Shelley Moynihan “can’t say enough” about the benefits of yoga for children.
Physically, it can enhance their flexibility, strength, co-ordination and body awareness, and mentally, the Oamaru yoga instructor says their confidence, concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves.
“For everything that an adult gets out of yoga, a child does too,” Mrs Moynihan said.
As well as adult classes, Mrs Moynihan takes two children’s yoga classes a week at Oamaru’s Bliss Yoga Studio – for 5 to 7-year-olds and 8 to 12-year-olds.
The classes cover yoga, mindfulness, gratitude and journalling – all in a fun, interactive and non-competitive environment, which allowed children to feel safe and secure to express themselves freely without any judgement, she said.
“I love teaching adults, but I have a real passion for the kids’ yoga as well.
“I see so many stressed kids and if I can give them an hour of calm, an hour of fun and play and activity and meaningfulness .. it’s worth it.”
The classes start with a breathing exercise and finish with a shavasana.
“Our shavasana can be a poem, it can be a guided imagery, meditation, it can be just a tense and release to relax – similar to adult’s yoga, but in a child-like form,” she said.
This week, Mrs Moynihan took butterfly-themed classes, working with the Oamaru Friends of the Monarch Butterfly group to educate children about the plight of the monarch butterfly and its life cycle.
The children learned yoga poses for each stage in the butterfly life cycle and, at the end of the class, planted swan plant seeds and were each given a swan plant to take home from Waitaki Community Gardens head gardener Gordon Martin.
“Yoga is a fun way to teach the butterfly life cycle to kids,” Mrs Moynihan said.
Like a metaphor for change in the cycles of our lives, the butterfly’s metamorphosis carried an important message for children, she said.
“The kids are all unique; they bloom as well and go through different stages of growth in life.
“It all ties in – it’s a really nice mindfulness practice, too.”
Mrs Moynihan started teaching yoga in July, but has been practising herself for more than 20 years.
As well as weekly classes during the school term, she also takes holiday programmes for children.