Check out our article about Prenatal Yoga!
Toronto Yoga Mamas – Downward Dog pose
We have prepared a very special article for you that will guide you through the world of children’s yoga in Toronto. We picked some of what we reckon are the best yoga centres where you can either take your child to introduce them to yoga, or even exercise together and find more Prana in your lives. We also bring you an exclusive interview with Janet Williams – Certified Primary/Junior Teacher, Yoga Instructor and Author of the Award-winning book What I See, I Can Be: A Guided Yoga Flow for Children!
We hope this comprehensive resource will help you decide whether yoga is something you would like your child to try and that it will help you with your yoga gym choices. We promise that a little yoga will help them focus their energy in a fun and educational way and perhaps help you to manage your time with them a little better. As Janet said: Children who do yoga benefit from having skills to help self-regulate, including yoga poses to release excess physical energy, breathing exercises to help quiet the mind, meditation techniques to help process emotions, and fun yoga games to interact and socialize with other children.
Toronto Yoga Mammas have variety of courses.
They’re opening Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training class this summer.
Toronto Yoga Studios for Children
There is really no better account of this studio than the one founder of the studio, certified prenatal yoga instructor, and doula Jamie Kalynuik gives:
We are a big, bright and beautiful yoga studio in Leslieville dedicated to offering pre and postnatal yoga, wellness and education to women and their families. Yoga Mamas is a community of mamas supporting each other through the spirit of yoga and parenting. Our Philosophy is to Learn, Nurture and Connect.
At Toronto Yoga Mamas studio you can attend also doulas workshop!
Yoga Mamas have three distinct courses for you and your child. Yoga Babies is a class for babies and their caregivers (not necessarily just mamas!) to bond through yoga practice. While incorporating your little one into the yoga sequence, you also specifically cater to your postnatal needs. Previous yoga experience is not necessary, and caregivers who have practiced yoga before will find these classes are a great way to transition back to their pre-pregnancy practice. Crawlers Yoga is a yoga class for babies who are crawling or just getting used to walking. Through music, movement and engagement, babies have fun while developing gross motor skills and adults enjoy a nice yoga stretch. Tots Yoga is a class where caregivers and their toddler will move through yoga animal postures, breathing/stretching with props, movement and stillness as well as relaxation at their own pace throughout the 45 minute class. The class is led by certified Kids Yoga Instructor, Sacha Bryce.
Toronto Yoga Mamas – The TYM team brainstorm session
Most mamas join the yoga practice 4-6 weeks after baby arrives. This is a personal choice so make sure that the timing is right for you,
very helpful staff always answers all you questions. The biggest advantage of the studio is a very cosy atmosphere and a high number of certified instructors.
Spynga is a studio with an unusual combination of specialisations. They are one of the best studios when it comes to really energising yourself since you can pick between yoga and indoor cycling or a combination of the two. We however picked Spynga because of its well run children’s yoga programme.
Spynga indoor biking studio
With a fun and creative approach, more mature little yogis can start to set a foundation for a daily yoga practice as they learn about the outer and inner bodies such as feelings, body parts, yoga poses, and breathing techniques. The studio encourages little yogis to join in because yoga increases focus and self confidence that helps kids develop a positive outlook from early on. One of small drawbacks that we recognised is that the classes are for the kids of all ages and are open, which might make it a bit more challenging to manage for the yoga teachers.
The classes are taught by Rishma Malik and Cleo Haber. Rishma’s favorite pose is
Kurmasana ie: Turtle Pose. It draws me inward which I love especially because I am such an outward oriented person!
If you are a fan of smaller classes for your yoga practice, and you would like the same for your kids, Yoga Grove is just the place to go. With all class sizes limited to 5 or 6, students find that yoga is much more accessible, as the instructor is able to personalise the class to the needs, level and interests of the group, as well as to assist and interact with students throughout the classes.
Yoga Grove – Small classes. Big difference.
Our classes are purposefully kept small so that everyone can have a richer, more personalized experience of yoga. Many people find themselves lost in a large studio class, unsure if they are doing the right thing as they try to follow the instructor, and unable to ask questions or get clarification throughout the class,
says Leslie Buback, an instructor who has been studying and practicing yoga for over 22 years. Leslie is certified with Yoga Alliance International and the Canadian Yoga Alliance. After completing her initial 200 hours of training, she studied an additional 100 hours of advanced training in Yoga Therapy, philosophy, prenatal yoga and Ayurveda. In recent years, she has taken additional yoga instruction courses in Children’s yoga, and has been certified to teach Restorative Yoga, Seniors Yoga and Flow Yoga.
Yoga Grove instructor Leslie Buback
Yoga Grove offers classes for children between 13 and 17. The classes teach a variety of postures and styles to keep adolescents actively interested, engaged, and challenged.
Teens will also develop emotional equilibrium, self-esteem, concentration and resilience with the deep breathing, relaxation and meditation components of the sessions. All together, adolescents are taught to energize their bodies and calm their minds, enabling them to approach their lives with a fresh, positive outlook and the strong sense of self-worth that comes from emotional and physical wellness.
TheYogaKids is a fun and exciting program based on the philosophy of founder Jyoti Bajaj’s mentor, Shakta Kaur Khalsa’s Radiant Child Yoga Program and designed to encourage, excite, enrich and empower all those who participate. As all yoga classes, it fosters strength, creativity, focus, cooperation, and confidence for a happy, healthy and balanced life.
The Yoga Kids offers wide range of classes.
