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by K.M.


These days, yoga is much more than just focused breathing and awkward poses. It is relaxing, centering, calming and just plain good for your overall health and joint flexibility. That goes for children, too, especially at Karma Kids Yoga Studio, which recently opened on West 14th Street. “This is a yoga studio that is just for kids,” says co-director Shari Vilchez-Blatt, who with her partner, Jeannene Levinson, now teaches 19 classes. “It was designed specifically with children in mind.” With its brick walls painted in vibrant shades of orange, purple and turquoise, the 500-square-foot studio space is “like an urban garden”, complete with soft and “squisshy” grass-green floors and painted flower murals. “It’s like a ray of sunshine,” Vilchez-Blatt says of the fun, creative, and safe environment. At Karma Kids, children learn yoga through active playing — by imitating nature and animals through creative expression of their bodies. Some of the yoga exercises include interactive aspects such as music, games, puppets, and storytelling; children also learn about basic anatomy, nature, and animals through yoga. The exercises and activities promote strength and body awareness in children, while teaching them relaxation and self-control through breathing and visualization techniques. A smattering of sessions — from Mom and Baby classes (for infants age 2 months to crawling) to Parent-Child classes (for toddlers to age 3) — give children a positive way to release energy, calm themselves and learn about their bodies. Unique poses like the Butterfly, Cat and Cow, and Tree allow young children to “take away with them a learning about themselves and a respect of others.” Karma Kids also offers special classes and programs, including yoga birthday parties. There are also pre-natal classes, family classes, sibling classes and a variety of classes for younger children. Karma Kids Yoga Studio is located at 104 West 14th Street, 2nd floor. For more information, call (646) 638-1444, visit www.karmakidsyoga.com, or email downdog@karmakidsyoga.com. — Sara Rivka Davidson and Kirsten Matthew

——————— City Kids Find ‘The Force’

Of late, a kids’ yoga fever of sorts has taken the city by storm. A year ago, Universal Force Yoga offered only one Yoga for Kids class per week. Now that number has increased nine times. “Yoga at an early age creates the basis of a healthy discipline for life,” says Primavera Salva, a mother and certified children’s yoga instructor. “It encourages children to foster their self-esteem and self-confidence and learn to trust their intuition.” At Universal Force Yoga, part of the non-profit Universal Force Healing Center, children explore the wonders of the universe through their imagination, learning yoga by laughing, dancing, jumping and practicing traditional yoga poses. There are even yoga classes for Moms, Dads and Nannies that run simultaneously with children’s classes, giving stressed parents and caregivers their own hour of yoga bliss. In addition to Yoga for Kids, Yoga for Toddlers, Preschoolers and 4-7 year olds, Universal Force Yoga also offers Pre-natal Yoga and Baby and Me Yoga programs, led by renowned founder of Yoga for Two, Mary Barnes. In all, more than 50 classes a week are offered in 17 yoga styles. Coming this summer, there will even be a Yoga for Kids Summer Day Camp. Spring term, for kids ages 4-7, runs April 1-June 6, Tuesday-Friday, 4-4:55pm; Preschoolers and Toddlers on Mondays and Wednesdays, 10-10:45am and 11-11:45am. Universal Force Healing Center is located at 7 West 24th Street. For more information, call (917) 606-1703.


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