Today’s Everyday Goddess is the youngest one yet. Tea and I met through ivivva Walnut Creek over two years ago, when Tea was just beginning her yoga journey and I was still in high school. Tea had an eagerness to learn not only the asana, but the philosophy and spirit of yoga that I deeply appreciated, and I was excited for the opportunity to work with her. Her goal was to become a yoga teacher, and her tenacity towards that goal is impressive at any age, let alone 11 years old. Without further ado, here is Tea’s story in her own words (thus far)!
Introduce yourself…who are you?
I am Tea Sloane Smith. I am almost 12 years old and I practice and teach yoga in the Bay Area. I completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Diego this summer of 2017 and now enjoy co-teaching teens with Haley Hewitt, RYT at Miramonte High School and an all-levels donation-based class at the Lafayette Reservoir.
I know Maris because she has been one of my teachers and mentors. I have learned so much from her about Yoga and taking care of myself. I just entered middle school and Yoga has been so helpful in navigating this transition.
How did your yoga journey begin?
I started practicing gymnastics when I was three, and started to learn yoga at the same time. I loved the way it made me feel and around age 7, I transitioned to Yoga and quit gymnastics. Two years ago, at 10 years old, I felt inspired to work toward a dream I had to teach Yoga. A year ago, I began to co-teach little bits at a time with Haley. I worked hard for two years training with Haley and Maris, and was accepted into a training in summer of this year at Prana Yoga Center in La Jolla. After two months of rigorous training in teaching A’sana, learning Anatomy, Breathwork, Meditation, and the overall science of Yoga, I completed the training.
What made you want to teach yoga?
I wanted to teach yoga so I could inspire kids and adults to believe that they can do anything, that they can follow their dreams, and bring a sense of love and fun into their bodies and their lives. Yoga looks different for everyone, and we each have our own, unique practice which I think is really special. It also brings us together, and it means “to connect” which is an important tool for truly enjoying and loving life. I really enjoy expressing myself creatively through sequences and cuing. I also love the looks on people’s faces after a good savasana. Helping others feel good makes me feel good.
What are the biggest obstacles you have faced on your journey?
I like the challenge of learning a new pose or sitting with my thoughts in meditation. I like apps for meditating because they help track my progress and motivate me to do it daily. It was an obstacle to find a Yoga Teacher Training who would be willing to train me, considering I’m not an adult or even a teenager. I had done one private training locally and halfway through, it was cancelled because the studio felt like they couldn’t take on this huge feat of training a kid. It is our obstacles that give us strength though, as long as we face them and keep trying. I didn’t give up and finally connected with a studio down in San Diego who named many great yogis who started their yoga practices and yoga teaching in their childhoods (Iyengar, Dharma Mittra, and more!). Kids and animals naturally do Yoga- it’s like we are BORN doing yoga! We just know some of the yoga naturally!
Being away from home without my friends and family for the training this summer was hard, and sometimes I am just not in the mood for yoga! It can be an obstacle to focus all of my attention on the teacher or on my breath. I took a lot of breaks during the training to take care of myself because the hours were really long and sometimes my muscles felt very sore! I like to socialize with friends my age and to play different sports so just to focus on yoga for 8-12 hours a day was honestly one of the biggest obstacles I have ever overcome. It was also a great gift and I am grateful for the experience. Most importantly, I am proud of myself and that feels important to say because sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit and can be too hard on ourselves!
Who and what inspires you to be your fearless and authentic self?
My friends always support me to be weird and silly. They see me for who I am and embrace that silliness so I feel like I can be myself.
My mom always encourages me to be unique and different. There are many ways to be different and it’s important to listen to yourself and what you truly want to do and become. Listening to my heart and spending time with people who bring out the best in me (which is the silly, weird me) are two ways I feel inspired to be fearlessly authentic. Yoga teaching at my age has been a unique path that has set me apart from my friends at times, which can be hard but is also very special.
I am inspired by those who practice yoga in their later years, like Tao Porchon-LynchTao Porchon-Lynch, and those who practice yoga as a way to overcome hardship or trauma they have experienced in their lives. Honestly, anyone who is practicing Yoga inspires me to be fearless and authentic!
Join Tea for a donation-based class later this month at the Lafayette Reservoir!