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

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Then, once the breathing exercise has calmed everyone down from the initial excitement of starting class, an instructor will lead a “mindful moment” or short guided meditation.

“I’ll have them close their eyes if they’re comfortable with that and give them something to think about for a minute,” Leong said.

The third step usually involves a little more movement and a standing pose or two, maybe a simplified sun salutation. Following the first standing series, the instructor will lead a social-emotional game. These games focus on empathy, emotional awareness, communicating and community building.

Next, “We’ll go back into some more physical yoga … (and) I’ll bring it back down maybe with a bridge or wheel pose (and finally) relaxation pose.”

The class usually ends with a final guided meditation.

“They really like that,” Leong said. “Depending on the age that may only be a minute. Just giving them something to think about for a minute or a story or a scripted guided meditation, a poem, a progressive muscle relaxation.”

Recently the program has also been shown to have promising effects on attention and hyperactivity disorders.

“Yoga is great for lots of reasons for ADHD,” said Naomi Leong, a mental health counselor and Yoga Calm instructor at Browne’s Addition. “It helps with focus, self control, then there’s the mindfulness aspects of it. That helps strengthen the thinking part of the brain so that kids are less impulsive, more responsive, less reactive. (It) allows kids to be more in the present moment, to have a little more space to slow down and to choose their actions.”

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