What do LeBron James, Hope Solo, Lesean McCoy and kids yoga all have in common?

Question: What do you get when you put one kids yoga instructor in front of almost 200 kids, ages 5-12, at three different summer camps? 

Answer: About 50% will be excited and they'll start demonstrating yoga poses they've seen their parents do or have done at school. Another 25% will immediately sit down, close their eyes and start saying "OMMMMM". (This one is hilarious to me!) And the rest? Blank stares. Rolling eyes. Totally bored looks. Then a little of, "YOGA? I am not going to sit still on a mat...no way!" This one is my favorite, because they have no idea what is coming.

This is a true story from Monday. I was invited to teach kids yoga sessions at the Perinton Summer Camps here in Fairport, NY. Three locations and almost 200 kids in total. That's a lot of kids and a LOT of different opinions about kids yoga.

First, cue the music. I turn some heads when Katy Perry's "Chained to the Rhythm" starts. "My favorite song! This isn't yoga music..." I hear one camper say

After a brief introduction, I ask for a show of hands. "Who thinks we are going to be sitting still on our mats for the whole time? Maybe with our eyes closed and being very quiet?" More than half of the hands go up. 

Then I get out my yoga breathing ball. This little Hoberman sphere is seriously magical in its ability to capture an entire group's attention. And I mean everyone. Girls. Boys. Younger. Tweenagers. Together (to the music of Coldplay) we all learn about the power of yoga breathing -- and the entire group participates. 

Then it's time to MOVE. "Yoga active", I call it. The hesitation from my doubters resurfaces when I ask them to stand and tell them it's time to get going. I lead the group through a super active series that tested their strength, balance, stamina (almost all were out of breath and sweating) and flexibility. To the music of Imagine Dragons. I survey the scene and gone are the eye rolls. Instead, I see kids working HARD, with focus, and with a lot of strength that I bet they didn't expect to use in their yoga session. 

Oh, and kids love these fun facts too. I saw some wide-eyes after I shared a few of these cool facts.

  • Did you know that professional athletes are now practicing yoga to become stronger?
  • "Yoga workouts are the hardest." - Lesean McCoy (running back, Buffalo Bills)
  • LeBron James. Ray Lewis. Victor Cruz. Lesean McCoy. All practice yoga to be stronger and better in their sport.
  • Hope Solo (soccer). Lindsey Vonn (skier). Maria Sharapova (tennis). Elena Delle Donna (basketball). All claim yoga is their secret to maintaining strength, flexibility and reducing injury.

When it finally WAS time to lay back on their mats, to relax and find a moment of calm. I kid you not when I say that the entire camp gratefully laid back, closed their eyes, and found their own moment of peace. It was pretty darn cool to see 12 year old boys, having been challenged being "yoga active", truly relaxing. And maybe even liking yoga!

There is something to be said about not just telling, but showing how yoga can be hard + fun + challenging + calming + really good exercise. All rolled into one. So cool. 

I loved being a part of the community this week and I really enjoyed meeting so many new kiddos. Thank you to Perinton Parks and Recreation for the opportunity and I hope that the kids had as much fun as I did!

Have a great night, everyone! OMMMMM. :)
~ Ali

PS. Don't forget to check out all upcoming studio classes (weekday and weekend), Adult & Kids Yoga, Friday Night Kids Yoga Club, and Back to School Yoga Camp. Grab a mat, grab a friend, and see you in class soon!