The kids are excited. They’ve been looking forward to class all week.
As they take their shoes off and carry yoga mats inside the room, they chatter about which poses – all named after animals – are their favorites. Cat, dragon, and frog poses are among the top picks.
“My daughter, Jillian, adores yoga and is always eager to go to class,” says Linh Cundiff, a mom whose daughter has been taking classes with Boulder Yoga Kids for two years. “Yoga class is a wonderful way for her to have fun and relax while building both physical and inner strength. Teri is a caring and outstanding teacher – she really gets to know each child and the kids learn so much from her.”
The Boulder Yoga Kids classes for preschoolers and elementary school-aged children are full of exuberance and imagination as well as quiet time and inner work: a holistic mixture of creative play; fun and challenging exercises; and lessons in mindfulness, focus, and breathing. The classes are small and personalized, and Boulder Yoga Kids founder and certified yoga instructor Teri Jacobson knows each child, their interests, and how they relate to each other as she takes turns giving each child her attention and assistance.
“It’s truly a joy to teach classes to kids this age and see their bright sparks of vitality and imagination,” affirms Teri. “I like the challenge of guiding that physical and emotional energy towards healthy exercise and positive thinking that can serve them for a lifetime.”
Aligning Body, Mind, Spirit, Heart
Boulder Yoga Kids classes for four- to ten-year-olds give children time to unwind through hands-on exploration, self-expression, and simple, creative routines that involve plenty of storytelling, music, singing, games, toys, visualizations, and even coloring and drawing in a nurturing, noncompetitive atmosphere. The asanas or movements, based on animals and integrated into themes developed by Teri, draw children into make-believe worlds through interactive pretend play, which has been shown to be critical for social and emotional development, self-regulation, and cognitive flexibility.
“Children express themselves through their bodies,” explains Teri. “Yoga movements and breath work empower children to become aware of their bodies, thoughts, and emotions.”
The class begins with sun salutation before the little yogis launch into warm up asanas including cat, cow, cobra, and downward dog poses while they meow, moo, hiss, and bark. As they are warming up, Teri observes them closely to consider their activity level and moods. If they are feeling rambunctious, Teri incorporates physically exerting movements and exercises. Conversely, she provides extra time for breath work and quiet guided imagery if they are feeling sluggish or irritable.
A crucial part of the class is teaching the children mindfulness and ways to cultivate self-composure through tools for self-calming and emotional control. Teri applies aromatherapy to draw their focus inwards. She dabs calming lavender oil on the palms of their hands, asking them to close their eyes and savor the captivating fragrance. Afterwards they each take a turn ringing a bronze Tibetan bell as they sit still and listen to its sonorous vibrations. She ushers them to connect to their breath as they pass around a multicolored plastic Hoberman sphere, which they rhythmically expand when they inhale and close as they exhale. They also practice sitting serenely in an upright posture and imagine a rope follows their spine downwards into the earth where it spreads like the roots of a tree. The tree visualization makes them feel proud and tall, grounded and supported, aware of their bodies, and harmoniously connected with the deeper parts of themselves and surroundings.
Once they are feeling soothed and centered, they embark on a yoga journey or adventure, for example, marching in a circle pretending they are at a zoo or in an imaginary jungle or forest, stopping at intervals as they act out their favorite animal. They also practice a series of asanas including frog, shark, turtle, dragon, horse, and gorilla poses, and even partner and group movements. One highlight is rolly polly pose: they pull their legs towards their chest to give themselves a big hug while rocking back and forth. Then they draw and color pictures that are in keeping with the day’s topics or theme. Teri plans seasonal, environmental, or holiday themed stories that feature characters, poses, games, music, and pictures so each class is unique and engaging.
At the end of the class, the kids leave the yoga room to greet their awaiting parents and hand them the pictures they colored. The children are visibly upbeat and refreshed.
Call or email to take a tour of the studio and see class demos on Boulder Yoga Kids channel on YouTube. Also check out Boulder Yoga Kids on Facebook.
Boulder Yoga Kids:
1800 30th Street (north of Canyon), Suite 305 (in the Crossroads Gardens building)
Boulder, Colorado 80301
Ph: (303) 588-4092
Boulder Yoga Kids is our December Featured Friend. We are sharing their story in this space all month.