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FAMILY NETWORK FINDS YOGA INSPIRES DISTRATCTION-FREE PLAY

Family Network in Highland Park is launching a Yoga Together class in early January that could simultaneously satisfy any number of resolutions parents of young children might make heading into the New Year.

Vowing to be more physically active? Spend more quality time with your tykes? Resolving not to let the winter weather keep you cooped up indoors?

The Parent-Child Drop In Center of Family Network is starting a Yoga Together class for parents or caretakers and youngsters between the ages of 2 1/2 and 5. The offering is inspired by the center’s success introducing yoga to young children.

“There is a lot of literature that talks about the power of yoga with young children and how it helps to stimulate creativity through play,” said Eileen Tarnoff,  who has been teaching yoga to preschoolers at the Drop In Center.

“This is the time when the brain is very active, and we are getting them to be creative and use their bodies.”

On a recent morning, Tarnoff opened the yoga session by passing around Tibetan bell chimes so everyone could have a turn creating the sounds that signal the opening and closing of each session. Then she took her cues from the youngsters’ suggestions about the animals they wished to mimic.

“We are going to go to the zoo,” said Tarnoff, modeling the monkey pose suggested by one tyke, later a tiger position offered up by another.

“For children at this age, yoga is play,” explained Tarnoff. “You look at how much time some kids and some families spend in front of the television, or using electronic devices,” said Tarnoff, of the introduction of electronic devices at ever earlier ages.

“The yoga class is a time when we say, Let’s use our bodies. Let’s use our imagination. Let’s be creative.”

Tarnoff says she hears anecdotally from parents that some of the kids reluctant to participate in class go home and do yoga. ”They don’t always necessarily feel comfortable doing it here, but they go home and do it. ”

The Yoga Together class will begin Wednesday, Jan. 7 and meet from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on four consecutive Wednesdays. The fee is $40. Activitees will include yoga poses, stories, artwork based on story themes and music.

“Then we will have time for a snack and the parents will also have some time to interact with each other,” said Tarnoff, a licensed clinical social worker and center volunteer who will teach the class with Amy Micari, a Drop-In Center teacher.

“When you are working with kids 2 1/2 to 5, you are not looking at an hour and a half yoga class.”

The center is located at 330 Laurel Avenue, on the lower level of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church. For information, visit www.familynetworkcenter.org.

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