Yogiful is focused on providing exciting and conscious content to kids and parents. We want kids to be outside, but when they aren’t we want them to have access to conscious content.
Our goal at Yogiful is to create a revolution in the mindset of our kids that will have ripping effects to everyone they meet. Our content is focused on providing tools that will help kids self cope with everyday emotions and feelings in a mindful way.
FMZ: How can practicing yoga during our developmental years help us become better people when we grow older?
LAUREN: Practicing yoga & mindfulness during the developmental years has tremendous impact as children turn into teenagers and adults. It is important to say that many studies have/are being conducted as to scientifically what this looks like. A great reference for this is the AMRA (America Mindfulness Research Association). I will speak from my personal experience. We are constantly telling children to ‘focus’. I know I was told this more times than I care to count. But we rarely explain to children HOW to focus and what we can do to practice this challenging skill. Just like learning math, english, science, and art, we must also spark the joy of learning social-emotional management skills. Creating compassionate and empathetic children that observe and feel their emotions leads to compassionate empathetic adults who can also feel their emotions non-judgmentally. Children can and ARE making a difference, look at Greta Thunberg, Autumn Peltier, and Malala Yousafzai. At Yogiful our goal is to foster a new wave of mindful leaders, starting with our youth. For more information visit our website www.yogiful.net
FMZ: How do you encourage play in adults and what changes have you seen in people as they choose to play more?
LAUREN: Encouraging play in adults is one of my favorite past-times! I encourage adults to play in whatever way feels the most comfortable and the most fun. Play comes in many forms; dance, art, physical movement, cooking, eating, hiking, rolling around, and of course playing games. My personal favorite to both play and teach is AcroYoga. This has been a way for me to play with complete strangers in a fun, exhilarating, consensual, and compassionate way that focuses on the use of conscious communication. I have many students who come to my classes regularly and I have noticed a few shifts. In the beginning, they are typically shy, not sure what to expect, and sometimes weirded out. After a few classes they grow confidence in their abilities, strength, and their communication becomes slower, more patient, and more clear. I also play silly kids yoga games in the beginning of every class and this allows them to get weird together before we do any acroyoga. This helps to break the ice of nervousness. Did I mention that AcroYoga is an incredible workout, without feeling like it is a workout? Come have a play date with strangers!
FMZ: Do you teach or offer family class? What about practicing as a family can bring us closer together?
LAUREN: I do offer private family classes. I create custom plans focusing on topics of interest that are fun for everyone. My main offerings are Beyond Babysitting and after school yoga series. Practicing together as a family is a beautiful way to grow bonds, understand each other, and most importantly see each other’s imperfections. Children don’t want perfect parents, they want real parents. Embodying practices without encouraging kids to join can create a ‘special space’ for parents. Children will likely want to join along because they want to be like YOU, not because you asked. This allows them to come up with the idea of joining on their own.
FMZ: What are some common activities you recommend for anyone trying to look through that “child’s eye”?
LAUREN: Children look at even the most mundane things with amazement, joy, vulnerability, and authenticity. As adults grow older, we sometimes lose our sense of play. Getting on the level of your child, being extremely present, doing what they do, and showing an interest in what they enjoy is a great way to look through their eyes. I like to play a simple game I made up called ‘Child’s Eye’. Go outside with your child. Be extremely over-expressive with every little thing you see, feel, hear, and smell. Scream, laugh, jump up and down at every little thing that you would otherwise overlook. Children love to join in and be expressive as well. This is a great way to explore your senses together. The weirder you are, the more they love it. Try to ‘out-weird’ your kid.
The Joshua School is committed to helping each individual with autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities attain the highest quality of life, valuing each unique mind, body and spirit.
FMZ: What inspired Everything is Connected? Why did you choose this message (connection) and medium (book)?
JASON: I think kids often wonder about their connection to things they can’t see. Why, for example, should we care about someone who lives in Syria? the coral reefs in Australia? or a dog in China? And the answer is because everything is connected. When you start tugging at that string and experiencing that as a reality, it becomes more difficult to ignore the impact we have on this planet and on each other. As far as the format, I’ve always loved children’s picture books. There is something very personal and universal about holding a book and engaging with it. It happens all over the world and I find that beautiful; it reminds ME of my connection to everything and everyone.
FMZ: What were some key moments in your life that helped you develop your wide lens of the world?
