RIDGWAY — Ridgway woman Natalie Aiello is helping youth of all ages find peace and strength during a time when they may need it most.

Aiello said there are many benefits in practicing yoga and mindfulness for all ages.

“Practicing the physical poses in yoga can help to relieve stress and pain, and improve breathing, flexibility, circulation, and strength,” she said. “Practicing mindfulness allows us to focus on the present, which opens the ways to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time, memory and stress relief. When taught in a fun and creative way, students can gain all of these benefits and have a very safe and positive experience.”

Aiello became a certified yoga instructor after starting training in February 2020, graduating from training in January 2021. She has more than 20 years of formal and informal teaching experience, and skills to work with youth of all ages, as well as adults.

“I have always been an educator, and I have always worked with kids,” Aiello said. “When I realized kids yoga wasn’t a popular thing in our area, but the benefits were so great, I started working toward making it available for kids.”

In October, Aiello decided to add a 95-hour kids yoga training, she said, and began offering it at the Ridgway YMCA.

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Yoga programs include yoga for babies, toddlers, elementary school youth and middle and high school youth. Poses are age-appropriate for each group, Aiello says, and chosen with child development in mind.

Classes are held both at the Ridgway YMCA and Peaces of Me Studio, as well as Temple Studio and Serenity Studio of St. Marys.

Aiello has plans to expand the yoga and mindfulness lessons and strategies within the New Year.

During a time when children are lacking social interaction and sometimes movement, says Aiello, mindfulness and yoga can help them focus on self care, strength, flexibility and compassion, she said.

“Kids yoga is very popular in cities, and has even been incorporated into the school day,” she notes. “Educators, administrators and parents are finding value in the benefits of practicing mindfulness and yoga.”

For more information, visit the Mindfulness and Yoga For Kids Facebook page.

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