Making Yoga Mindful Child's Play: Local Yoga Teachers Help Kids Cope with Daily Stress
While the mental and physical benefits of yoga for adults have been appearing in mainstream publications such as TIME magazine for several years, the benefits of yoga and mindfulness for children are just beginning to garner the attention of parents and teachers. Although children in kids yoga classes at Love Yoga Center, in Naples, and the Path of Being, in Fort Myers, are experiencing the same thing as adults that practice yoga—from learning self-awareness and calming techniques to gaining self-acceptance and developing focus—they are enjoying a more playful form of learning and having fun doing it.
On Saturdays at 1 p.m., a small group of children ranging in age from 6 to 11 years old arrive at Love Yoga Center, where two or three yoga teachers are waiting to greet them with a welcoming warm smile. “Kids classes are different, in that it’s not all about yoga poses and breathing exercises. For instance, while we are sitting on the floor in a circle, we experience enjoyable learning games getting to know our names and each other. Every activity, whether it’s a yoga posture, a fun game or craft, is done mindfully. We end with a guided meditative relaxation experience, a child’s version of savasana, a reclining pose aimed at relaxing them. We close by singing a song together,” says Lahoma Nachtrab, a certified yoga teacher and owner of Love Yoga Center, in Naples.
Nachtab believes that kids yoga classes are a good way for children to interact with each other in a non-competitive environment that is free of judgment. “Feedback from parents has been good. They see that their children are calmer, and that while they get excited, it’s different because it’s not from being overstimulated,” she says.
Shelly Sager, a certified Kidding Around Yoga teacher and Deb White, a crystal bowl practitioner, combine their efforts at The Path of Being’s Mommy & Me with Daddy Too Yoga and meditation classes the fourth Tuesday of each month from 6:00 to 7 p.m. “We incorporate yoga elements with the soothing vibrational tones of crystal bowls. Shelly leads the first half-hour of the class, in which the kids do yoga poses and fun activities with their mom, dad or both. When the kids are relaxed from doing yoga poses and mindful play with a parent, Shelly speaks about mindfulness and how to quiet the monkey brain,” says White.
White follows up Sager’s portion of the class with a half-hour in a Secret Garden crystal bowl meditation. “I have the children gather around the bowls, one of which is with filled with water. I want them to see what the vibration looks like in their body, which I explain is 60 percent water, as well as how important it is for them to drink water and not soda. They get to play the bowls and discuss how they feel in their secret garden. Kids use words such as relaxed, calm and peaceful.
White also explains to the children that they have super powers which they can use to control the weather in their mind when it feels cloudy. “I tell them that it’s as easy as breathing and turning the storm into sunshine,” she says.
Nachtrab, Saeger and White are in agreement that from their experiences with kids and yoga, while children don’t realize that they are cultivating health, relaxation and body awareness, they are benefitting and building a foundation for dealing with the stressors and pressures that naturally come with adolescence and adulthood.
Love Yoga Center, 4949 Tamiami Tr., N. Ste. 204, Naples. 239-692-9747. LoveYogaCenter.com.
Path of Being, 15248 S Tamiami Tr., Ste. 300, Fort Myers. 239-437-5141. ThePathOfBeing.com.