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New York’s fastest growing group of yogis? Kids

yoga for kids in new yorkThere’s a new school of yogis in town, and they’re not wasting any time rolling out their mats.

Yoga classes and studios for kids only—ages 2 through 17—are expanding all over New York City, from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side.

“It’s definitely becoming more mainstream,” says Lauren Chaitoff, co-owner of Yogi Beans, a school-age yoga program. “It’s not as big as ballet, but people are becoming more aware.”

Yogi Beans classes were primarily held at Exhale and Gymboree since its launch in 2007. But Chaitoff is now in the final stages of selecting uptown space to give it a permanent home.

Also taking part in kids yoga classes is the popular after-school activity company Super Soccer Stars. It just branched out to include Yoga Stars, and is hosting classes in churches, schools, and at the 92nd Street Y, in addition to its own studio.

kids yoga
A Yogi Beans practitioner in tree pose

Popular adult yoga studios are newly hosting kids classes. A class for 5- to 11-year-olds popped up on Yoga Vida’s schedule just two weeks ago, and Kula Yoga Project recently expanded their offerings, by partnering with Bija Kids Yoga, a Clinton Hill-based children’s studio.

The adult studios tend to offer a simultaneous (but separate) adult class, so that mom and child can practice at the same time, which seems genius, especially for busy moms who struggle to fit in their own practice, and who’d otherwise have to hire a sitter. (This way, the child has a pretty great activity, too.)

But Shari Vilchez-Blatt, the founder and director of Karma Kids Yoga, which opened in 2003 near Union Square and hosts prenatal, mommy and me, and kids classes, says that she purposely avoids simultaneous scheduling. “Having mom in the next room tends to distract a child, who wants to run and tell her every time he’s held tree pose for more than a second.”

Yogi Beans
Lauren Chaitoff at Yogi Beans

Karma Kids is also expanding into an adjacent studio next door, where they’ll offer more prenatal and teen classes.

All of these studios—plus others, like Little Flower Yoga, a pioneer in teacher training of children’s yoga—also offer in-school classes. And that’s a noticeable change, says Vilchez-Blatt. “Parents have actually asking schools to provide yoga.”

“Parents are becoming more aware of starting healthy habits young,” agrees Chaitoff. And yoga, which is physical but noncompetitive, is a great option for a shy or clumsy kid.

Yoga also helps kids “gather their attention and focus it,” says Chaitoff, which may help them do better in school…and life. —Lisa Elaine Held