Buddha Belly Kids Yoga is a mobile yoga company founded by educators dedicated to nurturing kids' innate desire for movement and play. In 2014, kindergarten teacher Erin Bracco and reading specialist and literacy coach Meg Reckley took a kids yoga teacher training to incorporate yoga and mindfulness into their classroom. This accidental business evolved and expanded with an after school club, several birthday parties, and a hybrid yoga-art camp — and the pair became co-founders.
Now, Buddha Belly has expanded to a team of almost 15 teachers that serve thousands of children and families throughout the Chicago area. Buddha Belly believes in kids first, then yoga. Classes explore yoga through poses, breathing, and mindfulness while encouraging creativity and fun. Offerings balance both structure and spontaneity — and every experience is created with an educator's touch ensuring that classes are rooted in child development.
In 2020, Buddha Belly Kids Yoga was presented with a problem that many business owners know well: the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global shutdown. Before this, Buddha Belly’s offerings included toddler and caregiver classes, weekly and after-school yoga for preschools, daycares, and K-12 students. They also offered family yoga events, summer camps, birthday parties, private yoga sessions, workshops for parents and caregivers, and professional development for educators, child life specialists, therapists, and other corporate offices.
Behind the scenes, the Sawyer team was rolling out features to support online classes. Within days, Buddha Belly Kids Yoga was able to transition its business from in-person to virtual.
The Buddha Belly Kids Yoga founders quickly realized that yoga translated well to a virtual platform, and they were able to pivot their business model quickly. During the first two weeks alone, the business saw almost 3,000 children from 47 states and 20 countries. Previously, Buddha Belly had a dedicated community within the Chicagoland area.
Within days, that community expanded to encompass children all over the globe. In her own words, Erin described her virtual and in-person community as “the people, whether blood-related or not, whom you turn to in times of joy and sorrow. The people who show up... over and over again. Community is collaboration, not competition. Community is all the beautiful, wonderful, magical, amazing, messy, complicated, real-life things.”
Through a partnership with Sawyer, Buddha Belly Kids Yoga managed all registration for online classes through Sawyer. With flexible features like optional add-ons for a fixed donation amounts to embeddable Zoom links — Sawyer’s flexible solutions allowed this yoga studio to scale. Additionally, these scheduling and business management features save Buddha Belly Kids Yoga instructors a great deal of time on the backend with tech support.