By Amber Norman
As the Fall program at Little Owl is settling in, the children have been joining me for our first yoga and wellness groups. The Wellness program is in its beginning stages, and already I’m seeing the benefits and excitement from the children over it.
The Wellness program offers yoga, meditation, dance, movement, breathing exercises, games, music, stories, mindfulness practices, art related to these themes, activities that cultivate a connection to self, community, nature and so much more. These elements have always been a part of Little Owl culture, but now there will be much more time and space for children to really focus on and infuse these practices into their lives on a deeper level.
Children (and adults) derive a tremendous amount of benefits from Yoga and other mindfulness practices. Our culture is faster paced than ever, and yoga and meditation allow the time and space to slow down, play, turn inward, and cultivate a meaningful relationship with self, others, and the natural world. Yoga helps to develop concentration, a sense of calm and peace, and relaxation. It leads to self-awareness, increase in strength and flexibility and helps to develop coordination. We engage in these mindful practices in groups and, with consent, children have an opportunity to connect and build relationships with one another. We do this through partner poses, our human mandala which is only possible by tuning into one another, listening to each other’s heart beats, a massage or “love train,” and sharing ideas and thoughts with each other. I have seen some of the deepest connections and friendships developed after yoga groups. Engaging in mindfulness practices in the early years will develop a foundation for a lifelong practice, leading to adults having the tools to manage and navigate stressful situations and an overall sense of wellbeing.