Author Q&A: Yoga and Pen Pals
Author and yoga instructor Jill Apperson Manly is an inspiration! If you ever had a pen pal as a child, you’ll appreciate her new international pen pal program she’s created for elementary students. And if you’re an aspiring writer, find out how yoga can help the process in ways you may never have realized.
You are a yoga instructor and an author, and we love that your first
book includes basic yoga poses! Can you tell us a little bit about the journey of bringing yoga to the page?
Yoga is in everything. Not necessarily yoga postures but a sense of the mindfulness is always present. It is present moment awareness. There are so many names for it. The animals I saw in Africa and the yoga I teach to kids are a natural fit. Kids love animals and they identify with some of the traits they see in the animals. By moving like the animals, they can playfully feel into their own bodies and start to identify their own strengths, emotions.
It’s amazing that you’re starting a new pen pal program between
California and international elementary schools. What will the program entail?
I am conducting a pilot program now to get out the wrinkles and want the participants to evaluate the program. I am working with retired teachers, kids’ yoga teachers and current elementary school teachers. I have an enquiry form on my website for those who want to learn more. My hope is to get enough momentum to pair the teachers, get them the material and they communicate directly with one another. This is what I see happening now.
In this day and age of instant digital communication and social media, what do you think are some of the benefits of an old fashioned pen pal?
Great question. It is not just a pen pal program. I pair the pen pal program with the book, the reading of the book and specific sentence starters for a first grade level. It is focused on self discovery and sharing of yourself and your culture.
Nothando’s Journey will be included in the program. How will that work?
I am providing the books to all the participants at this time. I am speaking with groups and embassies around the globe to try and figure out postage for the books and letters. There are just two letters that I have them writing to each other. If the teachers want to continue after that, they can. It has been received very favorably by the teachers and kids so far. Some areas do not have the digital capabilities so post is the only way.
Do you think there’s a benefit to learning yoga from a young age?
Yes, absolutely. Little ones have a hard time with the stillness component. I do not do a lot of stillness projects with them but it is great time to talk about feelings. This is one of the main points of my book. I hope parents, caregivers and grandparents express and share their feelings with their little ones and vise versa. I think tweens are absolutely the best age. If you have teenagers open to yoga, this is also a great age. They will benefit immensely. I have teenage boys in my home right now and they are not that open to it.
It’s interesting that you taught elementary school overseas. Can you talk about a bit about that experience and what you took away from it?
There is a Oneness, a humanness that I experienced. We are more alike than different. Our cultures are so diverse and rich and make us interesting outside. Our humanness makes us interesting and alike inside. It is a natural for stories.
Please share any tips you have for our readers that write…how can they include yoga in their writing process?
I would include yoga and meditation in any writing process. These practices quiet the mind and move energy in the body. Things are uncovered that might not otherwise be released, discovered or shared.
What can our readers expect next from you?
I really want to write a book about my time in Saudi Arabia. I want to share a story of a child that connects these two countries in a positive way. We are so divided today. There is a Oneness that I know people can feel and that kids already know.
Learn more and order your copy of Nothando’s Journey here.
Former overseas elementary teacher Jill Apperson Manly has traveled the world. As a result, she has developed a sense of familiarity and appreciation for other cultures and countries. Jill enjoys blending that appreciation with her extensive knowledge of yoga to encourage children to be their true selves, and to be proud of who they are. She highlights the awareness, relaxation, and healing that the yoga practice can bring. Jill is licensed through Yoga Alliance and received her CYT from The Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California, and is currently completing her iRest Teacher Certification, and 500 hour certification with Janice Gates in Somatic Yoga Therapy. Jill works with cancer survivors, abuse victims and children. Jill has her own studio in Corona del Mar, California and resides with her husband and four children in Newport Beach, California.
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