California tweening: the making of a 12-year-old yogi


(Reuters) - Jaysea Devoe is a yoga instructor who has the challenging job of teaching fidgety preschoolers the ancient practice, but once her charges get going, she says, "they really start to focus and listen."

Devoe knows a thing or two about childhood and focus, for she is only 12 years old and just recently became a certified yoga instructor after completing 200 hours of teacher training. She is believed to be the youngest certified female yoga instructor in the United States.

In addition to her pint-size students aged 4 to 6, Devoe teaches teens and fellow tweens in her California beach town of Encinitas and is about to start a family yoga class. Oh, and she just told her dad she wants to look into making eco-friendly yoga mats.

"I feel like I want to do this for a long time because I love teaching so much," says Devoe, the picture of a California beach girl, with long blond hair and long legs to match.

But Jaysea is not alone in her entrepreneurial zeal. Her twin brother is a sponsored competitive surfer and works at a surfboard fin manufacturing company. Her 15-year-old brother is a "professional water man," a spear fisherman, rod and reel angler and surfer who also teaches and has sponsors.

Encinitas, 25 miles north of San Diego, happens to sit at the junction of laid-back beach life, high-octane sports and entrepreneurial gumption. Skateboarder-turned-businessman Tony Hawk and Olympic gold snow boarder Shaun White are both based in Encinitas.

With so much opportunity around, the Devoe parents, Rick and Julie, decided less time should be spent at school and found an accommodating institution for their kids' plans.

"They only go to school three days a week and we told them 'You have to figure out what you want to do and you've got four days to do it,'" says Rick, who manages bands and surfers. "'And hopefully by the time you graduate high school, you have a career path chosen.'"

Jaysea told her father she wanted to teach yoga and when she said it was 200 hours of training, "We were like 'Whoa.'"

"She was just adamant about doing all the homework and never wanting to miss a class," Rick says. "We were just really thrilled and very honored that they allowed her to do it and that she pulled it off."


Jaysea now works at a donation-based yoga studio and found $136 in the donation box after her first class. She was trained to teach adults yoga and is ready for moms and dads in her new family class. And she feels completely prepared to deal with the injuries that often crop up in the practice of yoga.

"We have learned so many variations of all the poses to do if people do have injuries or to prevent injuries," she says with a confident tone.

School doesn't start until 9:45 a.m. or 10:30 a.m., so she has time to do her practice every morning at home for an hour.

"I turn music on and I like flowing with the music, it is called sun salutation ... that is probably one of my favorite parts," Jaysea says.

Rick Devoe says he's not surprised Jaysea chose yoga.

"Jaysea is just really Zen-y," he says. "She's got this spiritual side to her. She's always been intrigued by the moon and nature."

As if teaching yoga on a donation basis to preschoolers, teens and families and creating a yoga mat side business wasn't enough for a 12-year-old girl, Jaysea also volunteers every week at a local organic farm.

And then there's time for play. When it's sunny and the Pacific Ocean is what she calls "glassy," she surfs or paddleboards with best friend Miely. No parental guidance needed.

"We live right by the beach, right down the staircase, so we just go down there, yeah," says Jaysea.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

Originally published