Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - Feb. 2014

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Little yogis Yoga camps help kids find their inner 'happy baby' By LINDA FREEMAN A bout 50 kids march into the gym chanting, "Go yoga! Go yoga! Go yoga!" They wave their small fists in the air and clutch their beach towels. In my 10 years of teaching yoga, this is my most unique greeting yet. It's my third summer at Camp Wiltmeet, a YMCA camp run out of public schools in New Paltz. We're at the Lenape Elementary School, but in past years we've been at the Duzine School. Our first summer we squeezed into the music room, but the optional class has become so popular over the years that we now pack the gymnasium. Why are all these kids lined up for yoga inside a stifling gym on a hot summer afternoon when they could have opted to play water tag outside? And why are they so excited about it? Some tell me their mothers or grandmothers practice yoga. More than a few already know the names of some of the postures. For these kids, it's an opportunity to do something their mom or grandma does, to proudly tell her, "I did a tree pose today." For others, they want to do what their friends are doing. But ultimately, it's the practice itself that compels them. Ancient discipline Yoga is an ancient practice of mental, physical and spiritual discipline grounded in a philosophical system chronicled in The Yoga Sutras, a 2000-year-old text. While all 196 verses are enlightening, I particularly relate to Sutra 1.2: "Yoga is when the thought patterns of our everyday mind, together with 20 Hudson Valley Parent n February 2014 Campers at Yoga Way compare their "happy thought" bracelets. The beads represent positive thoughts and the craft teaches children the value of repeating these thoughts — an exercise that gives children a tool to manage fear, sadness, anger or any challenging situation. all the desires, worries, fears and anxieties come to rest." Isn't this an important place to be for us all, but especially for children who, as carefree as we like to think they are, may experience worries, fears and anxieties that adults can't even imagine? Yoga gives the children permission to simply be inside themselves and release the exterior world. After one class, a tiny boy with big eyes wandered over to me and said, "Thank you for teaching me the HAH breath." This form of breath work involves inhaling while sweeping your arms up over your head and loudly exclaiming HAH as your arms float down. Extremely calming to the entire nervous system, it's one of my favorite ways to open a yoga class and get the kids focused and ready to practice. "You know, you can do the HAH breath whenever you feel nervous or scared," I tell him. He nods, "Yes, I can do it when I have my panic attacks." Naturally flexible The physical aspect of yoga, the one that concerns itself with asanas (postures) and pranayama

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