I started practicing yoga a few months before I got pregnant, I continued through my pregnancy with prenatal yoga, and I even took my twins to mommy and me yoga — all at Coolidge Corner Yoga. I have found so many benefits of yoga in each of these stages of my life. So when my toddlers and I had the opportunity to try out Coolidge Corner Yoga’s toddler yoga class, I jumped at the chance. Yoga is a wonderful way for toddlers to increase body awareness and build self-confidence. And I had been very curious what a toddler yoga class would be like with my two busy little people.
When we arrived at Coolidge Corner Yoga, we were warmly welcomed by the staff and the teacher, Joanne. Joanne has been teaching toddler yoga for 10 years and is also a social worker and psychotherapist. It was immediately clear to me that she gets kids. She respects them, understands them, and provides a safe space for them to learn and grow in her yoga classes. When class started, she reminded all the caregivers that toddlers are explorers; they may stay on task, they may wander around, they may look like they aren’t paying attention. But they are listening and taking it all in. This reassured me as the mama to one of those wandering toddlers (and at some points, two wandering toddlers), that this was a safe place for kids to be who they are and learn how they learn best.
Each toddler yoga class opened with an upbeat song that welcomed each individual toddler yogi and helped to create a sense of community. The song was so catchy and fun that my daughter requests it multiple times a day by saying, “Om! Om!” and clapping her hands. The rest of the class was made up of storytelling, games, music, and practicing poses that were most often relatable animal poses: Hang like a bat, fly like a butterfly, walk like a penguin. We also did a few parent-child partner poses, which was a fun way to connect with each other. Joanne was so encouraging to the individual children as they did their poses. And she showed parents how to help their children move their bodies in ways that naturally get them into poses, such as downward-facing dog.
My favorite activity was when Joanne used a Hoberman sphere as a visual and tactile way to show breathing in and out. Breathing can be a helpful tool for kids when they are learning to calm themselves, but it can be hard to teach them how to do it. Each child had a chance to try expanding and collapsing the sphere and practicing breathing in and out. While my 18-month-olds didn’t quite get it, I watched as slightly older kids made the connection — it was really amazing!
All three of us had a wonderful experience at toddler yoga, and I would not hesitate to return for a session or drop in on a class every once in awhile. Coolidge Corner Yoga and its sister studio, Sadhana Yoga in the South End, both offer toddler yoga classes. If you don’t have a toddler, both studios also offer a wide range of classes for all ages, from infants through teenagers, and a family yoga program for parents and kids to practice together.