Yoga Classes for Families and Kids

“Kiddie” yoga classes challenge children and their families — and for some, test their patience. But the resulting clarity is worth it

There are many, many reasons why I love yoga. Chief among them is the calmness and presence each class instills in me. This does not mean that I am always calm or always present — anyone who follows my blog knows this — but they are states to which I aspire every day, and without that aspiration I think I’d be in a whole lotta trouble. When I undertook a 40-day yoga challenge in the beginning of the year I found myself exploring different teachers, studios, and styles, both to accommodate my schedule and to really push myself outside my comfort zone.

One of the places I landed was a kundalini class. A different type of yoga entirely from the twisty, bendy hatha classes that most people think of when they hear the word yoga, kundalini involves chanting, pranayama (breathing practices), and kriya, which are repetitive exercises to purify and cleanse the body’s energy channels; they almost always involve doing one particular movement continuously or holding the arms or legs in a particular position for intervals of up to 11 minutes. In my first class I thought I might die, that my legs might fall right off my body and my shoulders would be stuck forever to my ears. But the clarity and peacefulness I took from that room was profound. So I go back, every chance I get. 

A few weeks ago, my teacher started offering a class for families with young kids (ages two-to-six). We dance and stretch and do “kiddie” kriyas, usually introduced through a story or in a song. Ironically, these classes frustrate Coraline and I the most. She usually refuses to participate, spending the class running around the perimeter of the studio or hanging onto my legs making strange dinosaur noises. Other kids her age are fully engaged, watching the teacher with rapt attention, mimicking every movement and asking for more. Not my kid.

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Of course you’re wondering why we go if she is so disinterested. And frequently, during class, I ask myself this as well. But it’s because after the first class, I would catch her walking around singing the songs and doing parts of the kriyas while she played. After the second class she asked if I could get the music so we could listen in the car. Sometimes, when she’s upset, she will sing this one song that the teacher noted was especially for times when we feel frustrated or angry. She’s absorbing all of it. And I am starting to suspect that, for me, the kids’ class is intended to be a place to exercise all that patience and presence I’m cultivating in my own practice. It ain’t easy, but I’m told that’s why they call it a practice. 

Radiant Child Yoga
Sacred Space Yoga Sanctuary, Red Hook
Fridays 12:45

Some other yoga classes for kids in the Hudson Valley:

Kids Yoga Series
Satya Yoga Center, Rhinebeck
See Web site for dates

Children’s Yoga & Toddler/Preschool Yoga
Jai Ma Yoga, New Paltz
See Web site for dates

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