It’s a rainy afternoon at Yoga Junction, a small-town Colorado studio on Main Street in Louisville, nestled between a barber shop and a florist. With the kids seated on their mats, Laura rings the tingsha, two small brass cymbals strung together, their delicate chime slowly fading away. “We’re going to start with three oms,” Laura says to the kids, their eyes glued to her. “Om is a really beautiful sound that makes you feel peaceful,” she adds, before leading them through a sing-songy version of yoga’s classic tenor. The kids join in with confidence and a soft sense of pride. “I like to put my hands at my heart when I do it, too,” a blonde girl beams.Through the class, the kids sing songs about reaching the sky, teeter through poses, play games, and find self-expression. “With kids, it’s important for their self-confidence to be expressive in their bodies,” Laura says after class.
A yoga practitioner for 14 years and a teacher for five years, Laura Zeigler discovered yoga at 17, when a martial arts injury led her to seek more flexibility. A graduate of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, Laura began teaching kids yoga after an 11-year career as a preschool teacher. Her goal in teaching kids yoga? “To allow them to bring more awareness to their thoughts and their emotions—it’s revolutionary for kids to learn that they have control over how they feel.”Laura’s kids yoga class doesn’t look like your normal yoga class. The mats are arranged in a circle, facing each other— “Like flower petals,” five-year-old Imara smiles shyly, adding that the flower shape is one of her favorite things about Laura’s class.
Because of kids’ increased energy and shorter attention spans, Laura moves away from the usual all-eyes-on-the-teacher approach and toward one of interaction and playfulness. “We focus more on songs, games, and making things applicable to them,” she adds. Because kids don’t have the same spatial awareness that adults do, Laura thinks of the class as a “moving meditation,” incorporating breath, flexibility, strength—and, of course, fun.
For Laura, teaching yoga to children is deeply rewarding. “Yoga is a journey for everyone,” Laura says, “Even for kids, it can be a potent practice. It helps them to find their creativity and their voice.”Laura isn’t alone in this assessment; the popularity of kids yoga has been steadily on the rise. More and more classes are popping up in schools, daycares, and even yoga studios around the country. Yoga Alliance—the governing body of yoga in the U.S.—now requires 95 hours of training in order to be registered as a kids yoga teacher.
As for the kids, they definitely notice the effects. Sam, who’s ten, says Laura’s yoga class helps calm him down, and not feel like he’s going to “burst into flames” when he’s angry. Nora, a seven-year-old girl with long dark hair and bright blue eyes, says yoga “makes me feel strong.” Lexi, who’s six years old and pink-cheeked, loves balancing poses the most. “Sometimes I wobble a little bit, but I don’t usually fall,” she smiles.
At the end of class, the students sit in a circle with their hands at their hearts, and Laura leads them through a song about friendship and connection, their hands gesturing to each other with each salutation. When the song’s over, they roll up their mats and rejoin their parents, taking their newfound confidence and awareness off the mat and into the world.
“Camel” by Sena, Age 7
“Tree” by Leilani, Age 9
“Downward Dog” by Aidan, Age 12
“Warrior 2” by Austin, Age 6