The First Lady Plants a Yoga Garden

yoga garden

Yoga Garden at the White House Egg Roll

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As I was standing barefoot in the grass on the South Lawn of the White House, I saw a woman in tree pose wearing a black t-shirt with “Michelle Obama is my homegirl” airbrushed in neon pink and blue.

Me too, sister.

“Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!” It could be the tagline for any yoga studio, but it’s the message our First Lady, Michelle Obama, and her team created when they completely transformed the once-elite White House Easter Egg Roll into a family-friendly extravaganza promoting health and wellness. For the last five years, I’ve had the incredible privilege of teaching yoga on the White House lawn along with a team of rock star yogis from across the country. 30,000 people from all 50 states attend the event, and what do they see first when they walk onto the lawn? The Yoga Garden!

Our First Lady is modeling that while tradition is important, we have the freedom to adapt those traditions and practices to make them work for our lives today. She chose to make the Easter Egg Roll matter to all kids and families of today, instead of exclusively to DC’s elite. She transformed the event, adding yoga, opening it to LGBT families and DC public schools, and giving regular folks from all 50 States the chance to join. Our President said it best when, still a Senator, he said, “Mindful of our history and hopeful for our future, let’s go out and make the world a better place today.”

Once a year, the Obamas turn “America’s backyard” into a playground for the day, complete with yoga, live music, sports, cooking classes, storytelling and, of course, the traditional egg roll. Some kids come in their seersucker suits and ruffles, and others in their sweat suits and gym shoes. All too often, the business of teaching yoga can be highly competitive. But on this day, just like it doesn’t matter what you wear, it doesn’t matter what kind of yoga you practice, how big your classes are, or if you’re featured at major conferences. It matters how much you care, how much you can let go, get down, and have some fun. It matters how we connect to the highest in ourselves and see and inspire the highest in everyone we meet. No matter who’s teaching, we end every class the same, by sharing the meaning of Namaste in the simplest terms — I’m awesome and you’re awesome too. Thanks, Mrs. Obama. “Let’s Go, Let’s Play, and Let’s Move!”

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