Child’s pose gets a whole new meaning when Caroline McEneaney explores how yoga can help babies, mums and bumps.
At first blush, the idea of teaching yoga to a group of three- to five-year-olds may sound like a recipe for disaster – but the increasing number of kids’ yoga classes around the city suggests yoga is for all ages.
Xia Tyson has been teaching yoga for a year and a half and has now expanded to teach kids’ classes. Believing in the vast benefits of yoga and maintaining that children can gain as much as adults from the practice, Xia has been developing a sequence that makes the basics of yoga enjoyable and understandable for young students.
The class starts with the children sitting in a circle. There are six children in the class, set up on yoga mats to form a circle. Parents are encouraged to wait downstairs in the coffee shop. After a few moments of rustling around, the children settle down. Cross legged, Xia passes around a yellow wand. The children, who are instructed only to speak if they are holding the wand, take turns around the circle saying their name, age and where they are from.
Then the yoga starts. Like many yoga classes, the sequence starts with sun salutations, where you repeat several postures in a set order, akin to a dance. Xia instructs the children to ‘say hello to the sun’ as they stand, arms outstretched, and then ‘say hello to the Earth’ as they bend over. They continue, pretending to be snakes in the grass, meowing like cats and barking like dogs while attempting the downward facing dog position on all fours, lifting their tails in the air.
The class is tied together with a narrative that Xia introduces at the beginning and weaves throughout the movements. She tells the story of a young boy speaking to his grandfather. Throughout the 40 minutes, the teacher explains to the child all the benefits of yoga – most importantly, that it feeds the imagination.
Xia introduces the children to meditation, balancing and partner yoga, where two students help each other perform a pose. Finally, the class ends as it began with the children sitting cross legged as they hum a long and peaceful ‘Om.’ After class, they instantly resume their roles as excitable youngsters, but for a short time, they were at one with the universe – in silence.
Dhs50. Tue 4pm-4.40pm. Third Place Cafe, Villa T3, Al Khalidiyah (050 134 3254).
Mums to be
Even before your young yogi is born, you and your baby can reap the benefits of yoga practice. Prenatal yoga has gained traction among expectant mothers around the world because of its emotional and physical benefits. While several studios offer yoga classes for pregnant women, there are few options for those who want to practise safely in their homes.
Sasha Quince, an Abu Dhabi-based yoga instructor, realised this and has recently released a prenatal yoga DVD. TOAD asked her about her experience and what readers can expect.
Why is yoga so important in pregnancy?
Yoga has many benefits for pregnant women because it provides a holistic approach to health. Midwives and obstetricians across the world recommend yoga during pregnancy for enhanced muscle strength and stronger breath capacity, which assists in delivery and regulation of weight.
How can expectant mums stay safe while practising yoga?
Most of the concerns have to do with inversions, which are the poses where your body is higher than your head – headstands and handstands, for example. Pregnant women shouldn’t do these. Otherwise, there are modifications for almost every posture that makes yoga perfectly safe to practise while expecting.
What is the format of the DVD?
The programme has been designed to last 65 minutes. It starts with a warm-up, followed by a series of more vigorous postures to provide a good workout and then a cool down and guided relaxation. I created this in chapters as I understand that not everyone has a full 65 minutes to practise daily, so viewers can pick and choose the parts they want to do.
Buy Prenatal Yoga from My First Gym UAE and the Canadian Medical Center or contact Sasha at email@example.com, www.letsgoyogame.com (050 349 2336). Dhs100 plus shipping and handling.