We had the good fortune of connecting with Meghan Stegemann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meghan, how do you think about risk?
In my experience, when an opportunity scared me a little, it was the right risk to take. When I first started teaching toddler yoga it was a huge risk. I had never taught this age group before, but an adult yoga client of mine reached out because her daughter’s daycare needed a yoga teacher. I was already teaching elementary students and I’m great with kids so I said “yes!” and figured I would work out the details later. Even after all my hours of training and lesson planning that first class was a doozy! I left exhausted, but inspired to learn as much as I could about how to best teach yoga and mindfulness to pre-verbal babies and toddlers. This lead to more and more opportunities teaching this young age group and eventually became the foundation of my business. I was teaching over 200 children a week in private daycares and preschools in addition to kids enrolled in my after-school classes and private at-home family classes. Taking the risk and saying “yes, I can teach toddler yoga” changed the trajectory of my business.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from other kids yoga teachers is I teach babies and toddlers in addition to preschoolers and school-age students. When I first started out there were very few yoga teachers in this space working with pre-verbal students. It’s an entirely different animal working with students who are just getting to know their bodies and how they move in space. This age group sis also pre-verbal – meaning they are not quite speaking yet in understandable terms. This creates a challenge for yoga teachers as we are trained to teach almost entirely with verbal directions! I had to learn how to communicate with my young students in sig language, modeling yoga postures and with songs – lots of songs! I’ve learned that with babies and toddlers repetition is king – the more I repeat the same postures, breathing techniques and mindful activities – the more confident the become. As a yoga teacher, you trained to set up your students for success. By keeping my classes consistent the students are able to build confidence, they know what to expect and in turn they feel successful when they pop into a pose or move a cotton ball with their breath. I am most proud of the work I have done to share what I have learned about teaching this young age group with others. I regularly present at school wide conferences, professional development days and weekend workshops for parents. There is a growing interest in utilizing yogic techniques in the classroom not just for calm and peace, but to help students and teachers with a variety of modern day challenges. I wish the world knew that there is more going on in a yoga class for kids than just poses, games and dancing. The students are learning vital skills about not only their bodies and minds, but they are practicing skills like self-regulation, cooperation, and learning life-long social emotional skills that will help them navigate their feelings and the world as the grow older.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, I live in Chicago in Lincoln Park so the first place I would take someone is the Lakefront for a walk so they could see skyline from far away. Then, we’d have to check out some of my favorite local spots like Gambaii for Korean-Asian fusion food or Cafecito for the best Cuban sandwich in the city. I love taking out of towners on the El train through the Loop – it’s one of the best ways to see downtown up close. We’d definitely hop off and grab some Garrett’s popcorn and walk along the riverwalk and maybe even hop into a water taxi and take it to Chinatown for some ramen. One of my favorite spots to bring someone is the Chicago Athletic Association. It’s an old hotel turned into a multi-venu space that runs pop-up roller skating, bowling, a hidden cocktail lounge and super cozy fireplaces for coffee and chatting with friends.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve had a ton of support and encouragement from my amazing parents, Ellen Stegemann and Dr Riley Perry Lloyd, who have always pushed me to pursue my passions or a new interest. My amazing fiance, Ernesto Lozano is the best listener and has really pushed me to take my business and myself as a business woman more seriously. There have been a lot of inspiring yoga teachers along my path, but Hayley Jones has not only been an exceptional yoga teacher, she has also become a close friend whose advice and suggestions about life and the business of yoga resonate with me deeply.
Other: Spotify Playlists – https://open.spotify.com/user/1273701572?si=hGxNV9X4RL-o_5Rw2tKRGw
Maija Martin Photography + Films ~ Chicago, IL