Instructors: Main Goal Is Giving Children An Outlet And Place To Relax

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A yoga program originally designed for kids dealing with developmental and behavioral issues has opened its doors to all kids in need of a little stress relief.

Beth Israel Medical Center started the kids’ yoga program for 4- to 13-year-olds diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and autism, but the program’s director said the health effects of yoga are beneficial for all kids.

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“Our kids are overstimulated. The amount of screen time, television, video games, noise,” Dr. Asma Sadiq of Beth Israel told CBS 2’s Katie McGee. “I think the focus on the breath, particularly, and the mindfulness piece of yoga is something that is very powerful.”

Sadiq and the hospital’s in-house yoga expert, Jillian Friedman, run the program, which meets once a week in Union Square.

“The program is an-all inclusive program,” Friedman told McGee.

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“The yoga practice really helps kids focus. It helps bring them into their bodies,” Sadiq told McGee. “They’re aware of their bodies and the boundaries of their bodies, and what they’re capable of.”

“I’m very stressed out with the new school year coming,” 11-year-old Michael O’Brien said during his first yoga class. “I thought this would soothe my body.”

The instructors focus on proper yoga poses and breathing techniques, but said the main goal is giving kids an outlet and a place to relax.

“It’s fun and it’s interactive. It also could be social,” Sadiq said. “But you’re doing this for yourself…you are competing with yourself and getting a sense of who you are.”

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The kids’ yoga program is open to all kids and is free, though a $10 donation is suggested.