No longer just for adults looking for an oasis of calm in a stressful world, yoga classes are now offered to kids for its benefits.
In Kamloops, Trisha Redman is one of the few yoga instructors who offer kids yoga classes at Kamloops Hot Yoga.
In her Kids Yoga class, kids as young as two participate in activities that introduce children to yoga.
“For the little kids, one of the themes I did was a rainforest theme. So we’d have rainforest music, then we’ll read a book about the animals in the rainforest and then we’ll do the poses based on the story. We usually do artwork based on the same theme,” said Redman.
Redman, who’s finishing her apprenticeship as a teacher under YogaKids International, said yoga classes for youngsters is fairly recent in Kamloops. In fact, YogaKids International, a U.S. company that pioneered yoga for kids, only started about 20 years ago.
“As yoga became popular for adults, people have realized that it would also be beneficial for kids,” said Redman.
Yoga benefits children in many ways, said yoga instructor Marcia Wilson. Wilson taught yoga to students at Aberdeen Elementary as part of the school’s physical education curriculum.
“It’s an opportunity for kids who may not excel in traditional sports and traditional physical education programs to participate in something that does address a lot of the goals of traditional physical education classes,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, teachers noticed that students were more settled after doing yoga. Strength, balance, concentration, body awareness, emotional balance and stress management are some of the other benefits.
Certain yoga poses, like the tree pose, can also be used to teach cooperation and teamwork.
“You come in a tree pose with your foot up your leg and you bring your palm out to your neighbours. You gently push into each other’s palm, so you support each other. It’s like a very careful dance,” Wilson explained. “If you push too hard, you’ll push everybody over. If you don’t push enough, you’ll get pushed over.”
So far, the community has shown a positive response to these programs. “I’ve been surprised at how much kids like it. I really wasn’t sure (how it would be received),” said Redman who started offering the programs this year.
Candice Baytaluke said her nine-year-old daughter really liked attending Redman’s classes. “She always came out of there relaxed, smile on her face, glad that she came.”
“Towards the end of the class, my daughter Meghan and her friend led the rest of the class. (Redman) put the kids in that kind of leadership/mentoring role which I thought was amazing for kids who might be a little more shy or might not be so confident.”
The North Shore YMCA Kidz Yoga class has always been popular in the two years it’s been running, said centre manager and yoga teacher Megan Drew.
She said the centre started the classes because there’s a real need in the community for kids’ fitness programming. The program consists of breathing techniques, yoga postures, games and relaxation techniques.
“It’s a fun way to become active,” Drew added.
Wilson said yoga provides children with indispensable tools and techniques for personal development and stress management. “I think yoga has so much that it can offer to children. I think if we’re able to introduce them to something like yoga at a young age, it’s something that can really help them as they’re moving into their teenage years.”