- Written by Kim Sharpe Kim Sharpe
Balance bodies and minds with a regular practice
Balance. It's a state so many of us try to achieve in this fast-paced, seemingly out-of-control world in which we live. Practicing yoga is one way to help bring balance to our bodies and minds.
Carolyn Valencia, a librarian with High Plain Libraries in Weld County and certified yoga instructor, says, "Yoga is a way to calm your mind. The asanas (postures) are meant to condition the body…so, it’s a healthy body, healthy mind 'marriage.'"
Valencia developed the yoga story times offered at High Plains Libraries. "I take my yoga story times into our communities. Kids enrolled with our CEEN Head Start Programs and the Immigrants and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado’s Little Learners Preschool play yoga with me on a regular basis."
People of all ages and abilities can participate in yoga. Whitney Jaganmati Barry, registered children's yoga teacher and manager of Om Ananda Yoga Studio in Fort Collins, says "Children can start baby and me classes with a parent/caregiver at age 6 weeks. There are toddler classes for parent/caregivers to join with around 2- to 3-year olds. Four years old is when children can come to class by themselves. And really, yoga practice begins in the womb when mama takes prenatal yoga."
"Yoga is a great family activity that's all about togetherness," says Shannon Westcott, another registered children's yoga teacher at Om Ananda Yoga Studio. "It's a great way to make time to focus just on each other. Partner and group poses and silly games are fantastic ways to connect with each other. Let your child learn from you. Be goofy. Let them see you struggle with a pose. The time together is most important."
To get started, Westcott says to "Declare it’s family yoga time! Set up mats, limit distractions and just start showing your family some easy yoga poses."
Try some online yoga videos. Valencia's favorites are Kidding Around Yoga (https://kiddingaroundyoga.com), Karma Kid’s Yoga (www.karmakidsyoga.com), Musical Adventures (www.musicalyogaadventures.com) and www.GoNoodles.com. Of course, yoga studios, community rec centers and libraries throughout NoCo offer yoga classes for kids and families, too, if you want some in-person guidance and instruction.
Valencia says, “When you teach kids yoga, you teach them how to look inside and find their own answers, how to feel calm and centered, which is so incredibly empowering for them. It is simple and profound, don't miss the opportunity! Why wouldn't you?!"
Benefits of kids yoga
- Improves physical balance, strength, flexibility, coordination and self-control (body awareness)
- Calms the emotions, as well as the body and mind
- Teaches how to pause and take a break
- Reduces stress and anxiety (which in turn boosts the immune system)
- Empowers children to self-regulate (healthy coping skills)
- Strengthens ability to focus and concentrate
- Cultivates imagination, play, creative and spontaneity
- Teaches self-acceptance and acceptance of others.
Courtesy of Whitney Jaganmati Barry, registered children's yoga teacher and Om Ananda Yoga Studio manager