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With their over-stimulated minds and over-scheduled lives, it’s no easy chore to get a group of pre-teens to take an hour and simply chill out. But here they were, gathered within the calm confines of a tranquil room, free from smartphones, parents, schoolwork, and a seemingly endless array of obligations. Yoga was about to do the unthinkable -- allow them the rare opportunity to re-charge and re-balance their bodies and minds.
The number of Americans participating in yoga is at an all-time high, according to Yoga Journal, with over 20 million practicing. And not all of them are adults; many kids are now taking to the mat.
There are three main components to the “tweens” class at Roots Yoga in Burlington -- flexibility, focus, and fun.
The hour-long session started with a share circle. This gave kids the chance to share something about their day or get things off their chest. Missed homework assignments, a bad grade, or even an encounter with a bully, are all but forgotten as they let it out, let it go, and begin to settle into their practice.
To get the blood flowing, the instructor led them through a series of traditional poses, flows, and stretches commonly found in adult classes. But there’s also an element of playfulness thrown in, with fun games and poses done in conjunction with partners. Midway through, the kids got in touch with their inner-Gumby and took turns bending, winding, and willowing their bodies into different contortions. All the while, they smiled, laughed, and encouraged each other in a space that was heavy on inclusion and free from competition.
A good amount of time is also devoted to what’s called standing balance poses, where the name of the game is focus. With lives saturated in multi-tasking, these poses allow them to focus solely on the task at hand. If your focus drifts, you fall. It’s that simple -- yet incredibly challenging at the same time.
The final 10 minutes of class were reserved for a relaxation phase called savasana. The kids stretched out onto their mats, took a deep breath, and relaxed. You actually saw their bodies immediately begin to decompress as their minds slowed down to a snail’s pace. I have an incredibly hard time sitting still in this pose and thought they would too, but, much to my surprise, they not only embraced it, they actually seemed to savor it.
Once the hour was over it was back to reality, as they were shuttled off to activities such as soccer practice, which would no doubt be followed by a night of homework. Only this time they would conquer it relaxed, refreshed, and revitalized.
Roots Yoga, Burlington, www.myrootsyoga.com, see web site for schedule and pricing