The world has achieved a lot when it comes to Literacy. According to UNESCO, the 2015 global literacy rate was around 86% among adults and 90% among youth. It’s impressive that the vast majority of people on earth can read. We value literacy. It’s considered a basic human right.

But around the world there’s another troubling trend in physical health and obesity rates. Globally 13% of adults are obese. According to the World Health Organization the worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. That number would be unacceptable in Literacy terms, but somehow this problem is not getting the attention and resources it deserves.  Phys Ed programs and time are being cut.  Yoga teachers have to fight to get paid for bringing active healthy living to schools.

It’s unacceptable!

global obesity 2008 and physical literacy

Map Credit: World Health Organization

It doesn’t help lower obesity to shame anyone about their body. Statistics only bring awareness.  So how do you change these numbers and improve health? How do you reverse the obesity trend?

If I had the answer to that, I’d probably win the Nobel Prize!

My own struggles with weight and staying active have been difficult. In the last five years I’ve given my computer precedence over my yoga mat. There’s been a lot of sitting and a lot of weight gain.

Plus obesity is an embarrassing topic for people, it’s hard for some to acknowledge, it’s harder to talk about without shaming, and hardest to change.

But can it be as hard as teaching 90% of the world to read?Burlington Physical Literacy Summit and Kids Yoga

My quest for activity led me to the Physical Literacy Summit this week where we looked at how to get kids moving.

The first big insight I took away is that health promoters (whether they are coaches, gym teachers, yoga teachers or parents) need to clearly understand what Physical Literacy means so we can educate others on its importance.

What is Physical Literacy Anyway?

Literacy refers to knowing your ABC’s (or other alphabet), reading, writing, and extends to critical thinking, reasoning, and imagination.

English teachers instil literacy. Math teachers teach about numbers (numeracy). Even music teachers have a scale (a musical alphabet) that serves as a foundation for every song.

Physical Literacy is similar. I think of it as learning “the alphabet of movement” with letters that form words (complex movement) and words that form a story of a healthy life.

That’s my interpretation, here is a more structured definition:

Physical Literacy Definition in Kids Yoga move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities and multiple environments

Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.”  – Physical Health and Education (PHE) Canada

This sounds just like what we do in the world of Yoga!  You build competence and confidence by starting with easy poses and moving to harder ones. You have variety of movement with a large repertoire of poses. You apply it to multiple environments like home, school, sports, relaxing and playing.

Yoga builds physical literacy.

Why Physical Literacy is Important to Yoga Teachers

What you offer through kids yoga can easily get thrown on the “One Day” pile, and if you can’t explain it’s importance, it will stay there getting dusty.

You’ve got to know your value and be able to educate others about the benefits.

You don’t just teach kids yoga:

  • You teach Physically Literacy
  • You cross train kids with foundation skills and build strength for other sports
  • You prevent bone loss, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes
  • You reverse obesity trends
  • Heck, you teach something that can prevent early death!

Yoga Mastery = Physical Literacy

When I chose the name Young Yoga Masters it was because of the promise of Mastery.  A Yoga Master cannot float on air or walk on water, it means they are competent and confident doing all the aspects of yoga.  Yoga Mastery means you can do poses, you can meditate, and you can find your center in a variety of environments. It means you keep your head about you when everyone else is losing it.  It means you feel healthy and capable.  It means you have an attitude of gratitude.  It means you know your reason for doing yoga.

To be a Young Yoga Master means children get these skills to use for a lifetime.

If we can get 90% of youth around the world to be literate, I don’t think its impossible to get at least 90% to be healthy!

What do you think?  Do people value what you offer in kids yoga?  Are you able to convey your value to others as well as you’d like to?

Leave a comment and help build the Yoga Mastery movement!


Upcoming Events

A special welcome to everyone from the Kaleidoscope Spirit kids yoga teacher training, Dunlace Public School, and the Burlington Physical Literacy Summit.  I hope to see you all again soon!

For information on upcoming Kids Yoga Teacher Training Certification courses click the image below.

Kids Yoga Teacher Certificataion in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and also New Orleans, Nanimo BC and elsewhere.

Discover How You can Become a Kids Yoga Teacher


I’d love to see you there!

Yours truly,






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*Yoga Alliance’s Online Training Provision allows for both self-paced (watching recorded training) and/or Live Zoom Training. You can choose a combination of these that works for you.

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  1. What a great article on an excellent topic. Thank you.