Kids Yoga. Teen Yoga. Yoga Therapy.
Danielle teaches our Kids Yoga Classes, and will start Teen Yoga Classes in September.
How did you first get involved in working with kids? Did you always know you would do this kind of work?
I have always been passionate about working with special needs children.
When I was in middle school, I began volunteering at Special Olympics because my cousin was a participant. Over the years, I volunteered with therapeutic horseback riding, became trained as a DIR/Floortime companion for a child with autism and taught swim lessons to children with special needs.
These experiences encouraged me to pursue a career as a pediatric occupational therapist (OT).
Currently, I am an OT at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. The little ones I work with teach me about the many blessings life has to offer, to appreciate the simple joys in your day and even on sad days, you can always find a reason to smile. I feel so fortunate to encounter such amazing kids daily and I absolutely love my job!
How did you get interested in yoga therapy?
I became interested in yoga therapy after working as an OT. I wanted to provide my little patients with fun exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles and offer self- regulation techniques to improve emotional health. I attended a continuing education course for therapists wanting to use yoga in the rehabilitation setting. At this course I was introduced to yoga therapy.
Something clicked inside me and I knew this was the path I wanted/needed to take. I am currently training to become a yoga therapist through the Yoga Center of Jackson in Jackson, TN. I will be trained to treat an array of medical issues affecting adults and children.
Future career plans include opening a clinic that would offer yoga therapy, hippotherapy (therapy utilizing horses) and swimming. Becoming a yoga therapist is just one part of my ultimate goal!
What is your favorite thing about Memphis? One of my favorite things about Memphis is the “southern charm”. I am originally from Cleveland Ohio, and up north, not everyone is open to chatting. I always smile at random people and make small talk with strangers. In Memphis, I can talk to anybody and it is completely acceptable!
What do you like to do when you are not working? When I am not working, I enjoy running, dancing, singing karaoke, reading and of course doing yoga! I also love cooking. I am Italian and homemade lasagna is my specialty. I must admit, my fettuccini and tomato sauce are rather delicious, too!
What has surprised you the most about teaching yoga to kids? Do you have any favorite yoga kid-teen stories you can share? I am constantly amazed at the transformation that can happen in children and teens that practice yoga. The transformations can sometimes seem immediate because young people are extremely responsive to the teachings of yoga.
One of the most amazing transformations I have witnessed was with a 6 year old little girl. She had difficulty regulating her emotions and was acting out at school, misbehaving at home and sometimes physically hurting her peers.
I focused on teaching self-awareness, acceptance, and educated her on various breathing techniques. About a month later, teachers reported a positive change in her behavior, she was beginning to make friends at school and she was implementing the breathing and self-awareness techniques in many situations. Most importantly, she had an increase in self confidence.
Before every session she would beam with pride when she told me how many times she performed her exercises that week. This little girl is only one of many examples I have that demonstrate how yoga can generate positive change in young people’s lives.
Danielle is currently taking appointments for one-on-one sessions with kids and teens.
In January 2014, her practice at EYC will expand to include weekly kids and teens classes. And she will begin accepting appointments with adults for one-on-one yoga therapy sessions.
Danielle is pictured above with Kiera – who styled her hair for this picture! And below, back-to-back with Grace!