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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Kids and Family Yoga in DC: Nutrition for Body and Mind

Sep 04, 2014 01:28AM
by Grace Ogden

Do you have children in your life? Doing yoga with them can be restorative and fun and, if you take a class, a way to make friends with other parents and kids. Add in the essential brain nutrition that yoga gives children and you can forever let go of any guilt about ditching housework for a family yoga session.

The top two scientifically proven benefits that yoga accrues to children are mood regulation and bonding with parents. Mood regulation increases children’s resilience to stress, making yoga a vital practice to blunt the increasing stress they experience from the demands of globalization, the constant stimulation of media technologies, and the decline in physical activity. Yoga helps children listen inwardly to themselves, attuning their minds and bodies, and restoring calm and well-being.

Researchers are just beginning to study how specific yoga poses affect pediatric mental health. However, yoga’s physical benefits are so well established that it is a respected component of children’s medicine at such prominent hospitals as Mass General, ranked #2 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

"Brain scans show the amygdala vibrations of parent and child synchronize when they do yoga together," says Soonjo Hwang, M.D., a research fellow in affective cognitive neuroscience at the National Institutes of Health. Bonding with parents is the critical nurturing process that completes the neural wiring in the infant’s limbic system, which in turn becomes the structural foundation of all her or her future emotional learning.

Several yoga studios and groups in DC have a central commitment to making the benefits of yoga available to children and families. Many residents view them as community hubs of health and support for ethical and compassionate living. Read on to discover how one of these centers might meet your family’s needs.

Circle Yoga, headed by Annie Mahon, is located just off Connecticut Avenue, NW, in the Chevy Chase neighborhood of D.C. Among the studio’s many family and adult offerings is a fully established children’s yoga program, Budding Yogis, co-founded and directed by Linda Feldman. Feldman will offer the 20-hour Budding Yogis teacher training October 24 to 26 for parents, schoolteachers, therapists and others interested in teaching yoga and mindfulness to kids.         Mindfulness meditation is also an important practice at Circle Yoga, and Mahon guides the small group program, “Year of Mindfulness for Women,” which is enrolling now for the fall 2014 and summer 2015 sessions. More information can be found at

Lil Omm yoga studio is led by Pleasance Silicki, who started by teaching baby and new mom yoga classes in response to a personal longing for deeper connection that arose during her first pregnancy. Her vision of a yoga community that supports the practical needs and spiritual interests of new parents and young children caught on and Lil Omm now serves hundreds of families at its studio in Tenleytown. Their creative array of classes and special events range from breast-feeding to circus-inspired family yoga to the Downward Doll Yoga and Tea Party, which will be held October 18. Child care is offered on-site during adult classes. Find out more at

Willow Street Yoga just marked its 20th anniversary and studio directors Natalie and Joe Miller are the second-generation leadership team of this thriving learning community. With neighborhood studios in historic Takoma Park and downtown Silver Spring, WSY offers classes to meet the needs of every kind of body. Kid’s yoga covers infancy all the way through the teen years, and parents’ classes are often offered simultaneously. A respected center of teacher training that also offers a yearlong Living Yoga immersion course, Willow Street sponsors events about the philosophy of yoga and the stories behind the poses. Find out about their free, upcoming yoga classes at Fenton Market and get other fall schedule details at

Other child and family yoga programs targeted to city dwellers are offered by Sariane Leigh ( and the Alexandria-based nonprofit organization YoKid that works to make yoga available to underserved kids and teens (

Grace Ogden is the founder of Grace Productions, which offers transformational consulting and Living Sacred events. See ad, page XX.

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