Yoga Kids offers perhaps the broadest range of classes in the wider City and these run 8 weeks in length with weekly classes, either 45 minutes or one hour apiece, depending on age group. All classes are led by yoga instructors specializing in children’s yoga. Their specialized classes include: Parent and Child Yoga for ages 6 months to 3 years old, Play Time Yoga for ages 3 to 5 years old, Big Kids Yoga for ages 6 to 9 years old, Cool Kids Yoga for ages 10 to 13 years old, Get Real Yoga for ages 14 to 18 years old and finally a Family Yoga class for all ages. Jyoti explains how are the children’s yoga classes different:
Unlike adult yoga classes, the emphasis on teaching yoga to children is rooted in fun and creativity. Yoga poses are often named after animals, e.g., the Cobra, the Camel, the Fish and Butterfly pose. In a Children’s Yoga Class, your child learns the basic yoga poses and they are encouraged to act them out, maybe play yoga games or make up yoga stories based on the name of the animal poses. In addition, your child will be introduced to basic yoga breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and visualisation exercises.
The Yoga Kids – during the session
Since yoga is non-competitive and every child is encouraged to work within their own limits it’s also possible to include children with special needs. The teacher will simply adapt poses to meet your child’s abilities. If your child requires a Helper, then make sure you let your Yoga Teacher know in advance. Jyoti says that they taught yoga to autistic children and wheel-chair bound children and it’s been well received so why not give it a try!
Interview with Janet Williams
Just as we’ve promised, we had an opportunity to ask Janet Williams couple of questions about yoga for children. Janet is a Certified Primary/Junior Teacher, Yoga Instructor and Author of the Award-winning book “What I See, I Can Be: A Guided Yoga Flow for Children”. Her book and yoga resources are available online at www.ChildrensYogaBooks.com and are in schools, homes, yoga studios and libraries coast to coast in Canada and in more than 17 countries around the world. How cool is that! Janet is also Co-Director and Lead Trainer for the Young Yoga Masters 95 Hour Kids Yoga Teacher Training Certification Program, which is a Registered Children’s Yoga School recognized by Yoga Alliance.
What do you think is the biggest positive of practicing yoga when you’re a child?
Learning yoga when you are young has the same benefits that learning to ski when you are young provides. When you are young, you simply copy what you see without fear or judgement. Children pick up the skills very quickly and benefit from having that “cellular memory” within their body. Should they not participate in the activity when they are teenagers, for whatever reason, they have more likelihood of trying it again when they become adults because they were introduced to it when they were young. The biggest positive about yoga is that it is a non-competitive activity that all children can participate in, regardless of ability level. With the overstimulation and media overload that most children are bombarded with, yoga is wonderful because it helps children slow down, focus inward, calm their mind, and stay physically healthy by stretching out their body.
When do you think is the ideal time to start practicing yoga?
You are never too young to start doing yoga. I always say that “Children are the True Yoga Masters” as they are flexible in body and mind. In fact, if you watch a baby, they are constantly doing “yoga poses”. For example, babies do the “Boat Pose” all day long, while lying down on their stomach they raise their arms and legs in the air. They seem to be able to do this effortlessly, with a big smile on their face, as they are proud of their ability to move – but as we get older we find the Boat Pose challenging and can only hold it for so long. When watching ability levels in children, there is a large range of physical abilities that they are capable of and it is a matter of what has been introduced into the child’s awareness and what they have had the opportunity to practice that makes the difference. When going into Kindergarten classrooms to teach kids about yoga, it is interesting how some children when doing Mountain Pose (which is simply lifting their arms over their head), will fall down. And yet, I have had the pleasure of seeing children, who are 2 years old, stand on 1 foot in Tree Pose and actually hold the pose. How is it that 2 year olds can do this? These 2 year olds, had parents who did yoga at home and the child simply copied what they saw. The children thought it was fun to follow along and with that began to develop their physical abilities.
What motivated you to write “What I See I Can Be”?
Since Grade One, I knew I wanted to be a Teacher. In University while completing my English degree, I was introduced to Yoga. Walking out of my first yoga class, I was amazed at the transformation I had undergone. I had gone in as a stressed out university student and came out astonished at how good my body felt and how relaxed my mind was. The inspiration for the book occurred many years later when my friend Gratia planted the seed of an idea. She shared with me her insight – that she “saw a book inside of me”. When I asked her, “What kind of book do you see?”, she was not able to describe it, except to say that she saw one there.
Janet Williams – photo by Brooke Wedlock
That night I went home and pondered this interesting insight. I took out an artist notebook and started thinking about what I could offer the world. I realised that as a Primary/Junior Teacher and Yoga Instructor and English Major from Western University, that I could write a children’s yoga book. This book would be different from what was out in the marketplace at the time. It would be written for younger children and it would engage children’s imaginations. It would also be designed to help teachers and parents, who may have never done yoga before. It would provide their children with a fun, safe and age appropriate workout. I also realised that from all my years working with kids, that I understood children’s desire to engage their imaginations and to have fun. And with that thought the title flashed through my mind “What I See, I Can Be”.
I saw that the children in the book would lead real children in school classrooms and in living rooms at home. I saw that the children in the book would have fun on an adventure discovering their natural environment. Although the name and the idea for the book came quickly in an inspired flash, it took one year to write the book. I carefully considered the Yoga Poses that would be appropriate for the classroom and homes and appropriate for the age that I was targeting, which was ages 3-9. I also carefully considered the flow of the postures.
Check out our article about Prenatal Yoga!