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Mom Life: Child's pose

Mon, Nov 19th 2018 12:00 pm
Jr. starts to get in on the action.
Jr. starts to get in on the action.
Kids are learning important life principles through yoga, but finding qualified instruction can be a challenge.
By Michelle Blackley Glynn
Up until three days before I went into labor, I found myself on the mat - the yoga mat, that is.
Practicing this Hindu spiritual discipline became routine in my early 20s. Starting at an ashram in Manhattan where I was introduced to mindfulness meditation, to a studio in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts where I discovered Vinyasa (matching breath with movement) yoga.
As my career required more travel and a move home to Buffalo, I found comfort in an at-home studio and yoga instructors on the internet. But in the spring of 2016, I received news a Jr. was on the way - and I didn't feel comfortable researching safe poses on my own.
That's when Yoga Parkside opened its doors for me.
For months, yoga positions such as down dog and cat-cow not only set me up for happy and productive days, but pre-natal yoga also eased my anxiety and introduced me to likeminded expectant mothers.
I knew that once Jr. arrived I didn't want a practice that had become integral to my life for almost 20 years to go to the wayside. Thankfully, that same yoga studio in North Buffalo offered a full slate of baby yoga classes.
Armed with my bundle of joy under one arm and once again a yoga mat in the other, Jr. was introduced to yoga at just a few months old. Although he wasn't aware the post-natal poses were bringing me back mind and body, we were bonding and he was socializing with other babies.
Research has shown the adoption of the specific bodily postures used in yoga is widely practiced for health and relaxation, and that's a good thing when you expose a baby, as well.
"It's very exciting that kids yoga is growing in popularity. This practice has endless benefits for humans of all ages, and it's never too young for a child to start learning mindfulness, healthy attitudes towards being in their body, emotional regulation, and experience the physical and mental outlet that yoga provides," said Megan Callahan, Yoga Parkside studio owner and instructor.
Before you introduce a tiny human to a physical activity, certain safeguards are necessary. The instructor should be fully aware when working with children, and a parent should be present. Older children do not understand the limits of their bodies. A qualified instructor knows a yoga class is not an exercise regime, but a lifestyle. A trustworthy yoga studio understands kids should not hold poses as long as adults, and intensive yoga such as hot yoga should not allow children or pregnant women to participate.
"When picking a kids yoga program and teacher, it's important to make sure the class is well-rounded. There are many movement-based opportunities for children, but what makes yoga unique is the way that it weaves self-awareness, concepts of self-care, yogic principles (kindness, truthfulness and honoring our limits,) and mindfulness," Callahan said.
Try to find a certified yoga teacher, or a registered yoga teacher (RYT) - a distinction given to yoga teachers who training and teaching experience meet the requirements of Yoga Alliance (the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community). An RYT must complete training with a registered yoga school, be confirmed by Yoga Alliance and current with continuing education.
Also, find a teacher with special training courses for working with kids.
Yoga should be taught to children in a fun way, using games, songs and props (toys), according to Callahan, but be cautious to make sure the class has some real content that will be of benefit to your child and family.
"Additionally, a teacher of very young yogis should be well-rounded and experienced, and not be flustered by kids being kids, but instead continually and lovingly model ways of being the kids can emulate," she said.
While practicing yoga with a baby can be relatively calm, putting a walking toddler onto the mat can be a totally different experience; but don't fret. Even if they don't sit still or strike the poses upon instruction, these little yogis are still absorbing useful skills.
Yoga can help a toddler physically process their experiences, control their emotions and self-soothe. Pausing to take a breath before moving on is good practice for anyone.
At-Home Studio
Creating an at-home studio can be a way to continue the practice, especially when winter weather prevents travel.
  • Choose a quiet space away from electronics and toys.
  • Rely on a book or online instruction.
  • Author and yoga instructor Helen Garabedian is an excellent source for age-appropriate poses, or yoga teacher Tara Stiles who is a new mother.
  • Select music that can help children focus and relax during practice.
On the Road
Traveling doesn't mean giving up a yoga routine. At many kid-friendly hotels and resorts, yoga programs are now offered. At the Coconut Bay Resort in St. Lucia, children 12 and older are welcome to participate in a yoga class at the Wedding Gazebo. Enjoy a class with Vernon and feel the Caribbean breeze, hear the crashing waves and catch the sunrise while in sun salutation before starting the day.
Michelle Blackley Glynn blogs at www.PearlsPlatesPlanes.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at shellblackley.

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