Client: Lilly Deringer

Personal Trainer: Lindsay Maurer, founder, Wabi Sabi Wellness

Location: Fruita, Colorado

 

Lilly was like many clients—struggling with anxiety and often feeling overwhelmed. And for her, like for many clients, it seemed that yoga could be effective as a stress reliever. The big difference? Lilly was 4 years old, and her trainer, Lindsay Maurer, needed a special approach to help her young student reap the benefits of the practice.

Small Wonders

“Children feel stress just like adults do but don’t have the tools to process it,” says Maurer, a multicertified trainer and licensed massage therapist. “Our world can be heavy at times, and children need a way to set that weight down and just be kids.”

Her philosophy is right on target, especially as our industry increasingly focuses on the importance of starting good habits early. Yoga also offers some serious science-backed benefits. According to a research review in Frontiers in Psychiatry, yoga practice among children “indicates improved benefits in concentration, stress alleviation, self-awareness, consciousness, self-regulation, behavioral and emotional maturity, and self-confidence in everyday life” (2020; 8, [78]).

One other thing? It’s fun.

“Our kids’ classes are designed to inspire a love of movement and mindfulness at a young age,” Maurer explains. “Through storytelling, play and mindfulness activities, I strive to teach children how incredible they are.”

A Little Patience

For Lilly, yoga was a great fit.

“I was seeking a way to help her relax and stay calm,” says Kari Deringer, Lilly’s mom. “She had struggled with anxiety and panic, which often led to poor behavior. In kids’ yoga, Lilly learned breathing techniques and physical postures that ultimately improved her self-confidence, relaxation and behavior. She had so much fun through stories, song and imaginative play, and she didn’t even realize she was learning valuable skills to help her every day.”

Seems simple, right?

Maurer just laughs! “There are always challenges when working with children,” she says.

“My kids’ yoga classes use a play-based approach. We start with a fun movement song to shake out any ‘sillies,’ followed by a grounding song to focus attention.” Maurer sets up a theme for the class and practices a simple, repetitive yoga flow followed by a mindfulness activity.

A Lot of Reward

Maurer concentrated on keeping Lilly engaged and calm in a class setting while also giving her tools to help her when she felt anxious.

“Now when she is feeling overwhelmed, instead of having an outburst or breakdown, she remembers her breathing and can calm herself to a good state of mind again,” says Kari. “Her confidence, focus, balance and behavior have all improved thanks to the techniques she’s learned from yoga.”

A calm approach has helped Maurer, too.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not that serious,” she says. Her technique is to handle young, distracted yogis with a laugh and a refocusing activity. She remembers, as well, that Wabi Sabi means to “embrace the beauty in imperfection. I truly believe that we are all perfectly imperfect.”

Maybe, but yoga is perfect for Lilly. Maurer adds: “Hopefully she carries these tools with her for a lifetime.”

What’s Your Story?

Do you have a client who has overcome the odds to achieve new heights in health and fitness? Send your story to [email protected], and you and your client may be featured in an upcoming issue of Fitness Journal.