The popularity of yoga has grown exponentially in recent years and with good reason. The list of physical and mental benefits of practicing yoga is considerable and parents and educators have been taking note. A national survey found that 3% of U.S. children (1.7 million) did yoga as of 2012, a jump from 400,000 in 2007. With plenty of scientific evidence that shows the positive impact of yoga on mind, body, and soul and more meditation being taught in the classroom, we can only see this number rising.
To learn a little more, we recently spent a morning with San Francisco-based yoga instructor and kindergarten teacher Tara McLaughlin at the beautiful MNT Studio. Tara’s early exposure to yoga as a high school student has inspired her to share the practice of yoga and mindfulness with youth. And, as we watched her in practice, it’s clear she has a major gift when it comes to teaching littles. “Yoga and mindfulness is such a powerful tool to share with children of all ages because it can improve children’s physical, mental, and emotional health,” she explains. “Yoga helps children develop focus and concentration skills that will enhance their learning in the classroom and has also been linked to improvements in ADD/ADHD, insomnia, anxiety, and many more health-related issues.”
In addition to teaching yoga and kindergarten, Tara works with The Art of Yoga Project to share the practice of yoga with marginalized teen girls in the juvenile justice system. She’s also leading a yoga workshop in Croatia on October 11-16 this year.
With three eager kiddo volunteers in tow, we took over one of MNT’s serene studio spaces to try out some poses that are perfect for children of all ages. Check out the photos below to see some of Tara’s favorite poses to try with your little yogi or yogini at home. As she advises: “Don’t worry too much about proper alignment or attaining the perfect pose. Have your child focus on the breath, listen to his or her body, and have fun with the process!” Namaste, indeed.
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