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There’s adult yoga and there’s kid yoga, and they are very, very different sorts of animals—as far apart, say, as downward dog and a crazy, multi-colored cartoon canine.
Adult yoga usually involves dim lighting, soft music, and lots of time to de-stress from the pressures of, well, everything that comes along with being a parent. Kid yoga is playful mix of running, jumping, stretching, and playing, all with an element of mindfulness. The body awareness, breath consciousness, and inner calming are there, all right—but they’re as undetectable to the average kid’s eye as those “sneaky” brownies that have puréed spinach baked right in.
This summer, venerable mommy-and-baby-yoga empire Blooma will be offering kids’ yoga camps, taught by Jessica Rosenberg, a longtime Twin Cities’ yoga instructor and developer of the The Adventures of Super Stretch kids’ yoga program, products, and yoga apps on iTunes. Camps will be held at Blooma’s Minneapolis location, 5315 Lyndale Avenue.
Can your kid make it to shavasna?
If your first thought is that there is no way your little darling would be able to sit through a session of yoga, consider the experience of Anne Gustin, Edina resident and mother of two children. Her six-year-old and two-and-a-half year-old often beg to fire up the Adventures of Super Stretch app on the iPad during their daily quiet time. And, says Gustin, her six-year-old loves going to kids’ yoga classes, especially those taught by Rosenberg.
“Jes takes a playful approach to yoga. They move around a lot. To teach squats, for example, they all pretend to be frogs and hop in a circle around imaginary lily pads. It’s very interactive, and she uses pictures, toys, and animals to illustrate things to the kids. But she also teaches them about the benefits and reasons for each pose. And incredibly, she gets them to lie relatively still in shavasana at the end,” Gustin says.
While yoga for kids is still relatively rare as a regular athletic activity, she says, “I wish it were more prevalent and more of a priority for parents, since sports tend to take precedence. I know that in our household, when our daughter got to a certain age, there were lots of chances for skating and soccer and gymnastics, but we’re still trying to keep yoga in her life, since it’s a lifetime practice, with so many benefits,” she adds.
“Kids learn how to blossom through the yoga sequences,” teacher Rosenberg observes. An industrial designer, she is a 500-hour Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher, and she believes that many of the things learned in yoga camp are translatable to kids’ lives off the mat. “They find how they can use their breath for emotional control and self-regulation and they learn how to share with partner poses. The balancing poses help them remember that, even when things are stressful, you need to keep breathing or your mind will become erratic,” she adds.
The mind-body connection
Kids’ yoga camp gives children the opportunity to take ownership of their reactions, she says. “For example, we might do a flower exercise, where they imagine using their sitting bones to root, and use their breath to blossom. We’ll talk as a group about what kind of flower they choose to be. Or we’ll do an activity where they make up their own yoga pose, name it and then teach it to the group.”
Rosenberg observes that there are significant health benefits to a regular yoga practice, no matter how small the yogi or yogini. “In addition to increased mental and physical flexibility, yoga has been shown to have a beneficial impact on children’s health concerns like obesity, juvenile diabetes and attention disorders. There is a great connection between the mind and body, and I find that the immediate encouragement of simple physical successes can be extremely rewarding to children, and often provides an ideal balance to their normal daily activities.”
Emphasis on fun
The camps will be held for three age groups that Rosenberg has designated: Eagle group is for ages 5 to 8; Tree group is for ages 9 to 11 and Butterfly group is for ages 11 to 15. Camps include daily yoga sessions, art projects and healthy snacks. Each class typically features stories, games, partner dynamics, animal sounds and, Rosenberg promises, lots of laughter. For all of the groups, there will be an emphasis on creating self-confidence, body appreciation and centered, focused minds. Classes for older kids will include elements such as journaling, time for self-reflection and group discussions.
“Yoga camp is a chance for children to learn how to show up and tap into their own inner strength and power. When they learn to be truly in their bodies, it helps them create their own true selves, whatever age they are,” she says. “Plus, we have a whole lot of fun!”
For camp schedules and registration, visit blooma.com or call 612-223-8064. To download the app, visit adventuresofsuperstretch.com or the Super Stretch Yoga app in the iTunes store.
Yoga anytime, anywhere: Adventures of Super Stretch app
Rosenberg’s app allows kids and families to do yoga at home or on the road, and delivers each pose with a compelling story that keeps kids engaged and moving. Sarah Deziel, a Minneapolis mother of two daughters, says that her four- and two-year-old have done yoga with Jes, and love the daily reinforcement that the app provides. “They use the Super Stretch app every day, and they now take deep breaths when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. My older one will move into up dog when she has a tummy ache, the way Super Stretch has told her to do,” she says.
For Deziel, yoga has become a family habit. “We practice yoga together a lot, and I love that it is something that they can feel a part of and can understand what I’m up to when I go to take a class. I’m also a yoga instructor, teaching mainly out in my driveway in the summers, to friends and neighbors,” she says, adding, “Now my daughters think that they can teach to their friends and will set up a mock class. I’m grateful that yoga can be so accessible and fun for our family.”
The super-hero character, Super Stretch, asks kids to “Make NAMASTE part of their day.”
Nothing is impossible
Always be honest
Make the world a better place
Act with kindness
Share with others
Tell the truth
Enjoy and have fun
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