A new traveling modern yoga exhibit teaches kids about the importance of movement, for everyone.
A new children's museum exhibit highlights yoga as a tool for kids who feel shy or are unable to engage in team sports to get active. Run, Jump, Fly! Adventures in Action, which opened in February at the Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul, features yoga along with climbing, dancing, and bicycling to inspire kids to enjoy physical fitness. "We really wanted to emphasize just moving," says Samantha Moy, a spokesperson for the museum, explaining the motivation for the traveling exhibit.
The exhibit offers fun challenges related to balance, strength, coordination, and cardiovascular endurance. Kids test their cardiovascular endurance on a stationary bicycle that simulates pedal-powered flight through the sky, and they practice surfing or snowboarding using balance boards backed by video sequences. Another feature shows kids dance, strength training, and beginning hatha yoga techniques to try at home.
"We want the visitors to explore yoga as a fun but potentially gentler, quieter physical activity than what is often offered to children," said Shari Aronson, the exhibit's developer, who has practiced hatha yoga for 17 years.
In addition to briefly describing yoga's origins, the exhibit introduces yogic breathing techniques, or Pranayama. It also demonstrates, through pictures and worded instructions, basic asanas: Downward-Facing Dog, Cat-Cow, Tree, Half Moon, and Bridge poses.
The exhibit challenges traditional notions about who can participate in physical activities. Aronson consulted with adaptive-yoga specialist Matthew Sanford, a paraplegic yoga instructor in the Iyengar tradition and author of the book Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence. The exhibit shows photographs of kids doing the poses, then children with disabilities doing adapted poses—say, by leaning on a wall or pushing against a tabletop—to get the general shape and to glean the benefits of the pose.
"What I wanted to get across—and I think kids will figure it out—is that the adaptive pose is not that different," says Sanford. The exhibit also depicts the experience of a blind snow-boarder and a wheelchair cyclist.
Run, Jump, Fly! will travel to children's museums in California, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, Texas, and Canada through 2011.
See also 3 Ways to Get Kids Stoked About Yoga