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This Angus woman is putting on yoga for young’uns…and it’s going down a storm

Gayle joins in a children's yoga class run by Linda Mackie ikn Wellbank Village Hall in Angus.
Gayle joins in a children's yoga class run by Linda Mackie ikn Wellbank Village Hall in Angus.

Yoga isn’t just for adults, as Gayle discovers when she joins a fun class in Angus for children

Arms dangling, back stooped, I lurch round in circles pretending to be an elephant.

A group of enthusiastic children follow behind me, some making trumpeting noises and others, simply smiling and laughing. Heck, this is great fun!

We’re taking part in one of Linda Mackie’s yoga sessions for kids aged three to six years old (I’m a bit of an anomaly!) and today’s theme is the jungle.

Having been to various yoga classes over the years, the only themes I’ve encountered are those of relaxing, stretching and breathing, so it’s refreshing to have something fresh to focus on, whether monkeys, elephants or snakes.

Linda believes in sparking imaginations and she’s an absolute master at telling stories.

Her classes combine fun shapes, gentle twists, yoga stories, games and relaxation time with the aim of bringing calm into children’s busy lives.

Chilling out on a yoga mat.

Unlike with adult classes, she doesn’t hold yoga poses for long, as she’s wise enough to know boredom can quickly set in amongst wee ones.

Today’s session is held in Wellbank Village Hall and we start off sitting in a circle on our mats, with Linda asking how everyone’s feeling.

“If children are open about their feelings now, they’ll be able to open up more as adults,” she explains.

Once she’s established most people are happy (although some are less joyous, whether tired, hungry or suffering from coughs and colds), she hands out bottles filled with water and glitter.

When we tip, and then shake our bottles, the glitter moves around wildly, before settling at the bottom, helping to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Gazing into the glitter bottle.

“Think of your minds clearing,” encourages Linda. “Your brain processes so much information throughout the course of the day but you can calm it down, too.”

Sitting cross-legged, Linda takes us through some fun breathing exercises. As we exhale, we “roar” like lions – the noise is ear shattering!

We then make different animal shapes with our bodies – the cat pose (back arched), cow pose (back stretched the opposite way), butterfly wings (flapping our thighs together) and the elephant lurch.

Linda also asks us what we’d put in a hamper to take to the jungle, and there are cries of everything from “chocolate” to “bananas”, and this ultimately results in a series of big stretches (a bit like a crocodile’s teeth shutting) to “close” the hamper.

Pretending to be cats!
Doing the “cat walk”.

It’s not easy to control and keep the attention of a group of toddlers, most of whom are only three years old, but Linda does an epic job.

There are shrieks of excitement when she announces we’re going to play a game of “snakes”. Basically, we have to find pictures of snakes hidden around the hall.

When we reach the relaxation section of the class, which involves switching off the lights and putting on twinkling fairy lights and soothing lavender masks, voices are quieter and eyes are getting sleepy.

Some children hold cuddly toys as they lie back and chill, and by the time the lights come on, many of them are yawning.

Elephants trundling round the hall!
Gayle gets into the swing of things with the cute kids.

Mastering the art of concentration proves tricky for some wee ones, and rather than sitting still, they chatter and move around. But Linda doesn’t try to force them to do anything, preferring instead to gently coax them into a peaceful state.

“Children’s yoga is less prescriptive than adult yoga,” she explains. “It’s more of a yoga ‘adventure’ and the main focus is on having fun, enjoying the sessions and making shapes with your body.

“We work on balance and encourage good sitting and standing. We also look at ways to help get a good night’s sleep.”

Gayle plays at being a gorilla while the children are cats.

While the class I join is jungle-themed, others focus on everything from space travel to bonfire night and Halloween – think ‘rocket breaths’, sparkler poses, witch poses and ghost hunts!

When Linda’s not running yoga classes for children, she works on the family farm in Newbigging and at Gather Coffee Shop in Carnoustie.

With a degree in food nutrition and health, she keeps fit via swimming, yoga, tennis, walking and helping on the farm.

Children’s Yoga with Linda is fantastic fun!
Hanging out with wee yogis.
Thumbs up for children’s yoga!
Looking for “snakes” is one of the fun games played during children’s yoga with Linda.

info

Linda runs children’s yoga classes at Wellbank Village Hall on Thursdays. Ages 3-6 years runs from 4 to 4.45pm and ages 7-12 years runs from 5- to 6pm.

She also runs classes in Friockheim on Saturday mornings as well as working with schools and nurseries across Angus.

For more information on Children’s Yoga with Linda, see www.facebook.com/childrensyogalm/

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