PANORAMA - Young at yoga

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To learn more about Imagination Yoga for kids, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 509-527-4527.

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Using words and fingers, Imagination Yoga instructor Jennifer Matson counts down a blast-off for her students as they crouch inside make-believe rocket ships.

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Matson meets her young yoga students with a traditional namaste, a conventional expression of greeting.

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As the session winds down, Matson flies a finger puppet butterfly above the reaching arm of 4-year-old Noah Van Donge Ross. The quiet, softly fluttering butterfly calms the children on their return to earth and the peaceful recline of their yoga mats.

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To learn more about Imagination Yoga for kids, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 509-527-4527.

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To learn more about Imagination Yoga for kids, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 509-527-4527.

photo

To learn more about Imagination Yoga for kids, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 509-527-4527.

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Students mimic the finer points of Matson's movement with flexibility.

Asteroids and spacesuits are not usually associated with yoga.

Then again, the four participants at a recent Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Department yoga class at the Carnegie Center were not your typical yoga enthusiasts.

Though each was more flexible than your average adult, there wasn't a single tattoo among the them and all were under four feet tall.

"We had an amazing time on the moon. But it's time to get right back into our rocket ships," Imagination Yoga instructor Jennifer Matson said to her yoga students, who ranged from ages 4 to 6.

Unlike the typical yoga class, where a breathy voiced instructor tranquilly calls out moves such as Downward Facing Dog or Morning Salutation, Matson's upbeat voice was more geared toward keeping the attention of young wandering minds.

"I want you back in your rocket ships ... put on your helmets. Put on your oxygen. Put on your boots. Put on your gloves. One. Two. Three. Four. Five," Matson said, counting each digit for the gloves, and perhaps teaching a couple of kids to count at the same time.

Space travel was the evening's theme, and as the children balanced to put on their boots and reached up to put on their helmets, it did look a bit like yoga moves.

More importantly, the kids were getting exercise and having fun with their imaginations.

"I think overall that all kids can benefit from this," Matson said.

A certified Imagination Yoga instructor, Matson also teaches a class for children with developmental disabilities.

To learn more about Imagination Yoga for kids, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 509-527-4527.

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