JASON: I think one of the key experiences was opening and directing The Joshua School, a school for children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disorders, here in Denver. People with autism experience the world in a very unique way. Through seeing the world through their eyes, it became clear how made up everything is: rules, laws, manners, communication, social skills, etc. We all wake up every day and just agree to the same social constructs. But what if we woke up and agreed to something different? What if we regularly challenged and questioned the way things were done? It’s something I’ll never be able to un-realize at this point and my whole view of the world changed because of these incredible kids.
FMZ: What is your background with tarot and what influenced you to publish two books about the subject?
JASON: I’ve always loved tarot, and when my husband and I went on vacation to Mexico and he decided that he wanted to paint a tarot deck, I became a LOT more intimate with the origin, history, and breadth of tarot. The goal was to re-envision the images, writing, and design of the classic Ryder-Waite tarot — giving it a contemporary feel and relatability — while preserving the essence of the original. Two years later, The Fountain Tarot was successfully Kickstarted, and in 2016 Shambhala Publications began publishing the deck. The Fountain Tarot Journal came out the following year. I’m always interested in tools that unlock people’s potential, give us new views, and connect us to the spiritual, and tarot is one of the most personal and effective tools like this out there. It always surprises me with its seemingly magical accuracy! Tarot makes a difference in people’s lives and it’s something I feel very honored to have been a part of creating.
FMZ: Do you have any projects you are excited about working on at the moment?
JASON: Too many to name them all! But a few very exciting projects are:
- Our Animal Neighbors – a collaboration with the Buddhist monk (and the Dalai Lama’s French interpreter), Matthieu Ricard, about all the things we have in common with our animal neighbors. It’s a book about seeing and honoring the experiences of animals on this planet. (Shambhala Publications, 2020)
- Clyfford Still – I’ve been working with the Clyfford Still Museum to create the first children’s book about the radical and brilliant artist, Clyfford Still.
- Everybody Knows What a Tree Is! – a book about seeing the wonder in things for their own sake, not just for what we can know about them.
Drew Jared Irwin
Unconventional, humanitarian, cool, emotionally detached, friendly, creative, communicator, original, fellowship, group-conscious, demonstrative, amicable, dynamic, exploratory, benevolent, purposeful, idealistic, redemptive, investigative, valuable, talented, resourceful, honorable, nourishing, counsel
FMZ: What experiences have you had that inspired you to bring youth into nature?
DREW: My Father and his friend created something noble called The Manly Campout. In some shape or form, it still goes on today. It is based on concepts of how to influence young men into manhood.
FMZ: What is it about nature that helps understand ourselves?
DREW: I don’t know. So experiment. Here are some ideas.
Nature is the wisest teacher. The world is the schoolhouse. The heavens are the roof. We are on a ball revolving around the sun, the sun is revolving around something much larger. We are one family. The life around us is our brothers and sisters. So we have to figure out how to live together. There is a purpose to life. We are put here to learn. Our destiny is to grow.
Have you checked out the Ten Bulls of Zen, Story of the Taoist Farmer, and The Parable of the Sower? Observing the cycles of the seasons and a healthy garden help us understand that change is the only constant. Know native herbs and how they can be used medicinally.
FMZ: How did you get your start in youth education?
DREW: Natural Helpers Program Upper Saint Clair High School, PA.
FMZ: Did you always know this was your calling?
DREW: I don’t know. I feel called to life in general. My peers, coworkers, and participants are the ones who tell me I am good at it.
FMZ: Can you briefly explain “challenge by choice”
DREW: Principles of learning and growth; to have fun and safely navigate the harsh realities, truths, and extremes of life. And why is it so important to education? It aids in developing rational courage.
FMZ: What is the best way of understanding ourselves?
DREW: I don’t know. Liberty of an open mind. Think in terms of solutions and serendipity. Accept challenges to grow and do your best. Build upon peace, love, and forgiveness. Quietude, study, and discipline. Personal integrity, ethics, moral codes. Learning good, thinking straight, being cool. Doing right, living truth, self-reliance. Faith, Hope, and Charity. Responsibility, do what is necessary, seek maturity, and the power attained through helping. Keeping to the rules, making self-sacrifices for others, investing in what you believe in. Kindness, equality, generosity. Traveling, cross-cultural studies, comparative religion. Seek truth, advice, and counsel from the greats who have withstood the tests of time. Reflecting at the end of each day.
FMZ: Do you think tests like Myers Briggs are helpful tools?
DREW: I don’t know. Will have to check that out. Have you checked out the The Yi Jing? Or do you think experience is the best way to understanding? Experience in the light of infinite love. It allows you to correct your mistakes. Outside the realm of grace and love, experiences are harsh and unforgiving. I am eternally indebted to the mysteries of infinite love and grace.