By Stephanie Choate
“Put your hands high and stand up tall like a mountain,” Karen Allen directed a ring of about 15 toddlers, who were paying various levels of attention. “Did you know you were going to be a mountain today?”
The children—ranging from a newborn baby resting in a carrier to 4-year-olds riveted to Allen’s every move—stretched their arms overhead and braced their feet, like tiny mountains.
Mountains were not the only items impersonated during the Toddler Yoga and Stories event at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library on Friday. The children hopped like frogs, slithered like snakes and stretched like cats.
“For the kids, I like the names of the poses,” said Allen, who has taught the children’s yoga series at the library for several years. “You can be the frog or the downward dog. You can be the creatures and make the connection—‘oh yeah, the dog does do this when they’re wagging their tail.’ It’s fun for kids at a young age to make the connection.”
Along with leading the group in low-key poses, Allen read stories and—by far the most exciting part for the group of kids—blew bubbles around the activity room.
“It’s not a serious yoga,” Allen said. “It’s a way to move around and incorporate some books and just to have fun. It’s a different way of doing a story time where we’re doing a lot of moving around.”
Parents joined their children in the poses, and laughed as the kids maniacally leaped after bubbles.
“I think it’s good to expose them to different activities. This is a good one because it’s calming,” said Christie Assell, who brought her daughter, Lilly, two-and-a-half, and Lilly’s newborn sister, Emma.
Lauren Darby of South Burlington said her daughter, Sophia, one-and-a-half, is at the age where she mimics and her son, Aiden, 4, is just old enough to understand Allen’s direction.
“Anything you can do that’s fun inside in the winter,” Darby said. “It’s fun to do something new. I’ve never tried yoga with the kids.”
“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s relaxing. I can’t believe the time went by so fast,” said Lisa Charlebois, there with her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Teo. “He was really into it, I was surprised.”
The series has become one of the more popular events at the library, said Youth Services Librarian Jill Coffrin.
“We just though it would be fun to combine stories with movement, because the little ones have so much energy anyway,” Coffrin said. “It just seemed like a natural fit.”
Allen, who has three sons, said she understands some of the challenges of parenthood and wants the toddler yoga classes to be a stress-free environment.
Allen said she always tells parents that anything goes during the classes, whether their children want to just sit on their parents’ laps or run around.
“My son was the one who stood on the stage and broke the sign that says ‘stay off the stage,’” she said of the first class she taught. “It’s very nonjudgmental, I think that’s important.”
Toddler Yoga and Stories registration is currently full, but library staff takes a list of names in case of cancellations. For the date of the next toddler yoga event, visit www.williston.lib.vt.us or call the library at 878-4918.