RICHMOND, Va. — Yoga instructor Joy Rush teaches kindergartners and first graders at Thales Academy in Richmond all about mindfulness.
“It’s so much fun. They get an opportunity to learn how yoga can be fun and also how it can teach them how to breathe and to self-regulate,” she said.
Those skills are always important, but even more so now that the COVID-19 pandemic turned many lives upside down.
“I literally see my kids and they are trying to get focused and they are doing their fingers– sometimes they do that before I even get started because they feel that anxiety coming on,” she said.
Children aren’t the only ones learning how to get in touch with their emotions. According to a Harvard medical school study, yoga for students has become increasingly popular. Students find it can improve both their physical and mental health.
Joy’s been practicing yoga with little people for about four years. Her own journey has had its ups and downs.
“I had a studio in Short Pump mall and as soon as COVID hit, I was one of the first businesses that had to close down because I was considered like a gymnasium,” she said.
After eight months at her studio, she had to move to virtual classes. The obstacle forced her to get creative.
Earlier this month, she released a yoga book for children.
“The book isn’t necessarily just a book that has a story. It actually gives them specific poses they can do at home, they can do with their parents, they can do with their sisters and brothers, with their friends, or they can just do it by themselves individually,” she said.
Her work was a hit right away on Amazon. A bright spot during a challenging time.
“I can’t believe my book is a best-seller,” she said with a laugh.
She’s still finding her footing after being knocked off balance by the pandemic but said she maintained her joy by helping children find their peace.
“It’s huge for me to teach a class, have them one on one, and be able for them to understand how to do this when they go home,” she said.
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