Published in YogaCity NYC September 2013
On the surface yoga and modern technology seem paradoxical. An ancient Eastern practice that preaches being fully present in the moment — drawing awareness to the subtleties of breath and body movement — opposes the experience of the virtual world that requires instantaneous attention. And yet, visionaries are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of the accessibility and popularity of modern tools in order to share information about healthy living with a broader community at much quicker speeds.
Lara Land, owner of Land Yoga in Harlem and founder of the children’s yoga brand Chloe the Yogi, has found a way to successfully capitalize on the rapidly evolving and increasingly popular realm of iPhones, iPads, and Apps, bringing her knowledge and experience as a yoga teacher into the laps of children and around the world.
Meet Chloe the Yogi: The Amusement Park, the first of five editions of Land’s interactive app. Designed for the iPad, it consists of a twenty page narrative that follows a little yogini named Chloe on an adventure through a theme park, mixing asana with entertainment. Each page is equipped with an interactive feature that gives instructions on how to do the same yoga poses as Chloe, so that readers can combine moving and breathing with learning.
Land’s app aims to make yoga easily accessible to her tech-savvy demographic of pint-size yogis in training, ranging from 4-7 years old. For example, chair pose, is playfully transformed into Chloe’s ferris wheel pose and upward plank pose.
One of the exciting parts of the Chloe the Yogi app is its adaptability to school settings. Many elementary schools are utilizing iPads and Smart Boards in the classrooms, replacing the classic spiral bound lesson planners and composition notebooks. When teachers want to physically engage their students, giving them a break from their desks, they can turn to the Chloe the Yogi and offer a read aloud alongside a brief yoga class. “Kids need ways to release energy throughout the day,” says Land, “So many schools are using smart technology, and so our app steps in and helps to channel that energy in a fun and beneficial way.”
Parents are encouraged to join their children when using the app at home, unlike many of the popular apps that are intended for an individual user. “A lot of parents were asking me what goes on in a child’s yoga classes and wanted to be a part of that experience,” said Land about her motivation. “Now they can participate with their children and gain a better understanding of the benefits of yoga for their kids.”
Land’s dream of creating a way to bring yoga classes for kids into the mainstream started years before the app was a possibility. She had conceived of the idea for widely distributable electronic kids yoga books alongside of her Chloe the Yogi Brand, but needed technology to catch up to her vision. “I wrote the story about three years ago but the project had to go on the back burner. The technology wasn’t there for what I wanted to do.”
Besides creating the app, Land has dedicated much of her time and energy to creating and continually developing her brand. “Chloe the Yogi is Lara’s baby,” as business partner and friend Nikoa Evans-Hendricks acknowledged at the recent launch of the app. “She has been carrying this idea around in her heart for a long while, and now it is finally here. It’s a big step and we expect big things to come, and are all so happy to be along for the ride.” Once the app technology had sprung into the mainstream, Lara gathered together programmers and front end developers to help her make it a reality. When asked if the process of Apple approved was daunting or cumbersome, Lara replied that she is grateful to her tech team for helping make the in-betweens of conception to product as smooth as they could be. “The app was rejected once due to lack of screen shots, but we quickly fixed it, sent it back, and it was instantly approved [by Apple]. I would say there would have been much more trouble had we not had someone [on our team] who really understood Apple technology.”
Chloe the Yogi part of is Land’s line of children’s yoga classes. She offers her vast experience teaching kids yoga to schools around New York City, and offers private classes, birthday parties, and workshops. To learn about Chloe the Yogi events, click here.
Land hopes to keep updating the app with more features, including adding more original music. Like Chloe, Land’s followers are excited to see where she takes them on her next yoga adventure.