Play Date: Cosmic Kids Yoga
Meet Jaime and Martin Amor, creators of the Youtube sensation that teaches kids yoga through storytelling, including fun themes like 'Star Wars'
Meet Jaime and Martin Amor, the amazing founders of Cosmic Kids Yoga. Their yoga stories on YouTube — which combine popular themes like Star Wars and unicorns — mesmerize children all over the world. In fact, when I asked my 5-year-old if he had any questions for Jaime, he just said, “Tell her to never stop making the videos — not ever!” Now, that's an endorsement.
You’re, arguably, the most popular kids yoga teacher in the world! How did that happen?
By sharing our videos free on YouTube we’ve made it possible for kids to do yoga whenever they want. We’ve made lots of content too so there’s loads to choose from. Teachers have also discovered us and use our videos in the classroom and gym for indoor recess, brain breaks and to make sure kids are getting their required quota of daily physical activity — and they've told us that kids go home to their parents asking if they can do yoga. We're amazed that since we posted our first video we’ve had nearly five million views!
Why yoga for kids? What does yoga offer over more traditional sports or activities?
Yoga isn't competitive but it is challenging. Like many sports, it's an excellent workout for balance, strength and coordination — but in yoga it's hard to know who's the "best," so everyone just gets on with having their own experience.
Yoga is a great companion to sports. I've taught kids who had lost confidence in their "sportiness," but, through yoga, developed a new sense of strength and coordination. Yoga also aids in preventing injury and can even extend athletic careers!
In a kids' yoga class, there is also a focus on emotions. We build awareness of what's going on in our bodies as we breathe into the poses and we bring attention to our feelings. We also use stories to explore issues like dealing with bullies and learning to share. It helps kids learn to deal with stress, negativity and challenges. These are tools they'll use for a lifetime.
I hear some kids get really obsessed with Cosmic Kids Yoga (I know my kids are)– why do you think that is?
They love the stories. We work hard to make sure our yoga stories are full of great characters, funny moments and relevant ideas that kids can relate to. Also the yoga is deliberately quite challenging and each time the kids do it they gain a bit more confidence in themselves, they get stronger and better at it.
You’ve never made a TV show before, and you don’t have big budgets. How do you make Cosmic Kids happen?
To get started we made a really basic episode — putting up a homemade green screen in our village sports and social club, doing a "rough key" (where you cut someone out of the green screen) and putting me (Jaime) on a random background. Then we posted it to see if anyone liked it! That was Squish the Fish. It’s now had nearly a million views!
We keep our costs low by having a small team of very talented and lovely people who enjoy making Cosmic Kids. We also offer popular online training and resources for kids' yoga teachers – class plans and downloadable books.
Our episodes have become more technically advanced in the last 18 months. Our friend Dylan creates awesome backgrounds and our immensely talented camera and editing chief, Konrad makes those backgrounds look like cool 3D worlds. Now Martin arranges and composes soundtracks to add a whole new dimension to the stories and Nick illustrates and animates our happy band of characters to demonstrate yoga and give the kids a deeper connection to the stories.
I continue to write the stories and make sure they work first by teaching them in my regular classes. So when it comes to filming I’m rehearsed, ready to don the onesie and present as best as I can.
Tell me about that pink onesie? It seems to have become your signature look.
When we decided to film the yoga stories, we wanted it to look fun, comfortable and approachable. It had to be bright and colorful and I was keen for it not to be all figure-hugging lycra. The onesie was just beginning to trend with lots of teens, boy bands and students wearing them and I thought, why not?! It allows me to move, it’s super comfy, it’s cool and it’s bright pink! We’ve just decided to adapt the onesie so I now wear a bright blue one with patches of all our characters on the sleeves. I wanted to get more of a superhero feel into it to reflect the kids being yoga heroes in our stories.
What was your first experience with yoga?
In the 1980’s my mum was an aerobics instructor and I remember her having this book called The Book of Yoga from the Sivananda Yoga Centre. I still have it today! It is full of beautiful photos and pencil drawings of the poses (with the yogi’s all wearing brilliant 1980’s leotards and tracksuits!) and I loved trying to copy them when I was little.
How did you become interested in teaching yoga to children?
I trained as an actress and in between acting jobs I worked as a children's entertainer. Storytelling would always feature in my work where I would usually be a fairy or a princess in full costume. I often told a story about a witch with a cat and a cauldron, and I found that if I had the kids physically act it out with me, they would be much more engaged. I would often use yoga poses to represent the elements of the story. It grew from there. As I practiced yoga more regularly, I had more poses to use in my stories. I started to notice how yoga was helping me find more balance mentally and emotionally, and thought how amazing it would be to give kids some of this understanding — how it might help them deal with their feelings in the moment and as they go through childhood.
Do you have a favorite episode of Cosmic Kids Yoga?
That’s a tough question! I think at the moment it’s Popcorn the Dolphin. I love the range of poses in the story, there are some wonderful characters and the message is so clear and helpful for kids and grownups: Stay calm, keep breathing and think positive!
My 7-year-old wants to know if you take requests for storylines?
Yes! Please. I love hearing ideas for new stories. In my regular classes, it was the kids’ idea that I do a yoga story based on Star Wars and that has been a huge hit on YouTube. They are also now requesting a Minecraft and a Frozen one too!