventures. As well as yoga videos, Cosmic Kids also have a series to encourage mindfulness, guided relaxations and even a Storytime series called Namastories.
We sat down with Jamie to discuss the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for children, how kids have been reacting to Cosmic Kids and what the future holds…
Image credit: Cosmic Kids Facebook Page
What first inspired you to launch Cosmic Kids?
I was teaching kids’ yoga classes locally and getting a great response from the kids and parents. I realised I wanted to reach more kids and give them the freedom to do yoga whenever they wanted.
My husband Martin came up with the idea of filming my yoga adventures. We went down to our local sports and social club, put up a green curtain – so we could superimpose me on an animated background – and filmed three stories. We eventually plucked up the courage to put them on YouTube. Five years later and we’ve had 30 million views on our channel – and thousands of kids do yoga with Cosmic Kids every day.
What are the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for children?
With yoga, kids learn to look after themselves. They find the yoga fun, but also a bit challenging, so they feel this urge to practise. This means they get stronger and improve their balance and coordination over time.
Of course, yoga is awesome for kids’ physical health, but it also improves mental health. They develop body awareness, (which helps with mindfulness) and they learn from the characters and stories. It equips them for life – and teaches them how to help themselves when they meet new challenges.
What’s your advice for a parent or child who’s new to the world of yoga and meditation and is considering trying Cosmic Kids for the first time?
The main thing is to have fun. Embrace the fun and let yourself be delighted by the movement and how it makes you feel.
How do you approach coming up with a new video / yoga adventure?
I take inspiration from the kids and the stuff that they have to deal with in their lives. Our first ever yoga adventure on YouTube, Squish the Fish, was inspired by the kids at a preschool I was teaching at.
They were struggling with separation anxiety – having a hard time saying goodbye to their parents in the morning. I did a story about a fish who learns to be brave about being on his own.
We’ve done stories about looking after your teeth, being honest, helping your friends, bullying and many other issues that kids encounter.
Image credit: Cosmic Kids Facebook Page
What made you decide to use animals within your videos?
I mostly use animals as the main characters in my stories as there’s usually a corresponding yoga pose to represent them. I give them human qualities and characteristics so that the kids can relate to them.
The kids often ask for a yoga story based on a favourite movie too, so we’ve done adventures based on Star Wars, Harry Potter and Frozen, with Minecraft and Trolls coming soon too, as is The Force Awakens. Kids are never short of ideas!
What’s your favourite yoga pose and why?
That’s a tough choice! Savasana is one. It’s the relaxation pose you do after doing a lovely yoga sequence. All the good stuff marinades in your body and you get up feeling amazing. I also love Downward Dog for the refresh it gives your brain and the wonderful stretch down the backs of the legs.
Mountain Pose is pretty cool too – we find strength in feeling the ground beneath us and lift our spines and heads up into the clouds. I also love Dancer Pose, It’s strong, challenges balance and you really tune into your breathing to steady your nervous system – it’s so playful!
“Our mission with Cosmic Kids is to make kids yoga accessible to kids all over the world, so the stories, postures and the performance style in Cosmic Kids have all been developed with kids in mind.”
As well as having your videos, you also provide teaching resources for aspiring yoga teachers. Can you tell us more about this?
Our mission with Cosmic Kids is to make kids yoga accessible to kids all over the world, so the stories, postures and the performance style in Cosmic Kids have all been developed with kids in mind. We help other adults access these techniques and methods through our online training and downloadable class plans.
We offer a recognised online certification course for qualification as a professional kids’ yoga teacher, a class management course and a business course, which is all about building a kids’ yoga business that is both profitable and sustainable.
We also offer a free Kids’ Yoga Crash Course. This is a fun way of dipping your toe into teaching kids’ yoga: 60 minutes of video training. As well as the training, we also offer a wide range of downloadable class plans and posture guides on the Cosmic Kids website. We want as many people as possible to feel confident about teaching super fun, safe and inspiring kids’ yoga classes in their communities.
Children from all over the world seem to have reacted phenomenally well to Cosmic Kids. What’s your favourite success story so far?
It fills my heart with so much happiness to hear that Cosmic Kids is having such a positive impact on the lives of so many kids. I hear so many beautiful stories from parents and teachers on social media.
Kids love it and their parents are thrilled because it’s healthy screen time. They’re moving and learning and their parents tell us that they are sleeping better and getting stronger. There are some amazing stories about the impact of Cosmic Kids.
However, the story of Matt stands out. At three years old, he had little use of his legs below his knees due to suffering a spinal cord injury in the early stages of pregnancy. His mum got in touch and told us that he was in a plaster cast until he was five months old and has always worn leg braces. In October, he had a major operation to straighten his legs, which definitely helped, but he would still fall over 30 to 40 times a day. She said Matt had been trying lots of different exercises but she then found Cosmic Kids when researching ways Matt could strengthen his legs.
Kerry told us that Matt fell in love with the yoga characters and now he enjoys yoga four to five times a week: “Practicing yoga has had a really positive impact on his life. He used to get frustrated because he couldn’t run and jump around like the other kids, but now he’s found an exercise he really enjoys. Although he still has difficulty walking, the yoga is definitely helping, particularly with his balance. He’s also much more focused than he was before and can concentrate for longer periods of time. He also gets less leg cramps with the help of the yoga stretching.”
To hear that our videos on YouTube have helped Matt and other kids this much is mind-blowing to me!
Image credit: Cosmic Kids YouTube Channel
What’s your favourite Cosmic Kids yoga adventure and why?
I love Popcorn the Dolphin. Underwater ocean adventures are always packed full of great kids’ yoga poses and I like Popcorn’s catchphrase: ‘Stay Calm. Keep Breathing. Think Positive!’
What’s next for Cosmic Kids?
To keep making yoga and mindfulness available to kids all over the world. We’re making loads more yoga adventures, a series of shorter Brain Breaks. We also want to do a tour.
Our dream is for millions of kids to wake up in the morning and do yoga. We’re definitely getting there!
Thanks to Jamie and Martin for talking to us! More on Cosmic Kids can be found here: www.cosmickids.com, while their latest videos and yoga adventures can be found on their YouTube channel. You can also keep up-to-date by following Cosmic Kids on Facebook and Twitter.
Do your kids practice yoga or mediation? Let us know in the comments below.