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Hidden Gems: Meet Lexi Williams of The Balanced Child Method

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lexi Williams.  

Hi Lexi, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Whenever I tell people what my job is, their response is typically either, “that sounds adorable” or “that’s awesome”. Both are true. 

I’m a yoga instructor for The Balanced Child Method, which means at work I get to audibly moo and meow while stretching in cat/cow poses, watch energetic preschoolers stand tall in tree pose, help kindergarteners who are having a bad day calm their bodies and minds in savasana, and many more adorable and awesome things. 

The Balanced Child Method (TBCM) owner and founder, Amy Jo, became a new mom in 2016. 

Back then, she was working a corporate job in fashion retail and realized this was no longer her true passion. 

She re-evaluated her priorities and what motivated her and remembered the joy she felt working as a fitness instructor at The Ohio State University. She realized her true passions were now being a mother and working with children as well as health and wellness. She decided to bring these passions together. 

The spark for teaching yoga to children ignited at the beginning of her 200-hour yoga teacher training course. A friend started a childcare center and was planning on using YouTube to teach the students yoga. Amy Jo jumped at this chance. This was especially exciting because it meant she would be teaching her son, who was a student at the center. She quickly recognized that teaching children these skills, yoga, mindfulness, and breathwork, was not only fun but also extremely beneficial and important. The parents and teachers recognized it as well. From there, the idea grew, and The Balanced Child Method was born. 

Today, TBCM has 15 amazing instructors who share these passions for health, wellness, mindfulness, and love working with children. 

Every day we bring yoga not only just to childcare now, but also to schools, parks and recs, fitness studios, outdoor parks, private groups, summer camps, and more locations around Powell, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Westerville, Granville, Grandview, Delaware, Worthington, Dublin, Hilliard, and Bexley. 

Classroom Yoga, where it all began, is still a very important pillar of TBCM and one of our most popular programs. 

However, now we also have options like Family Yoga, Adult & Me Yoga, Youth/Elementary Yoga, Yoga for Athletes, Prenatal Yoga, Adult Yoga, Bedtime Yoga, Yoga & Music combo classes and we have even been working on creating a sensory-friendly class as well as a yoga program for children with special needs. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Well, TBCM got their LLC in March of 2020. Literally right before we went into lockdown. So, it wasn’t exactly a smooth start and many of Amy Jo’s original plans had to be put on hold or majorly altered. 

She offered lots of virtual options, even providing several free yoga classes on Facebook and YouTube to help keep families busy and calm while stuck at home. 

Finally, by the following year, things were beginning to look up. TBCM expanded by hiring and training more instructors and scheduling new classes and sessions… and then a new variant hit, and many schools and parks and recs put their programming on hold again. So, again we pivoted. 

We’ve tried to remain flexible and optimistic and have slowly made our way back into schools and programming around Central Ohio. We are very excited about warm weather so we can hold outdoor yoga where we can have more participants, fresh air, and sunshine. 

It has been a learning experience, but we’ve stayed motivated with the knowledge that our classes and tools are now more beneficial and needed than ever before. We hope that we can provide some calm in all this chaos to these children and their parents who have experienced so much uncertainty the last couple of years. 

We’ve been impressed with The Balanced Child Method, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I think one of the biggest things that sets us apart from other kid’s yoga programs is that TBCM teaches these tools not only to the kids but to their entire support systems. When Amy Jo started doing this, parents and teachers would say things like “My son wants to do the bedtime yoga poses that you taught him, but I don’t know what they are” or “I want to teach my child to take deep breaths instead of screaming when she’s upset but I never learned to do that myself, so I forget to do it in the moment”. 

That’s when Amy Jo realized she needed to include the support systems (parents, teachers, grandparents, caregivers) and created programs like Empowered Teacher, Empowered Parent, and Focused Family. 

I am an instructor for TBCM now, but I was introduced to the program when my son tried a class at about 3 years old. We both fell in love with it and would try to attend any time she offered pop-up classes in our area. 

My son has some special needs and gets overwhelmed easily, with lots of big emotions. The tools we learned through TBCM classes are ones I continue to use daily in our home 2.5 years later, with both him and now his sister. It took time and practice for them to really work, but we frequently use breathwork and mindfulness exercises when he’s overstimulated or on the verge of a meltdown and it has been life-changing. 

One of our other instructors recently said something like, “If I had had a program like this when I was a kid, it would have really helped me” and it really resonated with me and made me feel proud to be a part of this. 

I’m sure so many adults feel that way. If they had learned how to calm their bodies down, cope with stress in a healthy way, prioritize mindfulness, or just breathe, it would have been so beneficial to them. But now they can learn these skills with their own kids! And that’s still just as important. 

Our classes really start before children are even born, with our Prenatal Yoga program, and then Adult and Me Yoga has babies as young as three months old. One of the great things about yoga is you can really do it your whole life. We have classes all the way from infant to toddler, pre-k, K-5, middle and high school, and adults. 

Our classes are all created to suit and engage different age groups and levels. Each class has a theme with poses, a book, a mindful exercise, and songs to compliment the theme as well as, one of my favorite parts, a mantra. 

I read this article a while back that said something like 70 or 80% of an average person’s thoughts are negative, which was shocking to me. I thought of my son in that first TBCM class at three years old. 

The mantra of the class that day was, “I can do hard things”. Years later, he still utilizes that mantra while going to the dentist, joining a new sports team, or even just cleaning up the dirty clothes in his room. 

I always love when I hear the grown-ups saying the mantra of the day too. Even though they’re usually “kid-friendly” they apply to everyone. Recently I taught at a preschool and the mantra was “I can speak up for myself” and I overheard the teacher say something like, “Miss. Sally needs to remember she can speak up for herself sometimes”. It perfectly modeled what we at The Balanced Child Method believe in tapping into that inner child that our practice is rooted in. 

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Like I said, we believe the tools we teach are necessary now more than ever. Many of the schools and classrooms we go into have never had “specials” or extracurriculars before because of covid, or sometimes kids are in a school/childcare setting, away from mom and dad for the first time in their lives. That can be scary and overwhelming and it’s not uncommon for me to go into a classroom that has more than one kiddo having a really bad day. My goal is to always make their day at least a little bit better than it was before I came to visit. Sometimes kids want to lay on their mat in savasana the whole time or sometimes kids are extremely full of wiggles and energy and the teacher looks exhausted when I arrive, on those days I’ll add some extra poses in. We definitely adjust our expectations not only because they are kids but because they’ve also likely been through a lot of changes lately. 

A lot of times in family or adult and me yoga I’ll have a first-time kiddo who doesn’t even want to stay on the mat and the parent is apologizing after. I always reassure them that I’m not at all offended and we definitely don’t expect a 5-year-old to be a professional yogi and I encourage them not to give up. If they keep coming, the kids will get familiar with the routine of our classes and the tools they are learning and within just a few classes there is such a huge difference in how well they are participating. 

Studies show children’s yoga can boost self-esteem and confidence, enhance fine and gross motor skills, increase body awareness and mindfulness, improve memory, concentration, and academic performance and even reduce anxiety and stress. 

Part of our mission statement is to empower children, their families, and their teachers to work through stress, express themselves through movement and navigate all of life’s hurdles. 

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Cait Rose

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