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Yoga for the Whole Family

When yoga is taught at their level, kids readily enjoy the physical and mental release this practice offers. Most instructors who teach yoga to children report that kids are eager to use their imagination to stand like trees, stretch like dogs or be frogs. And today, when many children—like adults—suffer from stress, yoga can teach them how to relax. In addition to the classes at schools and fitness facilities, popular yoga camps for kids are offered at some retreat centers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics, 16% of U.S. children 6–18 years old are overweight. Overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile on the CDC’s 2000 BMI-for-age growth charts. Yoga can be an enjoyable activity that can help children increase their physical activity levels and achieve a healthy weight.

. . . And Dogs Just Lap It Up!

Yoga seems to benefit even man’s best friend. According to a report from BBC News Online, yoga for canines is the latest American import to have taken off in London. The canine yoga classes are for both human and dog participants, who bend and stretch their bodies through various postures led by an instructor.

“[They haven’t] done anything like this before,” Claire Margarson told BBC News Online, referring to her experience in the class with her three shi tsus, Tia, Tango and Tequila. “But Tia in particular loved it, spending 6 hours in class. She had her legs stretched in the air, was bent over into extraordinary positions—at one point she even resembled a wheelbarrow—and had her paws massaged. The dogs did most of the things that the humans did.

“At the end we were even encouraged to get them to hold their paws together so that we could recite a specially adapted concluding prayer.” Margarson added that her other two dogs also showed benefits. “Tango, normally a bit grumpy, was a lot more pleasant to live with, while Tequila temporarily lost her obsession with smelling out the nearest lamppost. All of them slept very well that evening and were far less energetic than normal.”

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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