Little YogisLooking for an activity that will challenge and engage your child in body and mind? Seek out a kids’ yoga class. Although yoga is typically considered an adult practice, kids love it for the same reasons that grownups do, such as relaxation and increased strength and flexibility. I myself didn’t discover yoga until college. It helped me through some challenging times. I liked it so much that I got certified to teach it. In 2007, I created Yogi Beans, an innovative yoga-for-kids program that translates the ancient practice of yoga into terms young people can relate to. The program works with babies as young as six weeks up to teenagers. I wish it had been around when I was growing up. An anxious child, I could have used a practice like yoga to calm me down.

Parents often ask me, “How can my four-year-old possibly do yoga?” Well, kids’ classes are louder and sillier than adult classes, and a lot of the yoga takes place off the mat. But the basic movements and mind-body concepts are the same. I teach children the classic yoga poses by describing and holding up pictures of animals. They learn pranayama, or yogic breathing, through creative and interactive breath work.  I remind children that when angry feelings arise, they can practice “deep ocean breathing” before speaking or reacting (a helpful practice for adults, too!). And we discuss the importance of being quiet and still and fully present. We finish each class with a relaxation exercise (savasana) and a brief meditation, and many kids say that’s their favorite part of class! The second I turn off the lights, the children lie down in preparation for their savasana foot rub (with strawberry-scented lotion!).

“In yoga, there are no winners or losers. The word yoga means “union,” and in our classes we work together to create a peaceful, fun, and loving environment.”

Unlike other sports kids might participate in, yoga is noncompetitive. I often remind kids that “yoga is a practice, not a perfect.” In yoga, there are no winners or losers. The word yoga means “union,” and in our classes we work together to create a peaceful, fun, and loving environment.

In our Yogi Beans classes we often remind kids to take their yoga with them into their daily lives. This can mean anything from doing a pose that helps them calm down to taking a few deep breaths before an exam to help them center and relax. You are never too young to receive the mind/body/heart benefits of yoga!

The Yogi Beans studio is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan at 1018 Lexington Avenue (at 73rd Street). For more information, visit us at www.yogibeans.com or email us at info@yogibeans.com.

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