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Yoga for the Young

Nurturing the Practice from an Early Age

by Felicia Brower

Young Yoga LAYoga has long been known for its excellent health benefits. Constant practice helps improve focus, clarity, flexibility, and physical strength. Yoga has also been shown to promote balance, increase circulation, improve coordination, develop core strength, and improve attention. Starting yoga at a young age can be extremely beneficial physically and mentally, and taking classes is a good way to boost social interaction and emotional growth. Local studio Nurture Yoga, in Dublin, offers several classes for children interested in practicing yoga.

Nurture Yoga Owner Jennifer Gleichauf has been expanding her children’s programs as demand continues to grow. “I started out getting requests for classes for elementary school kids, and it’s been growing out of requests for other age groups as well,” says Gleichauf.

Nurture Yoga’s Preschool Yoga class for children ages 3 to 7 was the first children’s class. It uses music, movement and storytelling to let kids express themselves and find inner peace. “We incorporate games and music and try to have a creative version of yoga that also encompasses mindfulness and meditation,” says Gleichauf.

Children ages 6 to 12 are welcome to join the elementary yoga programs. The elementary programs focus more on awareness, finding inner peace and breathing. For Gleichauf, the most surprising thing was how the kids responded positively right away. “You’d hear them say how it made them feel peaceful and how it made them feel calm. It blew me away,” says Gleichauf.

All of the classes are used to find creative ways to teach children how to focus and improve concentration and attention. “Yoga gives them an inward connection. As kids begin taking tests or become anxious or find themselves in tricky peer situations, it’s important that they have their own tools to find the calm in the storm,” says Gleichauf.

Parents looking to enjoy yoga with their children should try the Parent/Child Yoga Program, which allows parents and children to take a yoga class together. Parents also have the option of taking a class at the same time as their children’s class through the Children’s Tandem Yoga program.

In addition to the physical and mental benefits, yoga classes can be a place to develop meaningful and long-lasting friendships. Nurture Yoga’s Mommy and Baby Yoga Series is a prime example of that. “The sense of community is a big component of this class, especially for new mothers. It’s a safe and comfortable place where you can take care of yourself and your baby,” says Gleichauf. “It’s not a big yoga posing experience, but you get the same benefits in a different way. It provides you with a community and support after a huge life change.”

Children of all age ranges and activity levels can benefit from yoga. Children involved in yoga have been shown to have stronger immune systems, get better sleep, and they are able to manage chronic stress more effectively. Those active in sports will see the improvement both physically and mentally. The stretching reduces the risk of injury caused by overexertion and concentration levels tend to be more elevated.

One very important outcome of yoga in young children is the ability to be less immediately reactive and more mindful of thoughts, speech and actions. “I’ve had everything from the super shy child to an active child and how they respond varies on an individual basis,” says Gleichauf. “Some children do better in smaller classes than larger classes, but it’s welcoming towards all personalities.”

A new Yoga for Teens program will be starting in the fall for children ages 13 to 18. During the four-week class, teens will bond with each other and find ways to find peace in everyday life using skills learned through yoga.

Nurture Yoga instruction is offered through drop-in classes, or as a weekly series of classes. According to Gleichauf, “The series tends to encourage commitment, and the comfort level gets higher as they get to know each other. By the end of the class, a bond occurs.”

Location: 6017 Post Rd. For more information, call 614-975-0353 or visit Nurture-Yoga.com.

Felicia Brower is a freelance writer based in Columbus. Connect at FeliciaBrower.com or email fmbrower@gmail.com.

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