Yoga can give children strength, balance and relaxation skills

TYLER (KYTX) - About 20 million Americans over the age of 18 are practicing yoga. Many see it as the secret to relaxation and long, lean muscles.

Some parents  and teachers are now finding yoga is equally as beneficial for kids, who face pressures and stress of their own.  A yoga instructor in Longview has used it in a school setting and seen it work.

 When Kristi McDonald starting teaching yoga. She was a school teacher herself in Colorado.  That meant a lot of snow days, where students had to bring their traditional outside time, indoors.  As an experiment, Kristi started teaching her students yoga. She says the results were so profound she was asked to start and after-school yoga program.

Kristi McDonald is bringing her love of yoga and teaching kids back to East Texas.  Today she's working with 9 year old Brooke Tompkins.  
"I like the relaxation time," says Brooke Tompkins. 
She's been taking yoga with her mom at the Longview Yoga Studio.
"Karen Bonds who owns Longview yoga said she could participate and  so actually she participated in adult classes with me and loved it.
For Brooke, it has shown her that it is ok to quiet her mind and how to quiet her mind and in the world that we live is so fast and furious. I just love the fact that she can use that and relax herself, and it teaches her the importance of exercise, stretching and muscle building," says Wendy Tompkins.

Kristi says Brooke is not the only child who likes to tap into their inner yogi.
"I was an elementary classroom teacher first and I got to see firsthand the effect it was having on the kids. They are very much the same as for grownups. It is very calming, relaxing. I noticed it was decreasing classroom behavior problems, it was increasing their performance in the classroom," says Kristi McDonald.

Kristi works with students on their breathing, core strength and balance. It's a complete mind - body connection.  She specializes in helping children with--
* anxiety
* depression
* Down's Syndrome
* autism
* Sports related needs.

Kristi teaches yoga to children through stories, but using similar poses as adults.  She says you may be surprised how focused they are.
"I have always had really good classes. They take it very seriously. I don't know if they think it is a grown up thing. They come in prepared with their mats and they will say you are not supposed to talk in yoga," says Kristi.

Students like Brooke leave yoga feeling more calm and confident.  Kristi starts and ends every class with the same yoga sequence, so the kids walk away knowing exercises they can do safely at home.

If you think yoga might benefit your child, the Longview Yoga Studio is holding a summer camp for kids. They will learn the importance of strength, attention and focus during each class.



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