By Rachel Grunwell
The magical power of yoga can have transformative mind, body and soul benefits for us grown-ups. This ancient practice can also uplift our little “muggles” in equal measures.
Auckland’s True Food & Yoga wellness centre has just launched yoga classes for children and so I checked out a class with my son Lachie.
Firstly, this is one of the most beautiful studios in this city. That sea-side view from Tamaki Drive, overlooking the bobbing boats and sparkling waters of Okahu Bay – and that gorgeous glimpse of the Sky Tower in the distance – is soul-lifting in itself (even in overcast weather). Inside the former Hammerheads restaurant too is stunning. Those memorable arch-windows have that wow-factor and it’s a clean and fresh decor.
But it’s the power of yoga on offer here for kids that’s out-of-this-world. Literally.
Yoga teacher Nisha Kumar-Joon invited her students to use their imagination and go on a “mystical adventure” and pretend to be in their very own spaceship in the room. So the kids gleefully zoomed about, fizzing and smiling. She inspired them to create their own stories with movement, while chilled music provided a backdrop. Other parts of the class too were equally creative. There were stretches, strength and then balance poses (imagine flying aeroplane poses here) and all of this required “focus”, which is good for brain development. While another part of the class saw the kids laying down, peaceful, eyes closed, meditative, and with a ball on their belly while they breathed (ie so the ball rose up and down on the belly so they could focus on how to correctly breathe with their diaphragm. This can powerfully calm down the nervous system).
Mid-class the kids were colouring in and drawing anything space-like including stars, moons and other-worlds.
Their parents were in another “world” too, some blissfully near the edges of the room reading lounging about on bean-bags. While others enjoyed welcome “me-time” out in the bistro on the other side of the centre.
So how was the experience for my son Lachie? Well, he walked into the class, a bit apprehensive, and knowing no one. But he tried all the yoga poses, drew a star, became a “space-ship” and loved running around the room. He giggled most over the games and loved a partner exercise with a little girl Sovinna, where they passed a ball using their feet. They both giggled, and giggled…
The kids were asked to “find their way home again” in their “spaceship” i.e. come back to their yoga mat for the closing of class. They then placed their mats in a collective star-shape. To see all their tiny hands in prayer-position to end the class was joyful.
Nisha, a hatha yoga teacher with an osteopathy background, says kids get so much out of yoga. There’s the cognitive development, physical benefits, and the emotional and spiritual sides of this practice too.
“It takes them away from their laptops and it gets them using their imaginations,” she raves.
It’s a wish for Nisha too that her little students learn “balance” in life and lots of wonderful de-stress tools as well as stretching their bodies – and imaginations.
Nic and Kelly Watt are creating a footprint in Auckland with their food and yoga offerings – and it’s wonderful to see kids are a part of their heart-filled focus.
Check out the timetable for Children’s Yoga classes at True Food & Yoga for either 3-5-year-olds and also 6-11-year-olds here:
- Rachel Grunwell is a mum, yoga teacher, marathoner, and magazine wellness columnist and writer. She regularly writes for many of NZ’s top media titles. She runs the InspiredHealth website (a lifestyle hub to inspire Kiwis to live well).
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