Yoga instructor loves the energy of teaching children sessions at the Park City Library
Weekly classes offered for free
Certified yoga practitioner Julie Jahp adds her own twists when she teaches children.
“When we do the tree pose, I like to ask the kids what kind of trees they are,” said Jahp, who has taught yoga for more than 10 years. “They can be apple trees, peach trees or rainbow trees, because there are no wrong answers in my class.”
Local kids and their parents will get a chance to sample one of Jahp’s kids classes at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 19, at the Park City Library patio. The session is free, and registration isn’t required.
“My program works best when it’s open,” said Jahp, who is also a teacher at the Park City Cooperative Preschool that holds classes at the Park City Library. “I don’t want people to have to sign up. I just want people to show up, and I want them to be there because they can or want to.”
The class will be held outside, weather permitting, according to Jahp.
“I love doing yoga outside, but if it gets too hot or there is bad weather, we have the option of moving inside,” she said.
The class is designed for ages 3 and older, but families with kids as young as 2 are welcome, Jahp said.
“We really don’t put an age limit on this, but parents with kids younger than 3 typically stay with and take the class with,” she said.
Jahp chooses themes for each of her sessions, and those themes can range from zoo animals to sea creatures or plants, to name a few.
“Every class changes, but they all start the same,” she said. “We will sit on our mats at the beginning to connect and get to know each other. Then we will get up and move for a good 30 to 40 minutes.”
One of the main things Jahp teaches is pose diversity.
“Kids sometimes get so anxious to make sure they do everything right, so I let them know that everyone is going to look different,” she said. “I tell them that our bodies are different, and there are so many different options in doing a tree pose or downward dog. I tell them that they just need to do what feels good with their bodies.”
Still, the 10 to 15 poses Jahp teaches in the session are the same she has taught to adults.
“Yoga poses don’t vary,” she said. “An eagle pose for an adult is the same pose for children. And while we do make modifications, all the kids need to do is listen, follow directions and do what I do. I just try to make it fun.”
Jahp’s introduction to yoga came from her youngest daughter, who was struggling with anxiety.
“She and a couple of her friends found a yoga class, and one day she asked me to take it with her,” Jahp said. “Things really took off from there. I have six kids, and I found that yoga was very good for me mentally and physically.”
Jahp began using the yoga principles she learned in her 25-year career as a preschool teacher.
“I created a yoga corner for kids to go and sit when they were struggling to pay attention in class, and I had made some meditation jars out of glitter water and glue that would just fascinate the kids,” she said. “So if any of my students got wound up and weren’t listening, they could just go over to the corner, do their own thing and calm themselves down.”
Calming oneself is a basic teaching of yoga, according to Jahp.
“After doing this for all these years, I know that kids have to learn how to calm themselves down, because parents really don’t know how to help them,” she said. “They can tell them what to do, but kids really need to figure things out on their own.”
One of the first things of calming oneself down is to take a deep breath, and that is something Jahp teaches in her sessions.
“I like to tell my classes that I’m going to teach them how to breathe,” she said with a laugh. “Taking a breath is where everything starts. In order to regulate their own emotions, they need to be aware of their breathing.”
To help illustrate the point, Jahp uses an array of props that she has gathered throughout her years as a preschool teacher.
“We’ll put feathers, straws or even their own finger under their noses so they can feel how they are breathing,” she said. “Usually these things are new to most kids, and they get so intrigued by what we’re doing.”
The idea for a kids yoga class on the Park City Library patio came from child services librarian Katrina Kmak, who has known Jahp for years.
“Katrina knows I teach kids yoga in Salt Lake and she asked me one day if I would like to teach out on the library patio,” Jahp said. “Since I do a yoga summer camp, we worked it into my schedule.”
Jahp’s goal is to continue teaching kids yoga on the patio through the fall.
“I would love to do it weekly, and I think Katrina and I are going to work something out,” she said.
When: 10 a.m. Monday, July 19
Where: Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave.
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