Study after study says that children are not as active as they used to be and many groups and organizations are promoting various ways for children to develop a healthy lifestyle. In Laramie, a young woman is trying to do this with yoga…for kids. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more.
BOB BECK: It would be difficult to find someone more delightful than Winsome Williams. She’s a 22 year old from Big Horn, Wyoming who’s constantly smiling projects positivity. She went to India last year to get certified as a Yoga instructor. When she returned she was approached about the possibility of teaching yoga to children. She started last fall in a Laramie school and now she teaches the children in a local studio.
WINSOME WILLIAMS: Basically just trying to make it fun. I never want it to be too serious, because after all they are just little kids.
BECK: Williams says her approach is to get the kids excited about something that is healthy for them.
WILLIAMS: “So get them excited about breathing, and relaxing, and thinking positive thoughts. You know I think its good for them to be in an environment where they are dedicating an hour or 45 minutes to cultivating a healthy lifestyle.”
BECK: And apparently the kids need it. Isabelle is in 3rd grade.
ISABELLE: -Well I really like to relax and calm down. Do you get uptight, do you get tense? Yeah, I get frustrated sometimes.
BECK: And Amanda is in Kindergarten.
AMANDA: I like doing yoga, because it gives you relaxations kind of. Why do you think you needed to relax? Because our brains and all of our body can settle down.
BECK: This is something Miss Winsome…as the kids call her…hears all the time.
WILLIAMS: I feel really stressed out from school, I had a really tough day, you know somebody was bullying me or something, so they always have these different ideas of what stress is to them and how they carry stress with them throughout the day. So it’s interesting to hear the different ways or reasons why they need to relax.
BECK: While they will stretch and do the things you will do in a normal class, they also spend a lot of time talking about philosophically about relaxation and about life. She asks them open ended questions and is always interested in what they say. (Nat)
WILLIAMS: You know we brainstormed some ideas one time of what we could do to unite with nature. And their idea was to go outside and pick up trash and clean it up and to help, to help nature. So I definitely like to incorporate that aspect as well.
BECK: Adam Henne loves the approach. He’s hoping it will teach his daughter some important long term skills.
ADAM HENNE: Being able to call herself down and relax, although the fitness part is nice also because neither of us, her parents, are athletic at all and so we are not giving her that, so it’s nice if somebody else will.
BECK: Another parent, Frieda Knobloch, says he daughter looks forward to the class each week. She’s also hoping for some long term benefits.
FRIEDA KNOBLOCH: The opportunity to be thoughtful in a deliberate way about her life. You might not think a 2nd or 3rd grader would be capable of taking that kind of pause, but I think they really enjoy it and if she can make herself feel better on a bad day or a busy day, and she has those skills from the time she’s a little kid, I think that’s a wonderful thing.
BECK: In fact, many parents say now their children do yoga at home and ask them to participate with them. They also say they see a positive change in their children, such as taking time to relax after a stressful school day. This pleases Williams who hopes she is making a difference in their lives. For Wyoming Public Radio, I’m Bob Beck.