Teaching Tips

Pretzel Kids Yoga Teacher Feature: Meet Malai Pressley

By Brooke Weber, Pretzel Kids content editor

Meet Malai Pressley, our November 2020 Pretzel Kids yoga teacher!

We can’t wait for you to hear about Malai’s path from practicing yoga casually to becoming a certified yoga teacher for kids and adults alike.

From tutoring her cousins in French when she was only 16, to working as an instructional coach at a public school, to running her own academic tutoring business, Malai has been teaching all her life

Malai first met yoga five years ago through watching some YouTube videos. Always eager to learn more about her passions, Malai dove deeper into the yoga world, even trying out tai chi before a friend recommended that she train to become a yoga teacher.

Although Malai always wanted to combine her love for teaching kids with her love for teaching yoga, it wasn’t until she found Pretzel Kids that she could make her dreams come true

Why Pretzel Kids yoga? For Malai, the Pretzel Kids online course and membership program ticked every box.

“I was impressed by the number of offerings by teachers and the in-depth training. Pretzel Kids was a way for me to not only teach yoga, but also be an entrepreneur.”

From her home in Columbia, South Carolina, Malai teaches online Pretzel Kids classes to kids everywhere, furthering her mission to bring yoga to as many kids as possible.

Read on to hear more about Malai and how you too can start a career in kids’ yoga.

Pretzel Kids: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Malai: I’m mom to two evolving teenagers, ages 17 and 18. Through yoga, I’ve gained a more profound sense of myself and what I truly believe in, not just with my faith, but everything. Every day starts with yoga and meditation. 

Pretzel Kids: Any fun facts?

Malai: I’m a native of Charleston, South Carolina and love all things seafood.

Pretzel Kids: What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Malai: In my spare time, I enjoy relaxing with my family and listening to podcasts. “Support and Strategy for Yoga Teachers” – I listen to that. “Truth Transformed” – I love that one. Another one is “She Spoke” by these women who founded Namastream, which is actually a platform for people to start their own yoga business. I listen to those, and of course TED Talks. Those are my go-tos right now.

Pretzel Kids: How did you get started teaching yoga?

Malai: After practicing yoga for several years, I had the desire to learn more about the postures. In 2019, I became a certified Hatha yoga teacher through Sakhi Yoga School in Columbia. During my training, I learned about the postures and developed a deeper awareness of myself. Teaching yoga to children was my inspiration. Working in a high-poverty school, I wanted my students to experience yoga and its benefits. Through the training, my teacher said, “Malai, you can teach more than kids!” That’s how I left the program: teaching adults. When I found the Pretzel Kids program, I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll try it.” I taught a class last Saturday for Robyn (the founder of Pretzel Kids), and I was like, “This is why I do this.”

Pretzel Kids: What about teaching kids yoga is so special for you?

Malai: It’s just something about their energy. They’re so innocent and sweet. They don’t judge, and they’re so open-minded to anything. I love teaching adults. But adults have already been so patterned. Especially when an adult has already taken a yoga class, they have in their mind, “Oh, I’m supposed to be doing this, and this, and this.” Their patterns are already built in. Kids don’t have that pattern yet, so you can be more playful with them. It’s really a judgement-free zone. You can be free as a (kids yoga) teacher

Pretzel Kids: And what makes yoga great for kids?

Malai: As an educator of 13 years, I’ve witnessed children go through social and emotional challenges. I believe yoga is a way for them to tap into their emotions and learn strategies for coping in times of stress and/or trauma. 

Pretzel Kids: How did you hear about Pretzel Kids, and what drew you to the Pretzel Kids online course and membership/licensing program?

Malai: Through a Google search, I found the Pretzel Kids website. I was drawn to the high-quality Pretzel Kids online courses. The membership/licensing program was affordable and I could become a part of a kids yoga teacher community.

Pretzel Kids: What’s your favorite thing about the Pretzel Kids Method?

Malai: My favorite thing about the Pretzel Kids Method is that all of the resources you need are readily available. Every month, you have access to a theme which outlines all of the breathing techniques and poses. Pretzel Kids has taken the guesswork out of teaching kids yoga

Pretzel Kids: What have you learned about yourself through teaching kids’ yoga?

Malai: In training, I learned more about myself than I ever wanted to know. As I continue to practice yoga, I still continue to learn. I would probably be in that category of people who are just busy. If I didn’t have something going on, I would find something to do. Yoga really taught me how to tune out that inner voice, that inner chatter that I often have going on. Meditation is my favorite part of yoga because I have the opportunity to just be still. It’s also definitely opened my mind. 

Pretzel Kids: How has yoga changed the way you think about the world?

Malai: I live here in the South, in South Carolina. We are considered the Bible Belt, but of course, we have people of many different faiths and beliefs. I think yoga really helped me to get out of where I am geographically to see that there is such a broader world with broader views.

Pretzel Kids: What is it like to be a woman of color in the yoga world?

Malai: Charleston was very diverse for me growing up, so I was always exposed to people of all races. For me, coming to Columbia and teaching yoga, at first when I started teaching, it was hard, and people – I can’t even say it was a race thing – but people just went to the teachers that they wanted to go to, and my body is not shaped like everybody else’s. So I really had to just be my authentic self, and then those women that gravitated towards me – which, interestingly, most of the women that do come to my classes are women of color, so you still face those challenges. Even though women that are not of color will say, “Oh, I’m coming to your class, I’m coming,” they don’t, and that’s been hard for me, but I just say, “Whoever’s going to come is going to come!”

Pretzel Kids: What has teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic been like for you?

Malai: I did have to take a quick pause. I set up a virtual platform where I was teaching classes, and then, of course, connecting with Pretzel Kids has been so easy because it’s kind of taken the stress off of me. When I started with Pretzel kids, COVID had not happened, so I was planning for these longer classes. Once this happened, Robyn really went through how to teach a short, virtual class. I really just followed her model, and as I’ve gone along, just tweaked it to fit my style and adjusted it to the kids that are in my class. Having that Outschool platform, I don’t have to do anything! Everything is set up, and for me, that’s been my go-to. I’ve taught “Pretzel Kids for Every Child” virtually. I have truly enjoyed my time with my students. They are a fun group. 

Pretzel Kids: If you could teach yoga anywhere, where would you teach?

Malai: If I could teach Pretzel Kids yoga anywhere, it would be in underserved schools and community centers. I hope to positively impact communities that might not otherwise experience yoga.

Pretzel Kids: Okay, speed round! What’s your favorite Pretzel Kids game?

Malai: My favorite Pretzel Kids game is freeze dance.

Pretzel Kids: Favorite Pretzel Kids theme?

Malai: My favorite Pretzel Kids theme is Pretzel Kids Luau.

Pretzel Kids: Favorite food?

Malai: My favorite food is blueberries. They are oh-so yummy!

Thanks for talking to us, Malai! We wish you continued success!

Editor’s Note: Curious about taking the Pretzel Kids teacher training course and learning the Pretzel Kids Method so you can run a successful kids yoga business like Malai? 

Let’s talk! We’re here to get you started on the path to making all the extra dough you need as a Pretzel Kids teacher. We can’t wait for you to join the Pretzel Kids yoga family! 

Similar Posts