By: Lisa Truesdale
The other day, when I was entering the rec center for a class, I passed a woman who was just heading out. She had a long blond ponytail, and over her shoulder was a purple yoga bag with her mat strapped underneath. Following close behind her was her adorable “mini me”—a little girl, about 5 or 6, with a long blond ponytail, toting a rolled-up pink yoga mat almost as big as she was.
It was sort of an “Awwwww…” moment for me, because it was just so cute the way the daughter looked just like a smaller version of her mom. But I suspect it’s also a sight that isn’t that unusual these days, because yoga for kids is a growing trend in the fitness industry. Kid-focused yoga organizations and studios are popping up all over the place. I found “mommy and me” (or “daddy and me”) yoga classes on just about every fitness-center schedule I could find when I got home later that day. Schools are even starting to offer yoga in the classroom and during P.E. In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts believe it mainly has to do with much less active play for kids and much more couch-surfing and video games. Gone are the days when kids could head outside to play in the morning, run around all day and not come back until dinnertime—and it shows.
As a proven leader in the yoga industry, Gaiam recognized the need for products to help kids get interested—and stay interested—in yoga.
“Research shows us that yoga helps build concentration, coordination, and mindfulness,” says Susan Haney, SVP and GMM at Gaiam. “Yoga is a fun way to children to develop these important skills in a creative, non-competitive environment.”
In July, Gaiam announced the release of their new Yoga for Kids product collection, and it was an instant hit. The yoga mats are sized just for kids (and easier for them to carry), and they’re splashed with bright, engaging colors and patterns. The colorful water bottles make staying hydrated more fun. There are also yoga socks and headbands, backpacks that can hold a mat, and Stay-and-Play Balls that promote healthy posture.
Because not everyone can make it to a class, Gaiam also released two special DVD programs just for kids ages 5-10, both led by children’s yoga expert Jodi Komitor. “Outer Space Blastoff” lets little ones virtually visit the planets of the solar system through yoga, with fun activities like “warming up like the sizzling-hot Venus” and “standing tall and still like the volcanoes on Mars.” “Dino-Mite Adventure” features dinosaur-related activities, like curling up like a dino egg then hatching and growing into a roaring baby brontosaurus.
Besides enticing your kids with fun and colorful yoga accessories, here are some other proven methods for getting them off the couch and onto the mat with you: