For one Illinois Girl Scout, learning yoga has had unexpected applications. "When a friend gets mad at me and I don't want to say anything mean, I do a yoga move—and then I just calm down," says Gretta Grzadziel, 13, a scout from Elgin, Illinois. In 2006, Grzadziel earned her local troop's yoga patch, a lavender and orange badge created for the Sybaquay, Illinois, Girl Scout Council to meet the growing interest in yoga among its members. To earn the patch, a scout must attend a yoga class, teach at least one yoga pose to at least one friend, and practice ahimsa, or nonharming, toward all living creatures for a week.
"We thought of 10 things that emanated from yoga," says Lisa Gniady, a stock trader turned yoga instructor who developed the patch. A mother of two, Gniady specializes in slow-flow yoga and teaches local Girl Scouts elementary poses and meditation.
While yoga isn't yet recognized as an official Girl Scout activity, local councils can develop their own patches, explains Michelle Tompkins, communications specialist with Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Yoga does fill the requirements of some official health-related badges, including those for stress reduction and fitness.
In 2006, the Girl Scout Research Institute survey found that most girls are interested in a healthful lifestyle. "For girls, emotional health is as important as physical health," says Judy Schoenberg, one of the institute's senior researchers.
Carolyn Clarke of San Diego, who is a YogaKids-trained instructor, recalls one Girl Scout attributing her stress to the fact that her sister had recently been placed in foster care. "That's when I realized I was reaching out to kids who might not ordinarily take our class," she says.