Squirming babies become mini bush planes held by their mothers as they sway gracefully in a huge circle. Other times, little kiddos become lions in a jungle. Open Space Yoga: A Center for Community is a space for everyone. They offer diverse classes like yoga, dance and music, for ALL ages.
"Yoga's not an exclusive sport," Svia Rothstein, the founder and yoga instructor of Open Space. "Currently, the main demographic for practicing yoga is from age 25-45. I think there's something in the realm of yoga even for the infant—from infancy to the elderly. At every stage, when you find the right match, you tap into community and something that's sustainable."
BABY & YOU
For some, yoga can start as early as 6 days old. "Baby and You" is a yoga class designed specifically for mamas and their newborn. They get to learn fun, new ways to bond with their babies through exercise while reclaiming their bodies after having gone through intense birth-giving. At its core, it's really about having that support network with other moms where they can all learn from each other.
"Sometimes we do infant massage, fabulous for bonding with the baby. We move around the room with the baby. We do freeze dances. I teach them how to hold their babies in different ways because your own body gets messed up when you always hold them on one side and crunch your back. I'm trying to bring awareness to how you hold them and how there are different options." – Svia
Angel Wallis with baby Averie Godet, 2.5 months old
"Boy, I tell you, it's no joke—having a baby after 40 and what it does to your body! This is why I'm here to make those changes—for Svia to show me new moves that I can do with my baby and stretch those joints.
And not only that, this is quite a bonding experience. Averie really responds to all the movements. We obviously spend a lot of time together, but you feel something different. It's an intense bonding with her."
Priscila Georgek with baby Vida, 3 months old
"For me, it's the connection. It's having her around and being able to do fun things with her.
Having classes that you can't do with your baby is kind of sad where you have to leave them somewhere.
I always feel very relaxed after it. I can see how she gets mellow after it, too."
Enter the world of imagination, stories and play with kids yoga. This class invites awareness to their bodies by using interactive tools like using feathers, toy animals and music. One exercise has kids picking up pom-pom balls from the floor with their toes and then placing them on their yoga mat where they can create cool pictures out of them. Sometimes they sing songs from a Kundalini perspective or build up strength by pretending to be a tiger. Toward the end of the class, kids wind down with the "Secret Garden," the equivalent to Shavasana or "Starfish Pose." They pretend to be a garden with their favorite beanie baby animal placed on their bodies. Meanwhile, the yoga instructor will award stillness with a butterfly toy. Move too much and the butterfly may fly away.
Without making this a rigorous practice, these are some creative ways yoga helps kids do things in a more conscious way and encourages interaction with each other.
LilyJane Stone, Age 6
"I like the Flower pose because it's really fun and sometimes I don't wiggle—if you tip over, you get to pretend to be a bug, like a beetle or a butterfly. You balance yourself like this very good. My feet are up and my arms would be under my legs. And for my fingers, I do a 'peace begins with me.'"
Harlen Mcdonald, Age 7
"My favorite pose is the Warrior pose because you pretend you have a big, ginormous energy ball! You move it around like a ball. The arms go up in the middle."
Lacey Mcdonald-Johnson, Age 6
"I like yoga! It's very fun. I like 'Jogging in the Jungle.' We run around and we get to pick what we get to do. When we stop running, we have to be an animal."
Both "Baby & You" and "Kids Yoga are ongoing, donation-based classes.
"Kids Camp with Yoga & Music" will be offered July to August 2017.
Contact Open Space for more details or to register:
OpenspaceAlaska@gmail.com • openspacealaska.com • 243-OPEN (6736)
This article was originally published in The Youth Issue of 61°North Magazine. Contact the editor, Jamie Gonzales, at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.