Yoga For Kids
3 Questions with the Distillery Family Yoga Crew
This year OmT.O. is different. (Almost) every Sunday morning from June through to the end of August there will be a series of pop-up yoga classes at the Distillery District just for kids. We caught up with the instructors of the series to find out why yoga for kids is so great.
Tonic: How do kids benefit from a yoga practice?
Dana Chapman: There is a beautiful model from yoga philosophy, The 5 Maya-s, that offers a holistic view of health from the yogic perspective. The annamaya, the physical body, receives many benefits from a regular practice. While the body systems of children are positively impacted by regular yoga practice—their body gains strength and flexibility, their nervous system calms down, their immune system strengthens, their cardiovascular health improves etc.—we also hold that at the same time other layers of their being are being touched as well. For example, they become aware of their energy levels (pranamaya), they learn to watch their thoughts (manomaya), and they recognize an inner wisdom (vijnanamaya). Another benefit is how kids learn to connect with themselves and how they get to know themselves in an observant, meaningful way. Similarly, when I teach children with their parents it is incredible watching them connect to one another through this practice.
Tonic: What happens at a kids’ yoga class?
Laura Bianchi: Ideally groups are created based on needs for ages between 3 to 7 and 7 to 13, and classes are themed and planned. Expect to do yoga poses and breathing techniques in a creative and interactive way, participate in individual and group activities as well as be part of mindfulness techniques applicable throughout the class from beginning to end.
Rishma Malik: I definitely start off with some breathing techniques and almost a pseudo ceremony approach because it sets the tone of the importance to be ‘all in’ with me as I guide them to turn on their mindful abilities and we sort of enter into an agreement with the self and higher self to connect within and embrace meditation. Just as I lead an adult class with stillness and allowing mindfulness to open and connection to happen.
Tonic. Are there any concerns with kids taking yoga classes?
Laura Bianchi: Yoga is for every kid who is willing to be there, and if it is their first time, a guardian or a parent can be with them until they feel okay to be by themselves. It is important that they have a sense of what to expect from the class. Yoga can be adapted to any specific need.
Rishma Malik: My only concern is that parents be helpful to ensure kids are not starving or on a sugar high when they see me. Yoga requires presence of mind and body. whether holding tree pose or moving through a sun salute – and being exhausted or ‘hangry’ will compete with the moment. Also yoga can bring up stuff even for kids and sensitivities can come through that have more to do with stress in their own lives then the pose we are holding. I and any good well -trained KidsYoga teacher should be adept at helping children feel seen and heard and help them to heal.
Jamie Bussin is the Publisher of Tonic. Dana Chapman, Laura Bianchi and Rishma Malik are the lead instructors at the Distillery Family Yoga Series. Visit omto.ca for more information.