Desert Ridge mom Stephanie Perlman-Garcia channels the energy she once used recruiting game show contestants through onstage events into creatively engaging children in her Kaya Kidz classes.
What is Kaya Kidz?
It’s a mobile yoga and fitness fun class that keeps little minds and bodies active. I use yoga and fitness combined with music and interactive games. I try to be as super creative as I can and use a lot of imagination to get the kids to actually think and get minds and bodies working.
Children are such a gift. We have to keep them healthy and teach them to be active. Most of the time in my classes they don’t even realize they’re doing yoga but it calms their minds down and stretches their bodies.
The most important thing about the class I think is to develop children’s concentration, which helps them think creatively. We also talk about respect a lot, listening to each other, not talking over each other, being kind to each other and that everybody’s equal. That’s a really important part of what we learn in Kaya Kids.
How did Kaya Kidz get its start?
I’ve always had a passion for health and fitness and I’ve always worked out and done yoga. As a mom myself, I saw how important it is as my kids get older to keep them active. It is so easy to eat unhealthy and to spend too much time on computers and video games. This is such a great program, it teaches kids to want to feel good inside mentally and physically.
There are so many kids’ classes out there. As a mom we did all those mommy-and-me classes and I would think, the kids would totally respond to me better than these people. They don’t have any energy!
So, I put together this cool program, took some training classes and taught my first class to the preschool kids at a homeless shelter, Homeward Bound. Those kids were so ready for yoga. They have so much going on in their minds and in their hearts and I saw how they just let it go using their imaginations and how much of an impact it had on them. I still go there. Those kids need it so badly. I owe a lot to the Homeward Bound preschool because that’s where I got my start. Now I teach at community centers, preschools and elementary schools all over the Valley but I always go back there.
What’s the best part of what you do?
The best part, for me is just being with all the kids. I love kids so much. They are so pure. I love to hear what’s on their minds and see them express themselves. It’s such a joy! Kids are shushed so much so I like to let them tell me what’s important in their lives and let them express themselves, body and mind. Amazing to hear what they think about.
“Kaya” is Sanskrit for “pure of body and mind.” Kids have the most kaya of anybody, they are so clean. It’s so cool for us to see. One of the other best parts is watching kids find balance, like the first time they can hold tree pose. They are learning to focus their minds and do something new. As our weeks go by together I see them grow and get better.
We always finish with a resting pose, savasana. I call it the “do nothing” pose. The kids love it! Sometimes they come in and want to do that first. They look forward to that time, resting and listening to their breath. It’s amazing to see that these 3- and 5-year-olds can actually calm their bodies and minds. And it’s something they’ll take with them to elementary school, high school and even college. It’s something they’ll have forever, knowing how to calm their minds and bodies down.
Sounds like a really cool job!
It’s so fun! I can’t believe how my company has grown just since January. I’m actually looking to hire a few more people. I’m trying to train them to have the energy that I have with the kids. Actually, one of the directors of a huge preschool that I’m at had a board meeting with everyone there and they all agreed that Kaya Kidz was the best enrichment program that they offer and they wanted to know how they could have more classes to accomodate more kids!
How do you balance work and mothering?
My twins just started kindergarten so now I can arrange my schedule to work around their schedule and that’s been a huge thing for me. It’s great. That’s one of the things that inspired me to start a mobile kids class, so I could be there for them. I am involved in their school and I can be there to pick them up or bring them with me to my classes. They’re my big helpers when they do come. They’ll put the mats out and stuff. It’s like having two little assistants. They feel so important. It’s such a great mom gig…not your typical 9 to 5. My kids love it. We do it at home together anyway. That’s what started this whole thing.
Summer months are slower with school out so I took the whole month of July off with my kids and just started back in August. It’s so nice to make your own schedule and get to be with your kids and not lose any of that quality time. This time is really short if you think about it. We really only have about sixteen summers with our kids maybe even fifteen before they’ll want to go off with their friends.
What would you tell another mom with a business idea?
Follow your passion and go for it. Don’t wait around for someone to do it for you, go for it yourself. I learned to always go with my gut. If something doesn’t feel right I’m not going to call that person or I’m not going to pressure that school to take a Kaya Kidz class. Do what feels right to you. Be true to yourself and be happy.