Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kids Learn the Magic of Yoga at the Magic House

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kids Learn the Magic of Yoga at the Magic House

Article excerpt

A new yoga class in Kirkwood is in high demand and filling its rosters with young children.

The Magic House St. Louis Children's Museum is hosting yoga classes for kids between 2 and 5. The program, called the Art of Yoga, introduces the pre-K pupils and their guardians to poses out of a book called "You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses" by Tae- Eun Yoo.

Teachers read the book to the class and encourage students to pretend they are the animal they are posing, such as a butterfly, dog or frog. Focusing on one pose each week, the class later gets to make an art project inspired by that animal.

Melissa Swank, a staff member at the Magic House, works for the museum's community health initiative and leads the class. Swank is a certified yoga instructor and said much of the idea for the Art of Yoga came from her kids 2 and 4 who like to join in on her yoga sessions at home.

"It's something that I know that kids can do and they enjoy, and they love moving and making little animal sounds," she said.

Getting the kids involved at a young age also helps them to establish healthy habits, Swank said.

"We're really trying to keep that interest when they're still sponges," she said.

During last Thursday's first class, Swank and the other instructor, Brianna Coppersmith, led the kids and adults through a series of warm-up exercises, such as pretending to be airplanes and trains as they circled the room. The class did stretches that acted out the lyrics to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" before beginning animal poses.

Many children enthusiastically roared like lions and hissed like snakes. Some were more hesitant to join in the poses. Others had a hard time focusing.

One exercise that the class loved involved a balloon on Wednesday and a feather on Thursday. Swank instructed students to tilt their heads back and try to keep the object in the air by blowing on it.

On Thursday, even when the instructor moved on, many kids continued to play with the feathers and tried to keep them in the air. Moms and grandmas could be seen trying to hide the feathers, to no avail. One mom, Emily Tochtrop, had to hide the feathers under her yoga mat. …

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