Did you know that Premier Pilates (www.yoga-n-pilates.com) in Warren has a Playtime Yoga Class for kids, 3-6 years-old? And that it's well-worth the $60 for 5-sessions?
My 3-year-old daughter, Amy has been doing the class for three months. Amy begs to go to class and forgives my husband for ribbing her about "going to yogurt."
Here are 5 unscientific but good reasons to enroll your child:
1. The instructor, Denise Hitch: I have taken Amy to several different yoga classes. We have had some strange instructors including 50-plus-year-old men with no skills with children!
Denise is creative, engaging and captivates the kids (and parents) for a full 45 minutes. She starts class with a yoga song, moves into a series of animal moves, uses props like plates and cups as steering wheels and for tables, and plays a series of games.
Our favorite is "musical chairs" where the kids move from mat to mat while the music is playing, and when the music stops, the kids sit in chair pose. Plus, at the end of class, she encourages the kids to clean the mats so they feel useful and important, and the parents know that there's cleanliness.
Denise also wrote a yoga children's book available on www.amazon.com called "Bamboo the Cat: An Interactive Yoga Story for Kids."
2. The Result: Relaxed & Happy Child ~ Stronger, Balanced & Focused. I practiced yoga for many years and though I hated every minute of doing it, I loved the feeling afterward. I always felt like a wet noodle and clear-minded. I slept better, was stronger and my cardio workouts were easier.
The whole "mind-body" connection is not just an "ugga-bugga" thing for adults. I see it in my own kid. My daughter leaves class happy, content even and more relaxed. She has a good appetite and is ready for a long nap.
It's also good exercise and a great way for her to burn off the macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers and cookies that toddlers and young ones love to eat.
Finally, it builds strength, balance and focus. It takes al three to be a tree, forest or windy forest. And the kids need to listen and pay attention because many of the poses require partnership.
3. Enhanced Pretend and Creativity. Though this isn't scientific, I have seen even more creativity and pretend play as a result of the class.
During class, the kids do all kinds of poses: Sleeping starfish. Dogs, cats, trees, forests, mountains, volcanos, superheros. They drive cars, ride in boats. They are frogs eating bugs, dead bugs, catepillars (see photo).
Throughout the week, my daughter not only teaches the yoga class to her friends and family but she incorporates these poses into her play. "Mommy, I'm a superhero" and she does the pose. Or "I'm a tree, blow on me so that I can be a windy forest."
4. It's on Sunday Mornings. I haven't found much to do with my toddler on Sunday mornings, much less a yoga class.
There are only so many errands we can do or meals we can take together. And the YMCA is pretty much out of the question for little ones on Sundays.
My daughter and I both look forward to something productive and physical to do on a Sunday morning. We have a regular destination and we have built the class into our regime - and I like the idea of building exercise into our routine (something I did not have growing up and am paying for now). And it's relatively inexpensive.
5. Mom likes it too. I like going. It's a nice, private studio. It's something fun for mom and daughter (or dad and son, or mom and son, or whatever combination) to do together.
Admittedly, I am really the only mom that elects to participate in the class. My daughter has started shoo-ing me away so that she can be independent and do the class on her own (like the other "big girls" who are 4-6).
For more information, go to www.yoga-n-pilates.com
Perri Richman is a working mom from Basking Ridge who writes a blog called "Words Without Whines: A Working Mom & Blogging Toddler." You can follow me at http://newworkingmominbr.blogspot.com or @workmomblogamy on www.twitter.com