To any parent who has attended classes at lil omm yoga studio in Tenleytown or whose child has had the chance to take a yoga class offered at school or through a community event organized by the Alexandria-based non-profit organization YoKid, the dedication and passion of lil omm owner Pleasance Silicki and YoKid co-founder Michelle Kelsey Mitchell are abundantly apparent in their work.
From in-studio classes at lil omm to yoga on the lawn of the White House at the Easter Egg Roll, Pleasance and Michelle have helped to make yoga a household word for families all over the DC area.
Still, to go beyond creating space and opportunity for children to experience the benefits of yoga in their hometown to then create the first ever national conference on the topic is pretty exciting and impressive, especially considering they have, between them five children age 6 and under.
The National Kids Yoga Conference will take place Saturday, September 27 at the George Washington University School of Public Health. It kicks off the previous evening with a sold-out networking dinner. Regular admission registration for Saturday’s all-day conference – which includes lunch and healthy snack and tea breaks – is available through Monday, September 15. Late registration continues through September 24.
The conference is open to parents, educators, yoga teachers, and anyone who wants to contribute to the conversation. The organizers felt that with all the research coming from every direction about the benefits of yoga for children, the time is now to bring people together “for the health and well-being of our future.”
It’s a learning conference for adults that might, in future years include children. Anyone needing a special accommodation, such as nursing mothers, can reach out to the organizers directly. This year, youth ages 13-17 can participate in their own track with a full day of yoga and inspiration. This track is sold out, but see http://conference.yokid.org/teens/ for more information.
The organizers expect more than 300 people to attend, and they already have participants from all over the world. They originally planned to simply organize several panels but had such an overwhelming response from the community that they came up with five different tracks featuring 40 different presenters plus keynotes and group practice. The Friday night dinner (sponsored by Whole Foods Market) will conclude with intention-setting for Saturday followed by live music from Kira Willey of Fireflies Musical Yoga and Saturday’s midday keynote speaker Bari Koral of Yogapalooza, the world’s first kids yoga music and movement TV show coming soon to Veria Living Network.
The whole experience planning for the conference over the past year has been one big extension of their yoga practice for Michelle and Pleasance. Both women gushed in talking to me about their amazing team of women and also spoke matter-of-factly about the team having honored everyone’s need for a break or a vacation and their attunement to one another’s stress levels and needs for family time. What other way would make sense for yogis? Pleasance said of the conference-planning process, “It’s a direct reflection of who we are.”
The full conference program is available at www.kidsyogaconference.org. The site includes links to all the presenters’ businesses, and the conference blog includes spotlights of some of the presenters, including local Visiting Feelings author and children’s therapist Lauren Rubenstein.
The conference opens with at 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning with an opening with the organizers and Shakta Khalsa of Radiant Child Yoga (by video) and keynotes by founder Next Generation Yoga founder Jodi Komitor and Eat Breathe Thrive founder Chelsea Roff. At 1:00, after a boxed lunch (provided), musician Bari Koral of the upcoming TV show Yogapalooza will deliver the midday keynote.
For parents and educators, there are many options to choose from during the breakout sessions at 9:15, 10:30, 2:45 and 4:00. Sessions in the “Tools” might be of particular interest to parents, including the sessions
- Mindfulness Through Story
- Fireflies Musical Yoga for Kids
- Partner Up! with Karma Kids Yoga
- Yogic Tools for Transitions
- Hip Hop Yoga
Sessions in the “School” track include:
- Art and Yoga for At-Risk Youth
- Yoga Ed. Tools for Teachers
- Behavior, Attention, and Regulation: Setting the BAR for Learning with Yoga and Mindfulness
- Integrate Yoga into Your School, Any Time in Any Space
- Yoga Therapy in the Classroom
- Bully Proofing Skills Using Yoga
- Say YES to Yoga: Learn Youth Empowerment Skills
- Yoga Tools for Schools
- Movement & Mindfulness for Healthier Kids & Classrooms
- Yoga for H & PE – Why & How
In the “Research” track, sessions include:
- Navigating Teens Skillfully into Adulthood
- Yoga-Based Psychotherapy for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma and Neglect
- Children and Trauma: The Use of Yoga and Mindfulness as Healing Modalities
- Yoga for Youth with Food & Body Image Issues
- An Overview of Scientific Research on Yoga in Children and Adolescents
There is also a “Business” track for yoga teachers and studio owners. A closing keynote will be presented 5:00 by Ali Smith of the Holistic Life Foundation, and Eddie Stern will speak on “The Future of Wellness Education” before leading the conference in a closing yoga class.
Register before 11:59 a.m. on Monday, September 15 for regular registration. Late registration will remain open through September 24. Use the code “MindfulHealthy” for $15 off admission (includes boxed lunch with vegetarian, non-vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options and healthy snacks).
More questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of YoKid, lil omm, and Hoon Photography.
Disclaimer: The author’s business received partial conference sponsorship in exchange for writing this post, writing a post on her resource site, Mindful Healthy Life, and providing other assistance to the conference.
Jessica Claire Haney has been in awe of Pleasance Silicki and Michelle Kelsey Mitchell for years. Both have spoken to the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network that Jessica founded in 2009, and she’s thrilled they are putting on this conference. See the companion piece to this article with more about the two organizers as moms, can be found at Jessica’s new online resource site for DC-area families interested in natural living and holistic parenting, Mindful Healthy Life.