Wild sides come alive in yoga camp

While yoga is most commonly known as a practice of discipline and meditation, Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District’s Call to the Wild Yoga Camp will encourage kids to unleash their inner yoga animals.

“Kids have a wild nature,” instructor Kristy Tonti said. “How do you not squelch that and also teach them discipline?”

Tonti, an island yoga instructor and certified personal trainer, believes learning the philosophy helps children become better community members through self-discipline and positive activities.

“Our point is to teach kids the fun of yoga and how to make their own practice by giving them enough games and postures where they really have fun and almost kind of disguise the structure and the discipline,” Tonti said. “Kids are amazing, incredibly fast learners and their bodies are naturally able to do most of the poses because they haven’t spent 20 years sitting at a desk in front of a computer.”

In two hours a day at Strawberry Hill Park, Tonti will impart her knowledge through yoga, outdoor adventures, games and crafts.

“We’re going to teach the poses through nature and we’re having a lot of games where they get to be a lot less structured,” she said. “Slowly through the week, we’ll build the amount of poses they have. Which is what yoga is all about.”

The camp, which is geared toward children ages 7-10, takes a holistic approach.

“Autonomy and independence is one of our goals in the class,” she said. “To help them have their own sense of independence by nurturing their bodies and their feelings in a safe place. That’s one of the things you can be really grateful for – creating a safe place where people can be themselves within a structure.”

Since yoga poses were inspired by animals, children will be encouraged to use their imaginations while playing games such as animal freeze tag, Tonti said.

“We have a game and an arts and craft project for every day,” she said. “They will end up with a little book and basically their own practice.”

The camp will use the surrounding nature at Strawberry Hill Park for hands-on learning.

“The games will be a lot of the wild part, but we’ll also go out in the forest right by Strawberry Hill Park and learn about the plants that are right here,” she said.

Another element students will take with them after the camp has ended is everyday food choices.

“We’re going to talk about nutrition and taking care of your bodies,” she said. “You’ve been given this body for this journey, so taking care of it is important. We’re hopefully going to teach them these things without being a health class.”

Simple actions such as regularly drinking water and eating organic fruit for snacks will help to foster positive health choices in the future.

Ultimately, the goal is to help students interact and spend time with their families through yoga.

“The other portion that I’m really interested in is non-segregation in families,” Tonti said. “We have classes for men, classes for women, classes for children and classes for teenagers. I would like to see families practice together. Kids have to know enough to come into an adult class so this will help them feel comfortable enough to come.”

Call to the Wild Yoga Camp

Instructor: Kristy Tonti

1-3:30 p.m. July 26-30, Strawberry Hill Park Mini Gym


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