The students balanced themselves in the tree pose, like a line of somewhat shaky flamingos. But the smiles on their faces said it all: they were having a great time. “Yoga is for everybody and for every body,” said instructor Kristen Matthews. “I really love working with the kids. They’re just so fun!”
Students practice the tree pose.
While there are many yoga classes in the region, few of them focus exclusively on children. Matthews learned yoga as a child herself, teaching herself yoga poses from a magazine article. Now she is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and a Registered Children’s Yoga Teacher, with 595 hours of training.
To study yoga and children’s yoga, Matthews made three trips to India and a trip to Mexico, staying a month at a time. There, she felt the impact of yoga’s thousands of years of tradition and practice. Matthews even had the opportunity to have a private teaching with the Dalai Lama at his temple in Dharamshala.
Matthews explained that the teachings of yoga go beyond the poses, or asanas. “Yoga is not a religion. It’s not a sport. The more flexible and capable I am with my body, I can achieve that much more. I learn how to be peaceful and emotionally stable.”
Matthews at the Swag Ashram in Rishikesh, India.
With three children of her own, she is proud to share the benefits of yoga with kids of all ages. “I think it’s so important for children to have the tools that yoga gives you,” she said. “Like ‘I’m having a stressful day, I can meditate it out.’ That’s what we need more of, we need more children who have these skills.” And judging by the smiles on the faces of her students, there are more children having fun too.
To sign up for Matthews’ children’s or adult yoga classes, register online at https://ridge.revtrak.net, click on Community Education and select Youth Sports. Classes are listed under Youthful Yoga.