Mats, Mommy and me

Instructor teaches yoga for fun and fitness to moms and children

Instructor teaches yoga for fun and fitness to moms and children

March 23, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

MIDDLETOWN, Md. -- While soft music plays in the background, Renée Schuckman of Boonsboro is sitting on her knees with her legs tucked underneath her.

"Do you want to ride a horsey?" she says to her students. She lifts herself off her knees and flicks her imaginary reins.

The children quickly scamper into position and imitate her. There's even a few neighs.

Schuckman isn't teaching the young students about animals (that's an added bonus), but showing them some basic yoga movements in terms they can understand. She teaches two Mommy and Child Yoga classes at Middletown United Methodist Church. Classes are from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Mondays or 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. Tuesdays. The classes run through April 28.

About seven years ago, Schuckman began teaching yoga for adults. After having her own children, Morgan, now 4, and Ayden, 2, Schuckman wanted to teach a class that gave moms and their children something to do that's fun and fitness-oriented.


"Moms don't get to do much besides take care of the children," she says. "I wanted to be able to have something they could do together."

Although the class is mostly for prekindergarten children, Schuckman welcomes "infants and up." She just asks that moms be present with their children.

Schuckman says the class is 30 minutes long, about the length of a child's attention span.

"It's not about discipline, it's about getting fit and having fun," she says.

One way to keep children involved is by using themes and props every week. This particular class is a farm theme. She has a bag of small animals that when squeezed make the appropriate sound. The previous class was about shapes. "We try to be creative," she says.

A theme using the alphabet is a favorite with older kids, she says.

With the Mommy and Child Yoga class, Schuckman says it does help little ones to learn how to focus. The various poses also improve flexibility and balance, she says.

But, she says, it can also give more than athleticism.

"It can help a child's confidence," she says. "Yoga is non-competitive, which makes it good for youngsters."

It's also a sport that doesn't require a lot of equipment. Schuckman urges participants to wear something comfortable and bring a yoga mat or towel to work out on.

Nicole Ruark of Hagerstown brought her daughter, Kenna, 4, to a class. Ruark says Kenna took classes with Schuckman at South Pointe Fitness Center in Hagerstown.

"I think that things get so crazy and you're trying to balance everything that having some time to focus on her is very important," she says.

With yoga, Ruark says she has noticed that her daughter's balance has improved.

But for Ruark, it's also about teaching Kenna early about the importance of health.

"What I'm trying to give her is lifelong moving," she says.

As for her daughter, it's about having fun.

"I like the tree pose 'cause I like to sing the tree song," Kenna says.

Cost is $10 per class, but if parents pay in advance get one free class. And, because Schuckman knows that life happens, she will offer make-up classes.

"If you can give the gift of health, it's priceless," Schuckman says.

If you go ...

What: Mommy and Child Yoga

When: 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. Tuesday mornings through April 28

Where: Sanctuary of the Middletown United Methodist Church, 7108 Fern Circle, Middletown, Md.

Cost: $10 per class

More: There is also a class from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Mondays. Comfortable attire is recommended; bring a yoga mat or towel.

Contact: Call Renée Schuckman at 240-625-5067

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