If you’re looking for Shining Kids Yoga, you won’t find it on Google Maps. The Washington FAMILY Best for Families 2020 “Best Children’s Yoga Classes” winner doesn’t have a studio or a storefront. Instead, Shining Kids Yoga provides yoga enrichment programming at elementary schools, preschools and daycare centers across Montgomery County, Maryland. It also offers online classes, a necessary addition during the pandemic.
“Yoga doesn’t just happen in a yoga studio, and it isn’t just for flexible or athletic people,” says Andrea Creel, founder of Shining Kids Yoga. “It can be adapted to meet the needs of all people in all places.”
Creel, who lives in Rockville with her son Quinn, 13, teaches 20 kids yoga classes a week. But as a business owner, her responsibilities don’t end when she rolls up her yoga mat.
“I wear many hats as part of my job,” she says. “I also create class schedules, hire and train instructors, manage registrations, coordinate with school administrators and PTAs and handle our social media accounts.”
Washington FAMILY spoke to Creel about the benefits of yoga and the highs and lows of being a mom entrepreneur.
When did you decide to start Shining Kids Yoga, and how has your business grown over the years?
Shining Kids Yoga began in 2014 when I started teaching after-school yoga classes at my son’s elementary school in Rockville. The class was so popular that I started to hear from other schools and PTAs that wanted yoga classes to be a part of their after-school enrichment programs. Eventually, there were so many schools interested in after-school yoga programming that I hired additional teachers and Shining Kids Yoga really started to expand!
In 2019, I created the Shining Kids Yoga Teacher Training Program to guide a new generation of kids yoga teachers. And this year, I released my first yoga book for kids, “Mystery Pose: A Yoga Guessing Game,” and created several yoga card games so that kids could have fun practicing yoga at home and with friends. I love finding new ways to help children experience the joys and benefits of yoga.
What are some of those benefits?
Oh, there are so many! Benefits of yoga include increased focus and concentration, self-awareness, self-acceptance, strength, flexibility and emotional self-regulation. As with most things, the more frequently a child practices yoga, the greater the benefits. However, even a few minutes per day or one class per week makes a difference.
Does your son enjoy yoga, too?
He does like yoga! When he was younger, he practiced yoga with me and attended a lot of my yoga classes and events. Now that he’s a teenager, he’s more focused on his own interests and activities, like art, theater and video games. I love watching him perform onstage and exploring his talents and passions.
We also like exploring new towns and places nearby. Somehow many of our explorations end with us finding new ice cream shops like Rocky Point Creamery in Point of Rocks and Woodbourne Creamery in Mount Airy.
What are some of the challenges of being a mother and a business owner?
Being a business owner often means working odd hours, always being “on the clock” and always having something else that needs to be done. As is a common experience for many parents, I sometimes stay up late to finish everything, but I try to remember to set aside time to do fun things together with my son and take a break from work because there’s always something more that could be done.
Of course, there are many benefits, too. One benefit that has been really meaningful to me is that I have been able to carve out time in my schedule to volunteer at my son’s school, and I have been very active with the PTA. If I was working a traditional 9-5 job, I don’t know that I would have had the flexibility to do this. Childhood goes by so quickly, and it has been important to me to have this ability to play an active role at my son’s school and be there when he needs me.
Do you have a mantra?
“You are whole, perfect, and complete exactly as you are.” I tell this to my adult and child yoga students, and I remind myself of this, too.