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Calm and chaos with active kids yoga

Above, Alex Shields, Declan Gardner, Nikki Nelson, Jordan Nelson and Michelle Johnson, share some smiles during the parachute play portion of the active "Kids Yoga" class.

Yoga is often associated with quiet, focus and serenity. Not words often associated with 3- to 5-year-olds. The Hammond Library's story-time group is trying incorporate calming yoga movements in its new program "Active Kids with Yoga for Kids."

The group meets every Thursday, Jan. 13 through Feb. 24, at 10:30 a.m., at the Trinity Lutheran Church, at 1250 Broadway St., in Hammond.

The program focuses on getting young children to use large muscle movements by parachute play, an obstacle course, bean bag throws and other activities, mixed with yoga to calm them down, make them stretch and make them strong.

The library runs the program, hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, to promote a healthy lifestyle while also teaching children more about the alphabet, colors and numbers, said Library Director Michelle Johnson.

Johnson said the kids seem to enjoy the active and educational classes.

"They love moving and getting silly and it is a great way to do so in the cold months of winter when it is harder to get outside to work off some of that excess energy they tend to build up," she said.  

"It is equally important for children to build the skills to be calm," she said.

That is why the library teamed with yoga instructor Tonya Schmitt-Mishke.   

Johnson said the program provides a good balance of chaotic and calm fun.

"Kids have a natural tendency to want to run and play so we start by getting their wiggles out which will hopefully lead to an easier time getting them to focus on the calm and stretching activities," she said.

While Johnson believes yoga is good for people of all ages, she said, "Yoga for children is beneficial because it teaches them to be flexible and use there bodies in ways that are calming and centering for them."

The cost of the program is a free will donation and Johnson said anyone can join by coming to the education hall at the Trinity Lutheran Church any Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

The number of 3- to 5-year-olds in the class ranges from 12-16, depending on the week, Johnson said.

In the age of technology, Johnson said it's important to have active classes for young kids.

"We want them to use their bodies and minds, not to let the technology take over and make us sedentary individuals," Johnson said. "If we are active young, we become active adults."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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