Rachelle Gibbs offers mindfulness practices for kids
Rachelle Gibbs has always loved working with children, so when she dove into wellness and yoga coaching it was only natural for her to focus on programs for children and youth.
Under the brand Rachelle and Kids, Gibbs offers mindful programming specifically created to address the complex and ever-changing thoughts, feelings and behaviours of children.
She says she doesn’t just see her young clients as “future citizens.”
“They’re actively citizens existing in the world right now.”
In order to successfully develop programming for these active citizens, Gibbs says it’s important to have “a really good view of children.” That means being able to see them as they are, now.
“And they have a right to play, and they have a right to express themselves and they have a right to childhood. Often people think of children as being future adults. What are they going to be, what are they going to do in the future?”
But honouring their childhood and honouring the feelings that come up now is also very important, she says.
“Who they choose to express themselves as right now, I advocate for that … They’re not just cute, they're not just cuddly. They're incredible, awesome, funny beings, and when we give them the space to express themselves, we get to see that.”
Right now, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, she is offering virtual kids and virtual youth yoga classes. And though she says she misses being able to interact with her students face to face, it’s been nice to reach families across Ontario that she normally wouldn’t have been able to.
Gibbs says she is constantly developing new ways to add creativity and expression into her sessions. Though admittedly she says it’s a bit tougher with online classes. Normally, she uses different tools to help young yogis still their minds and come to that place of calm, such as incorporating colouring pages where students can colour or draw their favourite poses, for example.
“At the beginning we tune in, so finding your breath and developing that inner awareness. What do you feel, what emotions are you feeling right now? Just doing that check in with the body.”
And through many different breathing tools, she says she helps students find their way to the space. As it can sometimes be difficult for children to be still in the moment for extended periods of time, she says she incorporates movement early on during her sessions. She aims to adapt her classes for the needs of each student.
“At the end when we’re doing a relaxation I try to incorporate a kid-friendly version of a body scan, so tightening and releasing kind of work.”
Gibbs also offers mindful coaching and training resources to inspire wellness in the personal and professional lives of those who nurture children.
“So, people who work with kids and families, mindfulness for parents, and then children and youth, so having the kid’s yoga and mindfulness.”
She wants to broaden the workshops she offers, some for older teens, with a possibility of bringing in a coaching mindfulness element for teens and youth as well, she says.
“In the long term, maybe doing mindfulness workshops with parents, and learning how to bring mindfulness into your family. And the bigger work of working with the people who work with kids.”
She says she witnessed a lot of educators burnt out with little support during her time as an early childhood educator.
“I think (I’d like to) create that space where educators can focus on wellness.”
“There’s a lot of professional development for the classroom and program planning, there’s so many resources out there for that kind of thing. But to be able to come somewhere and focus on all the aspects of the educator and helping them find that wellness. That’s one of my big goals right now.”
Mindfulness means many different things to many different people, she says.
But for her, it’s about being able to tune in.
“To having that self-awareness in that moment. Listening to your body and intuition to make the next right choice.”
“So, whether it’s choosing to go for a walk, or choosing to have a dance party. Whether it’s getting still and meditating. Deciding I need to eat something. I need to nourish my body. I would say mindfulness is so many different things to so many different people, but it's having that ability to discern what the next right thing is for you.”
Now, Gibbs is continuing to offer her virtual classes and will start up in-person classes again when restrictions ease up. Her schedule and more about what she’s all about can be found on her website Rachelleandkids.com.
Gibbs will also be contributing to Mindful Niagara, offering articles on youth wellness and mindfulness. Check back for her contributions and follow her latest endeavours via her Facebook and Instagram accounts.