As an Elementary School Teacher for the past 25 years, Alice Zorthian has had to stick to a structured curriculum.
In her Kid’s Yoga classes at Shree however, her sense of wonder and spontaneous approach is what keeps the kids interested and their parents bringing them back week after week.
Except for a six-year period (when she returned to LA) Alice has lived in Taos for the past 25 years, but growing up in Southern California, she was always around children, as her parents had a camp for kids.
“I grew up around a lot of kids,” she told me when we met for tea at Manzanita Market recently, “so I’m really comfortable with them, especially after teaching for so long!”
In fact it was during her pregnancy with her daughter in 1995, that Alice began her own Yoga Practice, which she started after a friend told her it might help with issues she was having at the time.
She discovered that the holistic nature of Yoga which encompasses the mind, body and soul resonated deeply, and that everything in her life began to improve. After years of Practice, she finally took her 200 hour teacher training in 2014 at AuraFitness with Aura Garver and Ashleigh Beyer. Her teaching style is flow based, with an emphasis on proper alignment.
With a background in Theatre, Alice brings a playful spirit to her classes with the kids. “I definitely include a lot of (theatre) games, the point of these classes is to fully engage the children and make Yoga fun – something they look forward to.”
I asked her how she sees Yoga affecting the kids over time. I wondered if it spilled over into the rest of their lives.
“Oh yes,” she said, it’s really beneficial to them, it helps with body awareness, stress management and improves their concentration.” She told me that a few of the kids come weekly, others are drop-ins, often visiting from elsewhere and her classes can range from 3 kids to 12.
Her approach is both open and inclusive. “I engage them via their imagination by having them create poses as well,” she explained, “and they come up with some really funny stuff, like the “dead bug” pose and the “pencil” pose.” She laughed. “But ultimately they are breathing and stretching and getting some exercise as opposed to sitting around on technology for another hour.”
I wondered if this was the only exercise these kids were getting but Alice assured me that wasn’t the case.
“They do other things,” she explained. “Some do gymnastics, others ballet and others play sports of various kinds, but yoga supports all that as well.”
“Besides, ” she noted, “it’s non-competitive, so it challenges them physically in a different way than they are perhaps used to.”
It’s clear that the fun and spontaneity she and the kids experience in the studio is generated in no small part by her own warm and generous nature. That along with her improvisational ability (thanks to her theatrical training), and natural curiosity creates a Wonderland which keeps the kids coming back for more. With her daughter out of the nest and following her own (musical) dreams on the West Coast, Alice says she cherishes her time with the kids and it’s evident her Kids Yoga Class is indeed a labour of love.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
― Lewis Carroll,
For more on Alice’s classes at Shree Yoga Taos, please visit their site linked below this post.
All photos c/o Alice Zorthian