Cosmic Kids in action
It’s a big week coming up for Jaime and Martin Amor. There’s the International Day for Yoga this Sunday (check out the Apple Watch challenge) and the next day is the beginning of WWDC20, where hundreds of thousands of Apple app developers will come together, virtually, to work on their apps.
Cosmic Kids is the world’s number one kids’ yoga app. Back in 2011, husband and wife team Martin and Jaime started making yoga videos for children to watch on YouTube.
Jaime had trained as an actor and at weekends had entertained at children’s parties, building yoga into what she did from the beginning. So, she might tell the kids, “There’s a witch coming but if we all try these five special moves, she won’t come.” The moves were yoga poses. “I found that when I put movement into that setting, the children would respond will full attention and real involvement from an emotional point of view as well – they were really vitally there,” Jaime explains.
This led to teaching yoga in schools, always as a response to teachers’ requirements. So, if a school wanted young children to learn about a plumber on building site, she would create a story where the schoolchildren would join in the story of installing a bathroom. “We would use our yoga poses to go through what some of the things that the builder would do, like put in a bathroom, so I’d say ‘Let’s be the bath and then let’s be the sink’ and I would use the kind of yoga poses that would best represent those items for the kids to feel like they were doing it. We would sit in a sort of boat pose and turn our ankles from side to side like we were screwing in the screws.”
Then came the YouTube videos and from there the iPhone and Apple TV apps. At first, they were hesitant, thinking that setting up an app, doing bug fixes and so on would be beyond them. But then, a YouTube issue arose.
YouTube’s adverts are designed to appeal to the account holder, who is pretty much an adult. Jaime and Martin had feedback from teachers who had set up the class for the video to run and just before it did, were greeted by an ad that turned out to be the trailer for a horror film aimed at adults. Cue slow-motion run by the teacher from the back of the room to prevent it from playing.
An app solves all that.
“This opportunity of doing an app which was a walled garden, a place where it was just our content there were no ads, there was no rabbit hole to go down into was a really prime opportunity. There’s also the fact that we could get it to work on things like Apple TV and Roku devices was a big bonus because really our content is best on a big screen.”
Jaime Amor in a world inspired by Super Mario.
The real thing that jumps out at you when talking to Jaime, who continues to present yoga videos in unusual garb, everything from a onesie to a Super Mario costume, is the fizzing imagination that goes into the videos, and is surely a reason why they are so appealing to kids of all ages.
“There is a little bit of license to kind of make the moves work in the stories. I think as kids are going through that phase of their life, ages three through seven, that imaginary world is important. When they come to about seven or eight and you start doing different form of yoga with them, you do more themed yoga rather than story-based yoga, you can stop introducing more information. So, you can explain that what we’ve called the surfer’s pose is in fact the Warrior 2 pose. Or, if we’ve done a class on a Star Wars theme, we’ll do Jedi Warrior pose which will be a Warrior pose, but you kind of add the Jedi element to it to kind of bring it to theme.”
Jaime in Star Wars style environs
The Cosmic Kids videos are quite lavish, with sets, costumes and animated elements, so expensive to make. The app meant they could continue. “If we’ve got enough support from people subscribing the app, then it meant that we could actually keep funding the production of our videos,” Jaime explains.
The benefit of the app, she says, is that the relationship is more personal, more civilized. “It’s a much more kind of refined relationship that we’ve got with our with our audience and I think that the trust we can build with them is that much more valuable and more authentic.”
It clearly works for the audience, too. “It feels good, they are really mindful kids, they’re incredibly in the moment and when something feels good, they will run to it, they will dive in and it’s great to know that yoga gives them this experience of their bodies which feels so positive and so good that’s why they return to it again and again.
That this app is so successful, with over one million kids using Cosmic Kids to get their yoga fix is proof that the App Store is open to anyone with the right idea. It’s not exclusive club for big companies.
During lockdown, there have been plenty of kids keeping busy with yoga, and Jaime is planning to introduce live sessions, though the facility for kids to do it when they want to is still important: “If we give the kids the autonomy and the control as to when they want to do it, they’re more likely to do it.”
So, have Jaime’s acting skills been important for how Cosmic Kids developed?
“It’s funny how it’s come full circle. I was always drawn to the story-telling aspect of the yoga.One of the reasons it works is I do inject tons of performance technique and energy into it because I just think it has to be engaging in order to take the kids with you. You have to be emotionally invested in it as much as you want the people who are practising to be invested in it.”
You can find out more about it at cosmickids.com or download the app from the App Store.
More on Forbes: