Young yogis: Yoga Calm Class helps kids with exercise, mindfulness

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Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are already popular among adults today, but parents are discovering more and more the benefits these can have for their children.

“Yoga Calm” is a children’s yoga and mindfulness program used in schools and community wellness centers all over the United States. It was developed to help children and adolescents learn to manage stress, difficult emotions, behavioral issues and social anxiety early on. Locally, the program is used by instructors at the Browne’s Addition Wellness Center, 2013 W. 4th Ave.

“Something about everybody doing the same things together helps the kids get grounded and become aware of how they fit in with the group,” said Naomi Leong, a mental health counselor and Yoga Calm instructor at the wellness center. “Breathing together and moving together is really important.”

The program is tailored to the needs of children and young people learning to manage social anxiety or struggling to sit still for extended periods.

“There are lots of social and emotional learning games worked into the program,” Leong said. “So it’s not just the physical yoga, it’s not just breathing exercises, it’s moving around and being active and interacting with your peers, developing a sense of community.”

Every Yoga Calm class is structured according to these five principles: community, strength, listening, grounding and stillness.

The actual class structure can vary, but the sequences usually alternate between physically focused and more calming activities.

A typical class will start with a breathing exercise. The kids take turns demonstrating proper deep breathing technique with the help of a Hoberman sphere. “They would honestly do that all day until everyone had a turn,” Leong added.

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