The first time I brought my son, Milo, to a hot yoga class, he was nine years old.
It was one of the open house/free yoga days that Norman O’Neil and Louise Giordani hosted when they owned the Nashua studio. Milo had been curious about this yoga thing that I was always doing, and he decided to try it.
The original plan was for him to sit out in the lobby for the first half of class and join us for the floor series, but Norman, always so encouraging, said, “Aw, he looks like a strong kid! Try the whole thing, Milo!”
So Milo and I set up on matching side-by-side beach towels in the front row. And wouldn’t you know, that nine year old kid was a total champ.
He wasn’t always sure what to do with his body. He sat out some poses and whispered, “Is this almost over?” a few times. He drank all of his water and a lot of mine. But he refused to leave the room, and he always got back up to try another posture.
Afterward, he got lots of high-fives and positive feedback for making it through class with such strength and style. He also guzzled a giant red Gatorade, which I normally didn’t let him drink. He was pumped!
On the way home, Milo talked nonstop about how great he felt, how energetic and strong and calm, all at the same time. “That was awesome. I think I’m pretty good at yoga! I feel great. I loved it.”
“I’m so glad, sweetie,” I told him. “I wish I had started yoga when I was a kid. You’re lucky! This is going to be so good for you! Let’s do it again next week, okay?!”
The poor kiddo looked at me with a pained expression. “Hmmmm. Maybe. Mom, you know, it was really hot. And really hard. Maybe I don’t want to come back right away. Maybe in a few weeks. Or a month.”
Over the 7 years since that first class, I’ve convinced (guilted, cajoled, bribed) Milo and my other son, Cyrus, to come to class with me four or five times. Both boys always work hard. They wax rhapsodic about how AWESOME they feel on the way home and their optimism and can-do levels soar for the rest of the day.
But after making it through a class, my kids always have mixed feelings about coming back.
It’s really hot.
It’s really hard.
I’ve heard this from other parents too, that their kids enjoy participating in class and feel proud of themselves afterward. Their kids are are glad to share a healthy, positive activity with other family members, they feel welcome and encouraged at the studio, but…
It’s just so hot.
It’s just so hard.
So, for a while now, I’ve been thinking…
What if we built a class that was exactly right-sized and right shaped for kids/teens?
What if we turned down the heat a little?
What if we made the class just a little shorter, a little less intense?
What if kids were able to access all the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of the 26/2 series in a format that would give them that same “That was awesome! I feel great!” reaction without the overwhelm that makes them resist a more consistent practice?
I was nothing short of thrilled when Terri gave me the go-ahead to put together a Youth Yoga class!
Since Milo came with me to that first class, I’ve become certified to teach yoga to kids, and I founded a kids’ yoga business, Friendly Yoga. I teach preschoolers to teens and everyone in between, and I’ve seen first-hand how compelling yoga is for kids, especially when paired with relaxation and social connection. So many kids need tools for coping with stress and anxiety. So many kids don’t move as much as they should. So many kids spend too much of the day curled over their tablets and cell phones.
Whenever I can, I encourage my own boys, now teens, to do yoga at home to combat stress and physical discomfort. (You can read about that here.) But I’m so excited that they can now go to a studio and experience an age-appropriate, structured, therapeutically proven practice.
Our Youth Yoga class is open to kids ages 11-17.
- We’ll meet four consecutive Sundays, February 26 through March 19, 12:30-1:45.
- Kids don’t have to know anything about yoga to give it a try. Kids don’t have to be flexible to start. Kids don’t have to be strong or athletic or know how to meditate.
- They only need to be willing to try something new.
- The room will be warm (low to mid-80s) but not hot.
- We will do the same sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises done in the Beginner’s Series, but we will only do one set of some postures. The yoga practice will be interspersed with demonstrations and discussion as needed.
- Our goal is to offer a structured, challenging and highly encouraging class that will allow kids to feel first-hand how a yoga practice can reduce stress and build strength, flexibility, focus, and confidence. It’s going to be great!
The class is filling up fast, so register here soon!
I’m looking forward to keeping you up to date on our adventures!
— Ellen Olson-Brown, Bikram Yoga Chelmsford