Kate Murphy engaging in play with students.
Kate Murphy, Owner of Nanda Yoga
Kids enjoying some downtime in a yoga class.
You could say that Kate Murphy is a bit of a busy body. Not only is she spearheading the opening of Nanda Yoga’s new brick and mortar studio in Fort Worth, (she’s the owner and founder of Nanda), she also works at Cook Children’s Hospital as a Child Life Specialist, puts in 12-hour shifts in the ER (3 pm to 3 am) and has two kids under the age of three.
Still, Murphy somehow doesn’t come across as stressed or even the least bit frazzled in our meeting.
How does she juggle all of that?
“You have to keep it together and when you feel like crying, laugh instead,” Murphy tells PaperCity Fort Worth. “I worked in oncology for nine years at Cook Children’s and recently left to spend more time at Nanda Yoga. Working in oncology gives you a lot of perspective.”
Murphy was born and raised in Fort Worth. She is a fourth generation graduate of University of Texas, where she began practicing yoga as a sophomore. She always has been an active person, but found yoga comforting because it gave her a sense of routine that resonated in the rest of her life.
“I can honestly say that yoga has served me in every stage of my life.” Murphy says.
Her passion became wanting to introduce children to yoga.
“It’s been my dream to open this studio since 2008,” Murphy says. “I’m so thrilled that it’s finally happening.”
The Nanda Yoga Dream
Murphy completed Radiant Child Yoga training from Shakta Kaur Khalsa in New York in 2008. She felt so moved by Khalsa that she started to piece together how to make a child’s yoga studio a reality. But Murphy had some things she wanted to accomplish first.
She moved to Switzerland and became an au pair. She worked as a chef on a boat in Holland. She ran a hostel in France. Fort Worth finally called her home when an opportunity with Cook Children’s Hospital opened up in 2010.
When Murphy moved back to Texas she threw herself into multiple children’s yoga training sessions, which took her to Austin and Costa Rica. She secured her pre and post natal certification and infant massage therapy certification. Through all this schooling, she was able to create her own kind of children’s yoga.
“At Nanda, we play yoga,” Murphy says. “It’s not rigid and still. It’s about joy and fun and bringing that into the class.”
Located in the Shop Small building off of Montgomery Street, the new Nanda Yoga will host many types of yoga classes for kids aged six weeks to 18 years. The small business has partnered with Grace & Grit, a program that teaches young girls about influential women through history and helps girls grow into strong, confident women.
“When children start yoga at a young age, it becomes their root system and is so much more than a physical movement,” Murphy says. “It’s all-encompassing and teaches them to be present and mindfulness. Yoga isn’t like a sport where you practice for a specific end result.
“In yoga there is no end result because the point of it is your practice. Those skills set you up for success and provide a lot of coping mechanisms.
“This generation of adults is the most depressed and anxious population because those coping mechanisms weren’t learned. Life isn’t supposed to be that way, it’s supposed to be joyful. We teach from a trauma-informed standpoint because so many people do come to the table with trauma. There’s always a catalyst to a certain behavior.”
There also will be yoga classes for teen and tween boys. Nanda Yoga has a separate room for parents to use while their kids are in yoga. The parent can use that time to practice yoga or lie down. No judgement.
You may be asking yourself what a children’s yoga class looks like. Idyllic visions of children speaking in hushed tones and being still may fill your mind. At Nanda Yoga, this isn’t the case.
“You can’t teach adult yoga to children,” Murphy says. “It’s silly and loud and fun.”
The classes weave in story-telling, music and art, puppets and books. The children’s yoga mats become airplanes or sleds and take them on an adventure.
“It’s a perfect activity for kids to do after school because they’ve been forced to be still and quiet all day,” Murphy says. “Here they come in and they can truly play. They get to be kids while we work in moments of mindfulness.”
The studio has an area for Montessori loose-parts play, a sensory play space, a climbing wall, an aerial swing, an infant area and a rocker. All of these are tools to get kids comfortable in their vestibular space, making Nanda Yoga a welcoming environment for children with autism or those who’ve experienced emotional trauma.
A Culture Of Kindness
The kid yoga classes usually go through a story that is made interactive. The children participate in the story while using their imagination and moving their bodies. But, if they aren’t in the mood to follow the class, that’s all right too. Murphy brings a bag of toys into the class and kids can play or lay down on their mats.
The time is theirs.
“Yoga has a way of growing with you,” Murphy says. “My life has been an interesting trajectory, but I feel like all I’ve done has led me to open this studio.
Murphy has seen firsthand how yoga can help children. One day, when Murphy was feeling particularly exhausted, one of her students from a school program told her, “Thank you, I feel happy.”
She often walks away from school sessions feeling grateful for the opportunity to create an environment that makes students feel safe. She’s even seen a difference in her own children. Rather than reacting negatively, she has observed them taking a breath and then reacting to the situation at hand.
“In the end, it’s all really about a culture of kindness,” Murphy says. “I’m happy to be teaching children these lifelong skills.”
The new Nanda Yoga will host an open house on February 8 from 10 am to 4 pm. Bring the family and a book to donate to the children’s library. Classes officially begin on February 17.