Buzz surrounds children’s yoga classes – Columbus Dispatch

The Powell branch of the Delaware County District Library was full of children on Saturday
morning. But rather than sitting huddled around and hushed for story time, they were spread out on
separate mats, barefoot and ready for yoga.

Truly putting the “child” in “child’s pose,” eight youngsters, most between the ages of 5 and 8,
mimicked the moves of instructor Kate Burke during the children’s yoga class.

Throughout the half-hour session, Burke guided the class through yoga poses and movements, often
incorporating animal comparisons and sound effects.

“Cat, arch your back! Cow, belly hangs low,” she said as the class moved along while
In the Jungle played from a small speaker.

The session also incorporated a brief relaxation period, where children could place a cool,
damp, lavender-scented cloth on their foreheads, lay down, stay still and close their eyes.

Some kids wiggled more than others. Some parents muttered that they’d like to participate.

For some children, like Kiley Parmer, of Powell, the yoga class was a first. The 5-year-old
preferred the more mellow, relaxation portion of the class, she said.

“It kept them very engaged,” said her mother, Allison Parmer. “It was easy for her to do as a
beginner.”

Saturday wasn’t the first time on the mat for Gillian Anthony. The 5-year-old from Worthington
has done children’s yoga classes before through her pediatrician’s yoga studio. She truly got
started, though, when she was in the womb, said her mother, Laura Anthony, who participated in
mother and baby yoga. The young pro’s favorite part of the session was the tree pose, standing on
one leg with arms stretched above her head, she said.

The library first began offering the classes last summer. The sessions are free, but require
pre-registration due to limited space. The library usually ends up with a wait list for most
sessions, said Jenny Heslop, the library’s youth services specialist. The library also plans to
begin a class for older children, ages 8 to 12, starting with a class on Jan. 30.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding children’s yoga, said Lindy Weaver, occupational therapist
with the Adolescent Medicine and Behavioral Health departments at Nationwide Children’s
Hospital.

“(Yoga classes) really do cater to a child’s need for movement,” she said. “It’s wildly
popular.”

Burke, who started her Upward Dogs Kids Yoga business a year and a half ago, teaches about 10 to
15 classes a week at area preschools, parks and recreation programs, Girl Scout meetings and other
places throughout Powell and Dublin. She is even busier in the summer when children’s camps are up
and running, she said.

Yoga, when using the appropriate level of challenge, can help children develop body awareness,
motor development and help them feel connected to and in control of their bodies, Weaver said.
Though the benefits of yoga have been better studied in adults, there’s a growing interest in
better understanding the particular benefit for children and teens, she said.

Burke said she aims to instill in children the things that yoga is about, like being present,
“going inward” and quieting the mind. But she tries to stay flexible and keep it light, she
said.

“You definitely have to be goofy, you can’t be too serious,” she said.


jsmola@dispatch.com

@jennsmola