March 19, 2012

Kids Yoga with Phonics

Kids Yoga with Phonics
Little Sensei Studio
2-4 Preschool Smooth Rivers Productions
DVD $24

There are quite a lot of DVD's and programs purporting to teach children yoga, tai chi and even pilates, but Kids Yoga with Phonics is unique in that it combines traditional yogic poses in their simplest forms with an educational component, in this case, the alphabet.

Each of the 26 poses in this 33 minute video corresponds with a letter of the alphabet (C is for Cat's Pose, D is for Dog's Pose / Downward Dog etc.) so that the information is presented and experienced visually, aurally and physically. This does two things. Firstly, it appeals to all three learning styles - visual, aural and haptic - reinforcing the information through multiple mental processes and tying it to the muscle memory associated with each pose. This creates an associative link that is much stronger than a link made by trying to learn the alphabet by rote. Secondly, it's really fun. The music is very kid-centric, as is the pace, which moves along at a measured but energetic clip. Rather than practice in meditative solemnity, the viewer is encouraged to enjoy each pose, fully inhabiting the L for Lion's Pose and the A for Airplane pose with imaginative verve. All of this is done with a sense of authenticity that comes from the fact that the video's instructors are not adults. They are other children in the preschool - primary age group. Despite their youth, however, siblings Juliette and John Rasmussen demonstrate correct form and flow, ensuring that their audience emulates each posture safely and correctly.

While the concept may seem gimmicky to some, it is obvious that a great deal of thought, not to mention research, went into the design and execution of Kids Yoga with Phonics. Appropriate for toddlers as young as 2 and physically fun for kids as old as 8, it manages to teach the alphabet and an ancient meditative practice without making it seem like anything but a really great time. The result is a DVD that kids would very likely choose to make a regular part of their day, adding letter repetition / recognition and the establishment of an active yoga practice to it's impressive list of benefits.

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