There are all sorts of yoga props out there that are designed to help yogis take their practice to the next level. Most people are familiar with using blocks and straps for their practice, and the toolbox has been expanded lately with yoga wheels, inversion chairs and dandas (hard staffs that compliment the asana flow). I am a huge fan of props because they make so many parts of my asana practice more easily accessible and safer, and therefore a lot more enjoyable. I love using a strap to work on my backbends or to simply relax with my legs resting it the strap in Supta Baddha Konasana, and ever since I experienced a prolonged period of sciatica after excessive hamstring stretching I know that blocks are my best friends for practicing Trikonasana and Parsvottanasana.
The latest addition to my yoga prop repertoire is actually not a classical prop. It’s rather the most fun companion on the mat: a fluffy little bear called Meddy Teddy. Meddy has no sciatica problems at all. He bends easily into many different asanas and sits with me in meditation, smiling blissfully and motivating me to practice with awareness and mindfulness. Meddy’s internal frame allows him to bend into lots of different yoga positions. He is flexible enough to sit in lotus and a full split, strong enough to do a perfect little warrior poses, and he looks simply adorable in his headstand.
My practice has been more fun than ever since I’ve had him with me on the mat. And not only on the mat: Meddy has joined me on the paddleboard for SUP yoga, accompanied me when I taught classes in the park, and travelled to festivals with me. He even joined me for the final week of my yoga teacher training, to support me and my fellow yoginis during our final teaching exams, and get cuddled a lot afterwards.
But he definitely gets the most love whenever my little niece comes to visit. As soon as she enters the room, Meddy is the first thing she’s looking for. She rolls out his little blue yoga mat and asks me to bend him into different poses so she can imitate him on my large mat. They do down dog together, rise in cobra, and stretch in frog pose. She makes him do somersaults and balances him on her head while she practices standing on one leg. She even insists on taking him for a walk outside when the yoga session is over.
And no wonder she’s so smitten by him: Meddy was designed for her and children of her age. He was invented as a fun way to playfully introduce yoga, mindfulness, and meditation to kids. Even though the young ones often don’t like to do what they are told, they like to mimic what they see others do. In this regard, Meddy is the perfect role model and play buddy. As a quote on Meddy’s website says, every decision we make today should be made with an eye on what it brings for next next generation. This is what Meddy has made his mission: to teach kids to cultivate mindfulness, and grow up with an open heart.
Plenty of scientific studies have shown the benefits of yoga, meditation and mindfulness for kids and young adults. And of course this doesn’t mean that yoga should be used to make kids sit still and be quiet (which I was sad to learn is the expectation of many pre-school teachers when they invite kids yoga teachers to give classes). Encouraging kids to practice different techniques of mindfulness in a playful way can help improve self-control, reduce anger, anxiety and depression, increase self-esteem, and even boost academic performance, learning, and memory.
I connected with one of Meddy Teddy’s ‘dads’, Mike Jordan, through social media, and when I told him that I was planning to write a blog article about Meddy Teddy, he was happy to contribute some insights and tell me more the exciting story of the little yoga bear and the concept behind him. So here’s how Meddy Teddy came out of his closet:
”Personal growth was at the heart of starting Meddy for me. Yes, it’s true, the real story goes as this: Oldest brother Thom was deep in meditation in a cave in India, and before starting his silent meditation in the cave, he prayed for a way to help the world and help his family, Meddy Teddy popped into his head.
Forward to Thom’s arriving back in LA, my middle brother Tim was coding, starting companies, constantly learning, and amazed me at every turn. I had just washed ashore from a 3 year stint on the blissful island of Lana’i in Hawaii. All I knew was serving drinks, what I didn’t know shocked me about how the world worked.
All I saw were Maserati’s and giant houses back in LA. I knew by attraction they did the asking to get those things, I knew I could ask for the same. So, I started asking, I started asking for something I could do, I asked for growth, for learning, to do something important.
There was Tim and Thom talking one day out in front of my apartment, I had just finished reading the 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris, a book Tim had given me a few weeks earlier, I couldn’t put it down. Literally next thing I know my brothers are talking about Meddy Teddy. Light bulbs, fireworks going off in my mind is how I describe the moment upon hearing Meddy Teddy. I knew then, right then, it was something that should and could be done.
Thom went back on his spiritual journey, now came the part of bugging Tim incessantly to teach me what he knew, the web. It was painful, logins, creating, but we continued. We bought domains; we started piecing together the puzzle. This was 2011, fast forward Spring 2016 and we launch Meddy, to get an idea of the time it took.
Between those years so many ups and down personally for me. I knew what I wanted, I didn’t know how to let it in. That’s always the hardest part of an endeavor, the letting it in as Abraham-Hicks says. I accomplished a dream the year before launch, living abroad in Thailand, check. Midway during the school year of teaching Mom sent me my own prototype; Mom Debbie is the real reason Meddy Teddy is where it is today, side story.
We knew what had to be done, we got social and we had fun. It’s pretty much an easy story to see from there, successful Indiegogo launch, fans, and the continuing of Meddy’s story.”
If you want to learn more about Meddy, check him out here!