Getting active kids to pause their perpetual motion may seem nearly impossible at times. Getting them to slow down enough to practice yoga? No way. But at classes across the Upstate, even young children are learning that mindfulness and yoga poses are not only doable, they can be lots of fun, too.

Lisa Marie McDonald teaches yoga for kids ages 6 – 10 at The Flow Depot in Greenville.

“You just don’t have to take anything seriously,” she said of teaching children. “The class starts and stops all the time.”

Participants also dance, color and practice gratitude. It’s all part of introducing yoga.

“It’s not as easy for them to quiet their mind, but I do go through short intervals with them to quiet their mind,” McDonald said. “We share at the end of class something we’re thankful for. There are some elements of mindfulness in the class. Maybe they are just seconds, but we’re planting seeds.”

For parents who are unsure about the whole idea of yoga or whether their child will even want to participate, McDonald invites them to come to the class with their child and sit in the back and watch. But parents often use the time to take in their own class or have a beer at Birds Fly South Ale Project, which is located at Hampton Station along with The Flow Depot.

McDonald said children can learn how to slow down – and that it’s OK to do so – from yoga.

“I’ve had kids really respond to the ability to relax and to pause,” she said. “They seem to understand that this is something they can do for themselves. Even young kids, that’s something that can sink in to them if it’s reinforced – that it’s OK to pause mentally and not just physically.”

In addition to local classes, online videos and other resources can be used to introduce yoga at home. Yoga for Children Yoga Cards, from Lisa Flynn, founder of ChildLight Yoga and Yoga 4 Classrooms, includes cards with more than 50 yoga poses and mindfulness activities. The cards include activities that parents and children can do together to empower children to regulate their attention, focus and more. The cards are available at Amazon and other stores.

Resource to consider

“Mindfulness for Children” by Tracy L. Daniel includes more than 150 activities to introduce kids to practices that can help them calm themselves, reduce stress and increase focus. This age-appropriate book, written by a mental health professional and yogainstructor, isn’t mysterious. In fact, it’s grounded in science. Activities can be used by parents and children together and are designed to include movement, breathing, gratitude, positive thinking and more.

“Mindfulness for Children” was released Sept. 4 and is available at bookstores and online.

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