Anton Community Newspapers  •  132 East 2nd Street  •  Mineola, NY 11501  •  Phone: 516-747-8282  •  FAX: 516-742-5867
Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

Yoga Youngsters

Yoga, a mental and spiritual exercise hailing from ancient India, emphasizes physical well-being in addition to the reduction of tension and the enhancement of relaxation and inward peace; while grown-ups have enjoyed its benefits for centuries, only recently has a movement grown to introduce the art to children, who could certainly use some tranquility among the unique stresses that make up their lives as well.

Massapequa resident Laura Lipari first discovered Yoga when she was attending college; after embracing the art and making it a part of her life, she then decided to gain her teaching certificate and has been instructing others in the bendy and twisty ways of yoga for the past two years.

“I used to be a very hyper-active child...in high school I used to run track and cross-country. But then I got injured and I wanted to try and find other things,” she said. “Yoga was a complete 180 for me, because I went from high-intensity running to this, and there was a period of transition where I came to realize that yoga was just as effective an exercise, but with other benefits as well.”

Lipari, who has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is training at Stony Brook University to be a registered dietitian, started out teaching adults at Studio Moonflower in Bellmore but she soon found herself transitioning over a younger age set; she currently holds an hour-long class every other week at the Massapequa Public Library’s Bar Harbour branch for kids ages seven to 12, and maintains that when it comes to introducing people to the benefits of yoga, earlier is always better.

“Growing up, I didn’t have yoga in school...now the kids tell me that almost all gym classes have some form of yoga, even the high schools,” she said. “I think it’s great, because the kids can get stressed from school or family — even though it might seem minor in comparison to adult stress — but they need ways to calm down and an outlet for that energy. For example, my boyfriend’s eight-year-old brother was having nightmares lately, and he taught him yoga and meditation that that helped him; and those are aspects I try to incorporate into the class as well...the mindfulness, exercise and relaxation aspects.”

Teaching yoga to kids, naturally, has a different set of challenges then when teaching adults; however, Lipari said that she has developed a method introducing the art to the younger set in a way that they find fun and engaging.

“When I taught adults, I used to come up with a sequence of postures, one post to the next, but kids get bored with that...they need something more interactive, especially since the class is a full hour, so I use things that draw them in,” she said. “For example, today we used the alphabet...the kids each came up with a pose that starts with each letter of the alphabet, some of them real, some made-up. And I always have some kind of activity to start out, like drawing or music, and I like to tie a theme into it.”

Ten-year-old Caroline of Massapequa was a first-timer at Lipari’s class, although she said she’s taken yoga in school previously; she said the benefits of yoga help her to deal with the rigors of school.

“She’s a great teacher and it’s a really good class,” she said. “I liked it because it helped me to relax and put all the stress aside, because I’m doing this competition in school called Odyssey of the Mind and it’s very stressful.”

Alana, also 10 years old, has dipped her toes in the pool of yoga before; however, she said that Lipari’s class was a great deal more fun than any she’s experienced before.

“It’s a really good class,” she said. “She does all these different poses that other teachers sometimes think are too challenging, but she shows us how to ease into the poses and we can do them. I can’t wait to come to her class again.”

And finally there’s Makayla, a 10-year-old and complete “newbie” to the ways of yoga, who saw the advertisement for Lipari’s class and thought it sounded like something that would be right up her alley.

“It just sounded fun, and I was curious about yoga,” she said. “It was really fun and relaxing, too. Laura’s a great teacher...she does a lot of poses and she explains how to do them really well.”

If you’re a kid who’s interested in attending Laura Lipari’s Yoga classes, check out the events calendar at www.massapequalibrary.org.