Greville Henwood is a big kid at heart. If you head to his website you’ll find a gallery of him standing on his head, smiling, and teaching kids yoga.
This sense of wonder and joy has opened doors for him worldwide. Yoga began as a hobby, became a career, and a way to share his curiosity and marvel of life.
Greville has lived life as an adventure from the beginning. In 1985, he was an 18-year-old actor finishing up a production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno, Cornwall, England. As the production was coming to a close, Greville felt a new adventure was waiting.
When a friend invited him to live in Paris, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for adventure, growth, and fun. Greville moved in with a group of mime students at L’Ecole Mimodrame de Marcel Marceau. Each morning, they would rise and complete two hours of asana practice. Greville, who had explored meditation as a 15-year-old, was curious. Eventually, he was given Raquel Welch’s coffee table book of Bikram’s 26 asanas and he began to practice.
“I hated it at first,” confessed Greville, “But there was something in the book that talked about prana. It wasn’t just about breathing, but about truly connecting. If you tune in, your breath can help you connect; I knew this would help me understand the world.”
Greville continued practicing, becoming increasingly curious about yoga and its benefits. After living in Denmark for a year and a half, Greville moved to Los Angeles in 1987 and completed his first teacher training at YogaWorks. As Greville taught group classes and private sessions, his friends and clients noticed how good he was with kids. “You should teach kids yoga!” was a comment he heard on a regular basis.
Then one evening in 2004, while in Shanghai leading a workshop, Greville had a dream he was teaching kids yoga “That’s interesting,” he thought. The following night, he had a similar dream. “Ok, ok! I get it!”
Greville felt that this was something he was called to do. “I made it my mission, and almost immediately when I got back to Los Angeles, there was an opportunity at YogaWorks to teach kids’ yoga.”
“After that first training, I took three more, mentored other kids’ yoga teachers, and took courses in human development.”
Greville felt that something was still missing.
“Where do you show kids that this practice will accept you as you are?” he questioned. “Where do you show them that yoga is noncompetitive and that they will use it for the rest of their lives?”
Just then, fate seemed to step in yet again. Greville’s friend Naomi was looking for someone to lead a kids’ yoga teacher training in Japan since a last-minute cancellation forced her to find a replacement teacher. She called Greville, “Can you do it and do you have a manual?” To Greville, this was a sign: The perfect opportunity to write his own program.
“The doors of opportunity opened and I had to walk through.” said Greville.
Twenty-four hours later, Greville was on a plane to Japan. His training program, GroovyKids Yoga, was born.
Today, GroovyKids yoga classes are 45 minutes long. Greville practices alongside the kids, creating a sense of community.
“I am always tinkering. After each class, I ask myself three questions: Did they have fun? Will they do more yoga? Will they come back?”
When leading trainings, Greville asks his students to connect with their childlike sense of wonder. He says, “Yoga gives you the chance to stop everything that is going on outside of you and have a consciousness of what is going on inside of you.”
Greville inspires future kids’ yoga teachers to think outside of their societal box. He says, we practice yoga to explore and to find out who we are inside. “During the trainings, I ask students if they can narrow down the moment when they stopped being a kid,” says Greville. “As humans, we give up something that is essential to feeling joy.”
Greville reiterates the importance of how teachers view the kids. His advice: “For 45 minutes of the day, see a bright shiny mirror. See them as the most important person in the world. Give the kids permission to be themselves.”
What Greville loves most about teaching kids is how naturally in the moment they are. “The kids constantly remind me what a privilege it is to be alive.”
Greville’s goal is to inspire in kids a passion and curiosity for yoga. He’s not concerned with whether or not they will return to his class. In fact, he never wants yoga to become a “have to” for kids. The truth is that when children feel forced into an activity, they very rarely want to do it. “If you plant a seed in fertile ground, it will grow, whether or not you are there,” says Greville.
Greville speaks with obvious humor and ease; his passion for life spills out over the edge and touches those around him. He channels this love of life to empower kids to be uniquely who they are and permission to be their extraordinary selves.
Learn more about Greville at: groovykidsyoga.com.
Amy Gartenberg is a yoga teacher, school teacher, and writer. You can follow her adventures online at CestCaliforniaVie.com