LITTLE ROCK, Ar. -- This month's focus is heart health. One central Arkansas Montessori school is integrating yoga into their students' day to make them stress-free and heart healthy. When we think of yoga, we picture adults, but soon we may see more kids embracing the mat.
"You really have an advantage if you learn this at a young age," says yoga instructor Joy Declerk.
"Yoga for Youngsters" is a program being implemented by the Village Montessori School in Little Rock.
"It's very focusing and calming for the kids as well, so if they're having a chaotic day, yoga can kind of bring them back to their center," says Declerk.
Which so far has come naturally for this group of 18 month to 6-year-olds. "A lot of people think that it takes all this focus, and that children just don't have that - but they do," said Declerk.
Finding a focus during yoga is the foundation - which could develop healthy habits for a lifetime. Owner of Village Montessori School and mother, Jennifer Matthews Kidd says, "They have so far exceeded our expectations in that they are focused, they do the poses and they are fully engaged in the process."
Yoga helps diffuse emotions like anger, impatience, and stress, which are all linked to heart attacks. "By just getting some of that exercise, that adrenaline, that cardio vascular work...that helps your heart. Reduction in stress - helps your heart. Being able to love your body helps your heart," says Declerk.
But there's more than just a medical benefit to this youthful yoga. The classes are centered on storytelling and poses that mimic animals.
Although yoga is about finding personal, inner peace - these students still find a way to make it a team effort.
"We make sure they high-five everybody after they're done, and that gives more cohesiveness to the group," says Declerk. "They're just the joy to my week."
This yoga program has been going on for 4 months now -- at Village Montessori. They hope to eventually expand this program into older age groups within the school.
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