Here Comes the Sun

above: Co-owners Kate Pollock and Carly Walker

“Yoga makes for calmer and happier children, which is a major necessity because anxiety is steadily on the rise in young people,” says Carly Walker, a certified children’s yoga teacher, who taught yoga at the Acorn School and at Lululemon in NYC. Now she is director of the children’s program at the newly open Coastal Sol Yoga (coastalsolyoga.com) in Westport. She opened the studio with co-owner and co-founder Kate Pollock this past summer. “Kate and I both moved from New York City at the exact same time. A mutual friend introduced us a month before moving here,” says Carly. “We started teaching yoga in area preschools three years ago, then a year ago we rented various spaces to offer kids yoga classes together before settling on CSY’s current home.”

The play-based classes are tailored to each age group: toddlers with parents or caregivers; preschoolers; ages five to ten; and middle school. “There are similarities that we weave through the classes, but, otherwise, we do age-appropriate themes, poses and yoga games that the kids love,” says Carly. “It doesn’t look or sound like your typical adult yoga class. We use a million props that keep the kids totally engaged. Things such as stuffed animals that bring us into our poses, fuzzy breath balls that kids blow off their hands to work on inhale/exhale, then we pick the fuzzy balls up with kid chopsticks. The focus is amazing.”

The classes end with quiet moments. “The kids always relax at the end when they focus on a beanie baby ‘taking a ride’ on their bellies—the beginning of meditation,” she says. “They all get foot rubs while they meditate.”

Middle school classes start with talking about how they are feeling and social issues they are dealing with. “I drop in some positive self-talk they can practice on a daily basis,” says Carly. “At this age we hold poses longer and dive a little more into the practice of yoga. A long rest is crucial.”

“Kids need self-regulation and centering tools as they navigate the stress in their world,” agrees co-owner Kate Pollock. “Yoga that is playful and thoughtful provides those tools. Kids have full schedules, and often when they have down time, they are increasingly on screens. Their bodies and minds want to relax, yet because their sympathetic nervous system is on almost all the time, they don’t know how to find their calm. So at the end of all our yoga classes, we guide the class into relaxation. It’s their favorite part.”

Coastal Sol Yoga also helps moms. “Our studio is a place for mamas-to-be and new moms to gather and form a community. Our pre-/postnatal classes are a fluid blend of movement, including yoga, Pilates, strengthening and relaxation,” says Kate. The studio partners with The Parent Collective to host a postpartum support group. Aside from being a co-owner of the yoga studio, Kate Pollock is also director of its Prenatal and Postpartum Program. She has a master’s degree in education and multiple yoga certifications and is also a labor support doula. She started teaching yoga in 2009 with a focus in prenatal and postpartum yoga and mentors prenatal yoga teacher trainees at the Integral Yoga Institute in NYC.

They fit a lot into the 1,000-square-foot studio. “We created a beautiful studio and waiting room where moms and families can relax and gather to discuss family life,” says Carly. “Kate and I are very passionate about the peace aspect that yoga brings into children’s lives. We hope this practice will allow kids to see the good in themselves and one another.”

Teaching children the basics of yoga means making it fun, too

Photography by Kelly A. Siegrist Of Kelly Anne Photography

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