Susan Verde is an author, yoga instructor, mindfulness teacher for kids and a living example of living the yoga practice with the spirit of that inner child. With all the energy she gets from the littlest ones, she transmits the sense of wonder to children and adults alike through the various books she’s written. In these books, she validates the unique experiences of children and she hopes that they allow them to see themselves and their perspectives in the characters and stories.

At BookYogaRetreats.com, we’re fortunate enough to have interviewed Susan and learn a bit more about her fabulous work. We talked about many topics, from how yoga has been a very important factor in the things she’s achieved, to some tips for writers and even how to deal with politics with your children. Read on and get captivated by her fascinating mind!

 

What influence does yoga have on you when you write?

Yoga completely influences my writing. To me, yoga is about showing up. It’s about rolling out your mat no matter how you feel. It’s about challenge and self care. It’s about prana (life force) and energy. Some days, the practice is easy and some days more difficult, but regardless, you find self-acceptance as you pay attention to the process. Yoga is something that is always inside of me. I approach writing the same way I do my yoga practice.

Writing is a process and a practice. Sometimes the words and ideas flow, and sometimes creativity can feel stagnant and stuck. But when you are a writer, you write, it’s in you. You show up, sit down and “put pen to paper” or fingers to keyboard. You meet yourself where you are, and focus on the process and not the outcome, and stay true to your voice.  

  susan verde playing

Image credit: Susan Verde

 

Which of your books has been your favorite to write and why?

    That’s a hard one to answer. It’s like asking who is my favorite child. I love them all equally but differently. So far all of them have been wonderful to write as they have each captured and validated the experiences of children big and small. I Am Yoga was particularly fun to write as I loved being able to share how yoga makes us feel inside and of course the incredible illustrations by Peter H Reynolds brought all of those feelings to life with such beauty.

i am yoga book

Image credit: Susan Verde

 

What’s your advice to writers who might also find inspiration in yoga?

My only advice would be to let your yoga inform your writing through breath and clarity of mind and NO judgment.

 

What are the advantages of starting yoga at a young age as opposed to starting as an adult?

Like anything, the earlier you begin, the more it becomes an effortless part of who you are. The tenants of yoga, the messages of compassion and care towards self and others, the mindfulness and connection to the body become a part of one’s genetic makeup the more one practices.

Yoga helps to cultivate empathy and gratitude in a non-competitive way, in addition to strengthening the body. The earlier we start introducing yoga and mindfulness through non-competitive games and activities, the more likely these habits and attitudes will continue into adulthood and the more comfortable our kids will be in their own skin. If you learn to love yourself, you can share that love with others. Having said all of that though, it is NEVER too late to start practicing.

 

Would you say it is easier for a child to be mindful and present?

It’s not always easier for a child to be mindful and present in a formal way, in particular sitting for long periods of time for meditation or even in savasana. I tell the kids I teach that savasana can be the hardest pose in yoga and when I ask them “why?" they always respond with “because it is hard to be still.” That being said, kids are naturally mindful in other ways that get lost as they get older. They have an innate sense of wonder especially when they are very little. They notice what is around them, how they are feeling and express their emotions freely without judging their experience.

Anyone who has a young child hears the questions “why?” and “how?” countless times because their child is seeing, hearing, tasting, and engaging the senses and accessing their curiosity.  So in that sense it is easier for a child to be mindful and present. I have found as kids get older and become teenagers and adults it is more challenging to be aware in the present moment and notice one’s experience without judgment. Cultivating mindfulness takes more practice at that point and takes on a more formal structured nature ultimately re-igniting the presence and wonder of a child. 

susan verde books children

Image credit: Susan Verde

 

At what point do you think people tend to lose their inner child spirit? How to keep it alive?

I feel like people lose their inner child spirit when they stop noticing and start judging themselves and others. We can keep that beginner’s mind active when we pause to look at the incredible world around us and when we don’t let fear stop us from trying and taking risks. Having an open mind, making a mess, and approaching failure as a teacher instead of using it as a way to say unkind things to ourselves can keep the child within alive and kicking. Thankfully, there are many “big kids” out there who still find joy and don’t take themselves too seriously.

susan verde signing yoga book

Image credit: Susan Verde

 

How to explain to a kid the reasons behind Trump’s victory in the US Elections?

This has been a hard series of conversations that I am sure will continue over the next 4 years. In my own family, my children have expressed a great deal of fear and anxiety about what the future holds and how this election could have unfolded the way it did.

I think the best that I can do is to tell them that the United States is still a country full of people who love and accept each other. There is still more light than dark and historically the light shines through, and it will continue. I have told my own children that as individuals it is important to be this light and to love and honor all people and show kindness and compassion and protection to those who need it. Explaining the “why” is difficult but providing examples of times in history when people have stood up against oppression and prevailed, and letting kids know that there are those who will stand up for their rights and safety, and that they have the power to do the same will help ease their fears. The most important thing is to keep talking and loving.


Visit Susan’s website and get to know her fantastic work. Or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to become a yoga teacher for children? BookYogaRetreats.com has the best yoga teacher trainings for kids on the web!