Little Feet Don’t Stink! by Kelley Daya Gallop
Little girl: “Someone’s feet stink!”
Me: “Really! Whose? Maybe mine since they are dirty from walking around the gym.”
Little girl: “Yep, it’s your feet.”
Me: “Ya think so?”
Little girl: “Yep, little feet don’t stink.”
Years ago I had the weekly joy of teaching an after-school children’s yoga class at a local recreation center. I taught approximately 50 students ranging from 5 to 10 year olds (of course with assistance from their regular caregivers).
When I say “taught”, I really mean…I corralled; I shepherded.
I was a herder. Occasionally, in unison but, mostly, free-form modern dance-y.
They were unfiltered and honest to a fault. They were also natural yogis. You see…children don’t actually have bones until they are 12 years old (totally my observation and not scientifically proven…yet) and as any yogi should, they saw joy in everything we did in class.
No matter how bad my day was going, they made me smile a big, huge, toothy, goofy smile.
A real smile.
Not the adult-world fake smile…you know the kind I’m talking about.
An honest smile.
They made yoga fun! They laughed. They were loud. They raised a raucous! However, their caregivers always wanted them to be quiet (they lost that battle quickly with 50 small children in an echoing gym). After all, it’s yoga…and yoga is quiet or at least the proverbial “they” say yoga is quiet.
Whoever mandated that yoga must be quiet to be beneficial? Maybe it was originally quiet because the ascetics didn’t have any friends to raise some hell with! Maybe they didn’t want to be quiet; maybe they were just lonely.
Children, on the other hand, are never lonely in a yoga class. They are never afraid to touch each other’s feet in a shared boat pose, wrap their arms around each other for a joint tree pose, or lay in a big flower pattern touching heads in Savasana.
There is something to be said for the loud communal nature of children. Where is the point along the way to maturity that we lose that sense of community? When do our brains and hearts shift making isolation the ideal?
According to, the great book of “knowledge”, Wikipedia:
“Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace. The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali defines yoga as ‘the stilling of the changing states of the mind.’ Yoga has also been popularly defined as ‘union with the divine’ in other contexts and traditions.”
So if children are loud and rambunctious can their minds be still and are they uniting with the divine? Absolutely!!!
Children do yoga with no preconceived ideas, no biases, and no judgment. They are free in their bodies and free with each other. Children don’t bring the emotional walls and barriers that isolate…that break down community…to the yoga mat.
They are just there in the moment-totally and completely free.
That is peace of mind and spirit. That is union with the divine. That is yoga.
Like I said–natural yogis.
My little gurus taught me that permanent peace takes many forms and sometimes it looks more like Burning Man than it does a monastery. Note: Not advocating raging fires for children…but 5-10 year olds are definitely into those too.
So the next time you are in a yoga class…be free; be present; smile; laugh. Make some Savasana flowers with your new friends, cheer someone on with encouragement and take notice of the stinky feet.