Anyone Up for Playing Yoga?

Adults practice yoga. Kids play yoga.

Om Kids Yoga Center, located in Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, caters exclusively to children. You will, therefore, not see grown-ups wearing see-through Lululemon pants. Instead you’ll see children of all ages on the mat. They might be led on a yoga journey in which they will head to Hawaii or Disneyland via airplane, which is a prompt to lift their wings and fly. They will play games, dance and act silly. They will lie in Shavasana while Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley croon in the background. This is no ordinary yoga class.

“Why bother,” you might ask. Is this just another activity to which over-worked/under appreciated parents are obliged to take their children? Absolutely not.

Elyse Rotondo, owner of Om Kids, started her studio to integrate her life as a mom and her passion for yoga. After being in business for several years, she’s seen the difference yoga has made in many of her students. Of course there are the physical benefits:  flexibility, strength, balance and cardiovascular health. More importantly, however, her students receive the emotional benefits of yoga as they practice patience and self-control as well as how to stay in the moment and quiet their minds.

Although yoga might not be for every kid, it’s definitely for most kids, especially those who want to be physical but aren’t into team sports. Like any yoga class, competition has no place here. There are no asana trophies. That doesn’t mean these kids stay complacent. To the contrary, they push themselves to attain the most challenging poses. As a result, they feel an immense sense of accomplishment when they do something they never thought they’d be able to do, like crow or a handstand.

Yoga is also great for kids with anxiety, or even kids with Attention Deficit Disorder. I know it sounds like an enigma:  how can a child with ADD practice yoga? I know many adults who admit they’d never make it through a yoga class due to their inability to sit still for so long. It turns out yoga is an excellent tool for teaching kids to calm their minds, and it provides a healthy way to release all that energy.

Parents, are you convinced yet?

As if this studio isn’t cool enough, it also has the cache of being home to the youngest (or at least one of the youngest) certified yoga instructors in the country, Zoe Parente. Zoe became certified to teach kids’ yoga at the tender age of 17. She’s always had an affinity for young children, having worked as a nanny and a camp counselor. A friend recommended her for the yoga camp at Om Kids so she popped into the studio and witnessed a toddler class in action. It was love at first sight.

She started out working the desk and assisting other teachers; now Zoe has classes of her own. For her, the best part is she gets to act like a kid herself; not a teenage kid on the brink of adulthood, but a real kid who can be goofy and completely at home with herself. She loves teaching kids how to have a healthy lifestyle, not only by improving their bodies but by working on their emotional well-being, too.

Unfortunately for Om Kids, Zoe’s time there will be ending this fall when she heads off to college. Until then, you can meet Zoe and all the other wonderful yoga instructors at Om Kids. Visit their website for more information about the studio as well as a full schedule of classes:  www.omkidsyogacenter.com.

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