Students at Oklahoma Elementary School in DuBois have been participating this year in “Kids Yoga,” an after-school enrichment program, and loving it, according to Dr. Christina Pisani-Conway, a parent and certified Kids Yoga instructor.
“I decided to teach yoga to help children grow,” said Conway, who is trained in and teaches the “Kidding Around Yoga” style of kids yoga. It’s the kind of yoga, which helps kids build strength and self-esteem while teaching them to manage stress and learn compassion, she said.
Conway said the Dalai Lama is believed to have said, “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
“This resonated with me as our children today need, more than ever, to be comfortable in their bodies, to know they are loved and to learn how to cope with everyday stresses,” said Conway. “We do a mixture of yoga, mindfulness and meditation to help them grow in kindness, confidence and health.”
Conway said she is currently working on her 200-hour yoga teacher training through Satya Yoga Teacher Training and pursuing her dharma, “or my true path in life.”
She said she plans to seek further training to be able to offer the gift of prenatal and pelvic floor yoga, which are two areas close to her heart as a women’s healthcare provider.
“I would like to continue blending newer western medicine with more established approaches like yoga and Ayurveda to support our community in their wellness goals,” said Conway.
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, Conway has been teaching four, five- to six-week sessions through the after-school enrichment program and also conducted a summer program at SoL Wellness and Gathering Space in DuBois.
Conway, who has a daughter as a participant, said the children have been loving the new experience.
“They are so enthusiastic and learn so quickly,” she said. “When we meditate we repeat a mantra, ‘Peace begins with me,’ and after moving and stretching their bodies and learning how to mindfully interact with others, they float peacefully out the door.”
In this last session currently underway, Conway said there are approximately 30 students participating, including both boys and girls.
“I anticipated that it would be different groups of kids but then no kids really wanted to drop out of it,” she said.
Conway said one of her student’s parents communicated that when her daughter got frustrated with a task, she said, “’Mom, I only have yoga one day a week!’”
“They have a space where they are free to laugh, move, and accept and support each other,” said Conway. “They have the opportunity to be silly, physically active, and learn to be mindful of their feelings and actions to be able to thrive.”
Conway said she hopes to offer the Kids Yoga program again next school year.