Kids Stretch their Limits with Healthy Fun Yoga isn’t just for adults. Kids also can benefit from the practice. Mariam Gates of Baptiste Yoga teaches yoga in the Boston Public Schools, and this fall she’ll conduct classes for fourth-graders in the Lexington Public Schools. A former schoolteacher, Gates developed the Pow Wow Yoga for Kids program at Baptiste Yoga…
A kids’ yoga class is not a traditional yoga class. Gates uses animal imagery to help her students, ranging in age from 4 to 14, relate to the postures. “Imagine all the things you could possibly be in a garden,” Gates says to her students during a recent Pow Wow class at the Baptiste studio in the South End.
Julia Goldman, 9, from Newton, raises her hand, “A rodent,” she says.
“Great,” says Gates. “Let’s be a mouse.” And everyone hunches down pretending to be a mouse.
Emily Clancy, 8, also from Newton, wants to be a tree. Her sister Julia, 10, likes the butterfly. The class members sit with knees bent, bottoms of their feel touching, fluttering their legs while raising their fingers to their heads to simulate the butterfly’s antennae.
The kids’ classes are much less structured than adult classes. Gates emphasizes self-esteem and body awareness. She says yoga can be beneficial for children with behavioral difficulties, including attention deficit disorder.
“Kids are naturally flexible,” says Gates. “Yoga teaches them to focus and concentrate (and) to be in touch with their entire bodies.”
And it’s fun. The class is in “prairie dog” pose (or downward dog). Peal of laughter erupt when Gates asks the class what the prairie dog does.
“He pees!” And they all lift one leg and then the other.
– Marisa Guthrie