Kids are naturals when it comes to yoga: Ask them to stand tall like a tree, slither like a snake or curl up like a kitty, and they will naturally assume the poses that followers of yoga have been practicing for centuries. Yoga is not a sport, but rather a form of physical exercise—stretching, meditation and breathing practices that devotees claim strengthen and relax both the mind and body.
"Since children experience the world from their spiritual nature, learning yoga at this age is an ideal foundation for lifelong practice," says Kristine Greiber, a yoga instructor who specializes in teaching the smallest of yoginis. "Words and music in the form of chanting and meditation are fun and soothing. The physical postures reinforced with conscious breathing are strength and confidence building. The child yogi has tools available to best prepare for moments of stress, competitive sports, school tests and winding down for rest."
Yoga classes for kids have been sprouting up at studios, fitness centers and park district gyms across the Chicago area. Even schools are catching on: The Namaste Charter Elementary School on Chicago’s South Side includes yoga as part of its curriculum, with the belief that yoga helps children better develop skills such as balance, strength, flexibility, concentration and mindfulness.
Bubbles Academy, located on Chicago’s North Side, offers lessons for the tiniest of tots: the Blossom Bubbles yoga workshop allows time for both mom/baby bonding and post-natal strengthening for mom. Children, 2-5, can take part in the Yogini Bubbles workshop, where they’ll learn basic yoga poses in a room that resembles a prairie topped with a cloud-dotted sky.
Bloom Yoga Studio in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood also offers Parent/Baby Yoga instruction within the Itsy-Bitsy Yoga series, in addition to an array of family and child yoga offerings. For those interested in a yoga practice tied even deeper to traditions, check out the kids’ yoga programming at the Chicago Sivananda Yoga Center, where the Kids Yoga course includes movement and games based on traditional yoga poses set to stories and music, followed by guided relaxation.
Resources• Kristine Greiber teaches family yoga at 3 Pillars Health and Wellness in Hyde Park and Spirit Rising in Ravenswood, (773) 398-3451
• Bubbles Academy, 1504 N. Freemont, Chicago (312) 944-7677
• Bloom Yoga Studio, 4663 N. Rockwell, Chicago (773) 463-YOGA
• Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center1246 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago(773) 878-7771
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