EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Poor sleep to high anxiety. The practice of yoga can be helpful for people of all ages.
The practice of yoga is meant to connect the mind, body, and spirit through poses and mantras. Even children can benefit from yoga.
The COVID-19 pandemic created high stress and anxiety levels for many people including school-aged children. From mask mandates, to virtual learning, to social distancing, kids have had to adapt constantly to changes in their everyday lives.
One way to help kids cope with these abrupt changes is through yoga, and practicing mindfulness.
Chelsea Manganaro is a children’s yoga instructor who teaches a yoga program at her fitness studio, Near Me Yoga in Moosic. Yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices aimed to control and still the mind.
“We include a lot of calming the body and mind so they can relax instead of the idea we have to burn the energy out, sometimes that increases the energy so we allow ourselves to listen to our body and slow the heart rate so we can relax,” Manganaro said.
And they learn to relax by holding poses, repeating mantras, coloring and even playing fun games. And that’s not all. These kids also learn how to express their emotions with the help of a worry rock.
“This allows them to connect with how they’re feeling and express it, tell people what’s going on in the mind,” Manganaro said.
Carla Beadle’s eight-year-old granddaughter, Rosie May, has been attending yoga classes at Near Me Yoga for the past two years. For Rosie May, The lessons learned extend far beyond the classroom.
“She uses it at home. If she gets frustrated, she uses the skills Chelsea taught her to calm herself down with meditation, go do some stretches. She even records herself doing yoga videos. She really loves it,” Beadle said.
Yoga also offers the opportunity to find mindfulness.
“Mindfulness and kids yoga go hand in hand,” Manganaro said.
“Mindfulness means being tuned in to the present moment without judgement,” Clinical Psychologist Dr. David Palmiter said.
Another form of practicing mindfulness can be as simple as going for a beauty walk , simply going on a leisurely walk, taking pictures with your phone, any activity that helps you focus on the here and now.
“Usually in the moment we’re ok, just tuning in to details is a natural calming influence,” Dr. Palmiter said.
And calming the mind is key when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Chelsea says her students have increased flexibility, develop confidence, have improved concentration and sleep better.