Yoga For Two Year Olds

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"Taxi, taxi!" yelled small children in a Tuesday morning Parent & Child class at Karma Kids Yoga. They sat on scaled-down mats arranged in a circle. Having completed tree poses to represent the woods, two sisters and their mom hailed cabs by leaning side to side waving their hands. Nora, 3, announced they had arrived at the Bronx Zoo. But Lily, 18 months, preferred marching on a stack of mats.

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"That's okay," said the teacher. "You're a toddler. You can't pay attention all the time."

But when the instructor pulled out a penguin puppet, both children ran over to feed it pretend snacks.

"At that age, they believe the puppet is real," said Shari Vilchez-Blatt, founder and director of Karma Kids. "We always say goodbye to the puppet so that there's closure. Otherwise, they worry about what happened to their friend."

Instead of savasana, the kids lay on mats with their heads on pillows. Even Lily stayed still as the teacher rubbed lotion on her feet. Her mother looked relieved.

Vilchez-Blatt started Karma Kids in 2003, recently moving from 14th Street to its present location on 23rd Street. In her former career as an advertising director, she had researched children's play to develop toys and games. She said toddlers are strong visual learners who gain from experiences like smelling and going on adventures. They love repetition.