A new studio in Spring Branch is bringing yoga to kids and making “mindfulness” fun and engaging.
Julie McConn, who has taught yoga to youngsters for more than seven years, opened Zen Kidz, at 8330 Long Point Rd. Unit E, in October. After working as an educator in schools abroad and in the United States, she combined her two passions, working with kids and yoga, to create a curriculum centered on positive self-development for toddlers and children up to 12 years old.
She spent years teaching yoga to children in after-school programs throughout the city. The experience provided a natural transition for her to look for a place of her own to offer classes, camps and private events.
McConn recognized the appeal and growth in the neighborhood she had called home for four years: Spring Branch.
“It was kind of scary setting up in an area where no one really knew me or of me. Most of the schools I taught were in like, Meyerland, but this area is unique, and it is a fun time to be here,” she explained.
“Yoga for adults, in most cases, is about ‘here is your workout and how to get stronger.’ But for kids, there is a lot I do to help work on their bodies and have them work on their flexibility and become stronger, but you have to make it fun,” she said. “A large part of our sessions is learning about your feelings. I have a big focus on mindfulness, and it grows as you get older.”
The studio is a peaceful place with soothing purple, pink and teal walls. The classes incorporate movement, yoga poses and crafts. Some include time on the yoga trapeze.
The 45- to 55-minute classes consist of dance, movement, breathing exercises, yoga poses and using games and props for full immersion into yoga.
The curriculum also incorporates yoga books and meditation.
Meditation? For toddlers? After completing training in Rainbow Yoga and Cosmic Kids, Julie is mastering the creation of an engaging curriculum on the principles of yoga in a fun way for toddlers. Parents and their children work side-by-side in those classes, which include breathing and meditation exercises, dance movement, free play, reading and crafts.
The crafting is such a vital part of each session.
“Doing art is always so calming. If you enjoy painting, if you enjoy coloring, anything that you are kind of doing things alone and your mind is clear, is a great way to disconnect,” said McConn. “We use crafting intentionally as a meditation.
Also, “we teach about gratitude and use a ‘kindness jar,’ emphasizing not only kindness to others but how to be kind to yourself.”
Zen Kidz offers camp opportunities for students on scheduled school holidays and during the summer.
The studio is available for birthday parties and other special events. Guests will enjoy songs, poses, and take-home gift crafting.
The concept is working, according to 5-year-old Cece.
“We learn how to take breaths to help us calm down,” she remarked. “My favorite parts are the fun yoga songs and the crafts we make!”
Ten-week sessions cost between $250 and $300 per child.
Go online to www.zenkidztx.com and check the @zenkidztx account on Instagram for more information.
— by Jessika Leal