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Move Over Squirt, Kids Get To Do Halasana

Once upon a time in a city far away, kids yoga classes only existed in one or two studios and perhaps the JCC…fast forward to 2013 and kids classes are popping up on the schedule at almost every adult yoga studio. Some are just tipping their toes in with one class whereas others have added a full schedule. Why the sudden surge? We wanted to find out, so we asked several how it came about.

Studios in neighborhoods with lots of families want yoga to be available for everyone, said many Meditation, pranayama and asana are accessible to young kids as well as adults, explained Ramit Kreitner, Co-Dirctor of Jaya East Brooklyn, so why not offer it to them? Since the studio is in a neighborhood full of families, they wanted to create more of a community feel in their own place, she added.

Stephanie Tang, the owner of Sacred Sound Yoga added kids classes for a somewhat similar reason –all the schools were there. “We have a number of nursery and elementary schools within walking distance, and many of our students had asked about classes for their children.”

House of Jai on 1st Avenue is a real neighborhood studio, as well, With an extensive kids program, they want the children to have a sense of community from seeing their classmates on a weekly basis. But equally important, they wanted to give NYC teenagers, a structure for how to live in a tough, commericial city. My dream is for our teenagers to approach the world with a non-judgmental, open heart," wrote co-owner Erin Fogel.

The kids program at Kula Yoga Williamsburg is the brain-child of Co-Owner Schuyler Grant, who has three kids of her own. She wanted to offer her students – many mothers and fathers - who are parents something programmed at the same time as the adult classes. It eases hectic schedules, babysitting problems and creates an activity all the family can participate in.

OM Factory’s came about because the kids thought it looked hot. For five years, the studio has been part of the annual Kite Flight at Port Authority where yogis performed AcroYoga. After seeing it, parents and kids kept asking for a program for the under-12 set and so they set up an aerial class for the 5 to 8 year olds. We are excited about growing our Factory Kids program to include AcroYoga as well,” says teacher Adam Rinder.

It’s wonderful that studios are offering classes for children, but are they growing?

Classes are small, but successful at most of the studios, we talked to. OM Factory and Jaya Yoga are excited to see their kids programs grow as word spreads around the neighborhoods. House of Jai is also offering a great deal to get more little yogis in the door, three kids classes for $50 for first time students!

What do the kids-only studios think of adult studios moving into their territory?

Kids know that these studios were created just for them, says Shari Vilchez-Blatt, of Karma Kids Yoga. Bright painted walls, soft cushioned floors, puppets, story books and colorful mats are just a few of the special things that the younger set finds at their own club..Karma Kids Yoga studio is referred to as “magical” for good reason – it is.

These studios also offer the widest variety of classes and times for kids to play yoga. And they offer tons of classes throughout the day, so they are able to narrow their classes down to smaller age groups and more age-specific programs, says co-owner Lauren Chaitoff of Yogi Beans.

They’ve kidified philosophies out as well – Bean’s ahimsa Yama: …”Yet we also learn not to hit, bite, pinch, scratch or fight, Since ahimsa teaches us to recognize each person's light.” (Some adults are still trying to learn that one.)

Whether you want your child to have their own special place, or join mom at the studio where she disappears two to three times a week, the overall consensus is that kids can get just as much from a downward dog and a few deep breaths as adults can. Here is hoping, the trend will continue and even more kids will be saluting the sun!

-Margie Suvalle Fischel

-illustration: Shelby McChord

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