Dallas students are getting fit thanks to school and after school yoga programs. Find out where area kids can build strength and get their Om on.
Adults in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have access to a vibrant and continuously expanding yoga community. Recently, the enthusiasm for the mind-body practice has spread to the younger generation through an increasing number of yoga programs available for children.
Growth of Kids Yoga in Dallas
According to Ginger Newberg, 200-Hour (HR) Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), the demand for kids’ yoga is growing at studios, gyms and in less traditional locations, such as schools and museums. Says Newberg, “Yoga is now being offered in schools and camps across the city.” Newberg credits much of the growth in children’s yoga programs to Taylor Yoss, owner of Yogees: Yoga 4 Kids. Yoss, a 200HR RYT, is one of the pioneers of yoga for kids ages 4-8 in the Dallas Metroplex. She travels to schools, studios and homes teaching her fun but disciplined style of yoga to children. She believes one reason its appeal has spread is that more people recognize that yoga is something that can help everyone especially over-scheduled, stressed-out young people. “Yoga is about the mind, body, and soul; strength, balance, and flexibility. If we teach our children the value in developing and nurturing these things now, then we can help them to grow into more well-rounded adults,” says Yoss.
In addition to programs for younger children, there is increasing interest in yoga for tweens, ages 9-14. This age group is too old to take kids’ classes but too young to take a regular class suitable for adults and teenagers. Newberg started classes for this age group because of the stress she saw in her own tween daughter. “I could see the social and school pressures, hormonal changes, intense sports schedules and sports-related injuries beginning to set in and I thought yoga would be helpful in managing the stress. I sent an email to determine interest, and the response was overwhelming.”
Benefits of Yoga for Children
As adults who practice asanas know, yoga builds both body and mind. It promotes physical strength, balance and flexibility, as well as nurtures an individual’s self-esteem and self-respect. It teaches kindness towards oneself and others. Yoss believes children receive these same benefits in a yoga class. “In addition to engaging children, yoga develops a child’s self-awareness; it shapes strong healthy bodies in a fun, non-competitive, and nurturing environment; helps kids become balanced and well-rounded; and builds patience, self-understanding and confidence.” Depending on how a class is taught, it can strengthen imagination, creative thinking, listening, and literacy skills. For example, Yoss integrates yoga poses and songs with children’s literature, having kids act out the story she reads. She feels that this helps make the practice more tangible for children because they can find the book from class at a store or library, and read it at home showing their families the different animals or characters they can become through the postures.
As for tweens, Newberg feels that they benefit from learning how to use yoga to address issues in other parts of their lives. “Many of my students who reported having trouble sleeping, now use the poses and breathing techniques we use in class to help them relax and fall asleep. They also use these strategies to manage stress in test-taking and social situations. The student-athletes I work with use the practice to prevent injury, improve their range of motion and increase mental focus, helping them to enjoy playing their sports again.”
Yoss and Newberg both note that parents notice positive changes in their children too. “Parents love to see how calm and centered their kids are when they leave class,” says Newberg. Karen Garfield, whose child Lily was one of Yoss’s students, says this about the impact yoga has had on her child, “I can honestly say that yoga transformed her. Lily became a better listener in class (noted by her teachers), a nicer friend (noted by parents), and a more patient sibling (noted by me).”
Child and Tween Yoga Programs in Dallas
The availability of classes for kids and tweens is growing and will continue to expand as the overall Dallas yoga community grows. Find yoga programs for children at the following schools, gyms, retailers and studios:
- Allen Yoga Center, Allen
- Ann and Nate Levine Academy, Dallas
- Greenhill School, Addison
- Inspire Yoga, Highland Village
- Kidville, Dallas
- Lifetime Fitness, Plano
- Move Studio, Dallas
- Sunstone Yoga, Richardson and McKinney
- Temple Emanu-El Early Childhood Education Center, Dallas
- The Da Vinci School, Dallas
- Twist Power Yoga, Dallas
- Uptown Yoga Lakewood, Dallas
- Whole Foods – Park Lane, Dallas
- Yoga Balance, McKinney
Children and family yoga is also offered during special events at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Center.
Yoga for children continues to grow. More and more fitness professionals, yoga instructors and educators are recognizing how it benefits the younger generation and incorporating it into their class schedules and curriculum. Says Yoss, “I would love for yoga to be something children do in their everyday life. It is an ideal activity to be integrated into all schools even if it is just starting the day with a breathing exercise or midday stretch.” But just as it has taken many years for adult yoga to establish itself, it will take time for kids’ yoga to become more mainstream. For now, young residents of the Dallas metro area have an increasing number of places where they can learn to fly like a butterfly and practice their downward dog.