If you’ve ever seen a middle-aged adult creaking their way toward a splay-legged “Happy Baby” pose, you know that one of yoga’s many goals is the reclamation of childlike flexibility. But there are plenty of benefits for your already-bendy offspring–and no, not just the hour that you get to yourself while they’re downward-dogging. These studios offer playful beginner classes that promise to boost kids’ confidence, hone their concentration skills, and lengthen and strengthen growing muscles.
Karma Kids Yoga
This bright, colorful studio–designed to look like a New York (read: concrete) garden with blue walls, green floors, and flower bed murals–introduces little ones to gentle yoga through Mom & Baby (6 weeks-walking) or Parent & Child (strong walkers-3 years) classes, but after age 2 they can opt to practice their positions unchaperoned–which you may want to encourage, since the songs, puppetry, and even glow-in-the-dark lighting that Karma Kids incorporates into its instruction won’t be half as relaxing for you as a peacefully-sipped latte. Drop-in rates start at $10.
Bend and flex above the hubub of 72nd and Lex! From YogiBeans’ spacious studios your kids can watch the city through floor-to-ceiling windows when they’re not busy building strength and practicing breathing techniques in one of a dozen specialty classes (drop-ins for “beans” are $35; for adults and teens one class is $20). There’s something for every type of kid here: Family Meditation might help your rambunctious tot focus, while Sing-Along Yoga will bring a shy bean out of his or her pod.
1018 Lexington Avenue, 2nd Floor
Bend and Bloom Yoga
Since it primarily caters to adults, this airy Park Slope studio is refreshingly devoid of primary colors and distracting toys. Its kids yoga program, however, is solid, with solo classes for ages 3 and up and family/postnatal options for young babies and toddlers (drop-ins are $18 for kids-only classes and $24 with a caregiver). Instructors teach children to mimic animals and shapes in order to achieve literal and figurative balance–just don’t let them near the cookie jar at Bend and Bloom’s entrance, which is often stocked with tantalizing ginger snaps.
708 Sackett Street (Brooklyn)
Clinton Hill’s Bija isn’t just a yoga studio; last fall the popular tot spot opened its own yogacentric preschool, and offers pickup from local elementary schools as well as a full-service summer camp with daily yoga practice, arts and crafts, field trips to local attractions like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Audubon Center, and hot lunches catered by Red Rabbit.
900 Fulton Street (Brooklyn)
Ever try a clownward-facing dog? On sunny summer Sundays from 3:00pm-6:00pm, adventurous yogis young and old gather in Central Park to juggle, “fly,” and perform asana acrobatics with this informal, fun-loving troupe. Admission is free, but you should bring your own blankets or mats, as well as snacks and water. Since it’s a crowded public area, parental guidance is a must, so why not make it a family circus?
Sheep Meadow, Central Park
Where do you and your kids practice your downward dog? Let us know in the comment section below.
— Una LaMarche
thanks to each studio for sharing their wonderful photos!