From Paper Napkins to Yawning Yoga: Q&A with Laurie Jordan

We are pleased to have Laurie Jordan as a member of our Authors Circle at next month’s Scribbles to Novels gala in New York. Laurie’s new book, Yawning Yoga, is currently number one on Amazon’s list of “Hot New Releases” in children’s fitness. But, as Laurie explains in the blog post below, Yawning Yoga is about much more than fitness, making Laurie’s work a great pair with Jumpstart’s mission of helping all children develop the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

What inspired you to write to Yawning Yoga? 

Yawning Yoga is based on my bedtime yoga series of the same name. I developed this “Yawning Yoga” sequence while working as a school social worker to help over-stimulated, over-stressed, and overwhelmed children enjoy a good night’s sleep and, ultimately, greater school success.

Was there one particular case during your time as a social worker that inspired the yoga series?

I can’t pinpoint any one particular case that stands out as being the inspiration. Instead, there was an overarching theme that kept presenting itself: kids were experiencing stress and they were having a hard time managing it. My goal was to provide kids with simple strategies to calm and soothe themselves in any situation. I quickly discovered that I was much better at teaching yoga and mindfulness to kids than I was at being a social worker. So I parlayed this experience into a full time gig teaching yoga to children.

This was almost 15 years ago — and Yawning Yoga has since evolved into school programs, workshops, trainings, and a book!  And all of it has brought me a tremendous amount of joy.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?  

Nothing beats jotting down ideas on a paper napkin!

There has always been a part of me that wanted to be a writer. As a kid, I would walk around the block distributing my weekly hand-written newsletter. It had an advice column, recipes, reviews, and neighborhood news. It usually ended up at the bottom of some kids’ hamster cage, but I kept it up for a good while. In high school, I filled notebooks with poems dedicated to boyfriends, and in college, I took creative writing classes.

As a children’s yoga teacher, I created short and simple rhymes describing different yoga poses, breathing exercises, and mindfulness techniques that kids could easily remember and use to instill a sense of inner peace, anytime and anywhere. These rhymes became the basis for Yawning Yoga.

The Jumpstart curriculum centers around books, but it’s not just about reading — just as important is giving the children in our classrooms the opportunity to develop relationships with caring adults through reading and doing activities together.

What’s most wonderful about Yawning Yoga is that it offers parents and guardians the opportunity to positively interact and bond with their children before bedtime. Not only will it help relax kids and increase the quality of their sleep, but it will afford parents the same benefits.

Are there tips from Yawning Yoga that could help busy parents as well?

As if parenting weren’t hard enough, having a child with sleep problems can be exhausting! Incorporating Yawning Yoga into a child’s bedtime routine can help to shift his or her mind’s focus from being preoccupied with daily stressors to focusing on yoga postures, relaxation techniques, and breathing exercises, with the ultimate goal being a restful sleep. A sleeping child means that busy moms and dads will finally get some much needed sleep, too! Everybody wins!

Another big part of the Jumpstart curriculum is teaching social-emotional skills to help prepare children for kindergarten and beyond. Are there social-emotional lessons in Yawning Yoga?

Absolutely. The social-emotional skills are consistent with the core values of kids’ yoga: both aim to develop a child’s inner resources! By combining mindfulness techniques, breathing exercises, and balancing postures, children learn to manage their emotions, handle stress, control impulses, and develop self-confidence. These techniques help create a balance between body and mind, and produce an overall sense of well-being by giving children the tools to self-regulate, take care of themselves, and, ultimately, feel good about themselves.

Sylvester and the Magic PebbleWhat was your favorite bedtime book as child?

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. I loved this book for two main reasons: 1. It made me feel such a range of emotions, especially empathy for Sylvester and his family. 2. I have such a vivid memory of picking this book out at the library and then reading it on my mother’s lap. I loved the book so much we racked up a big late fee because I wouldn’t let my mother return it!

You can meet Laurie Jordan – along with the rest of our featured authors, including Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Adele Griffin, Susan Rieger, David Carnoy, and Charles Bock – and receive a signed copy of Yawning Yoga at the Scribbles to Novels gala in New York on April 19th. Click here to learn more.

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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