HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — From tree pose, to downward facing dog, to just plain chilling out, the little tots in the kindergarten class at Alphabet Academy in Hamden are no strangers to yoga. That’s because every other week yoga instructor “Miss Lani” stops by their classroom to teach them the art of the ancient technique.
“Kids who haven’t seen me in a while get really excited that it’s yoga day and then they ask me a million questions like, ‘Are we going to do the breathing ball? Are we going to do relaxation?’ They’re just really excited for yoga,” said Lani Rosen-Gallagher.
Today they’re starting with a breathing exercise to help them get centered. A few minutes into class and an avid yogi might notice this isn’t your average yoga. “It’s the same format as an adult yoga class so they get all the same benefits you get in an adult yoga class, but it’s a lot more playful and we do a lot of animal poses so you make a lot more sounds like animals,” Rosen-Gallagher explains.
But the purpose of this class isn’t just fun and games. “One of the main goals for me as a kid’s yoga teacher is giving them the tools they can use in their normal everyday life,” Rosen-Gallagher said.
Tools like calming the body, dealing with stress, and staying focused — all things that don’t go unnoticed by their kindergarten teacher. “It’s something they actually talk about even when Miss Lani’s is not here,” explains Kindergarten Teacher Meredith Andrews. “When we talk about having calm bodies, they’ll say, I need to take a yoga breath so they breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.”
Mom Kimberly Langella says her daughter Samantha has been practicing yoga since before she could walk. “She loves yoga,” Langella said. “Actually we use yoga every day. I think she’s more centered.”
Studies show yoga can help boost grades, increase a child’s self-esteem, improve their physical health and increase their happiness. And as Rosen-Gallagher says, it’s never too early to start practicing. “If we were given those tools as a young kid — to learn how to breathe through it, to calm our bodies, calm our minds, then think about where we would be now,” Rosen-Gallagher said.
It’s a little medicine for the minds and bodies of these yogis in the making. For more information about Rosen-Gallagher’s yoga classes for kids, log on to fullofjoyyoga.com.