After a rousing rendition of “Ring Around the Yogi,” with pauses to pose like a dog, kangaroo or frog, a group of six toddlers and their moms took a moment to stretch, focus on breathing and hug their yoga buddy – a small stuffed animal.
Welcome to weekly Tots Yoga designed for parents with children between 14 months and 4 years. Instructor Anne Johnson wanted to share yoga and its benefits with her daughter – two-year-old Amelia. Johnson teaches prenatal yoga and a Mommy & Me class for parents of newborns, but “when they start crawling it makes it a little more challenging,” Johnson said.
She pulled from her experiences with children to make yoga fun, incorporating songs, dance and play while referencing animals to many of the traditional poses.
“I noticed with Amelia that they’re in the stage of mastery,” said Johnson. “If you give them a skill it’s amazing to see the kind of focus they can have in order to accomplish that new ability.”
“For toddlers to be focused on something at that age is pretty cool.”
Johnson is eager to see how the children respond to the new class. “It builds their confidence, helps build body awareness, and they get to use their bodies. And what toddler isn’t all about using their body.”
Most of the parents attending the inaugural class hadn’t attempted yoga with their children before, but were enthusiastic to continue.
“She sees me doing yoga,” said Libby Rodefeld of her two-year-old daughter Lily, “so it’s a fun thing to do together.”
The format is very laid back, allowing kids (and parents) to perform skills at their comfort level. “It’s all about playing, and having fun and being silly,” said Johnson. “It’s very low pressure, everybody is doing a great job.”
The Tots Yoga class meets Tuesdays at 10 a.m. at Simply Yoga, 260 South First St. A schedule of other classes may be found on their Website – SimplyYogaIndy.com.