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Tween yogis

Girls Rock Yoga classes teach girls mindfulness, empowerment


“Pretend you’re a pegacorn, frolicking through the meadow.”

This is just one of a myriad of musings uttered by the girls in Kim Davies’ Girls Rock Yoga class at Rieke Elementary School.by: CONNECTION PHOTO: DREW DAKESSIAN - Students in Kim Davies' Girls Rock Yoga class at Rieke Elementary School demonstrate the poses they've learned.

Davies, a resident of the Hillsdale neighborhood and mother to a Rieke girl of her own, has been studying for eight years a form of yoga called Yoga Calm and teaching classes inspired by it for two.

“That method is sort of the basis of my class,” Davies said. “I was drawn to it because of the yoga and the social skills and the emotional skill and relaxation components of it, and prior to that I was a special ed. teacher, and I was burnt out of that, so I wanted something different.”

While she initially offered a class for both boys and girls, Davies soon shifted the focus of her paid, after-school classes to girls exclusively.

“I realized that boys needed something very different from girls and was really drawn toward working with the social dynamics of the girl world, so I switched it to just girls,” she said. “The reason I’m doing this is because I was a really sensitive, shy kid, and so I’m really drawn to working with girls in this way to teach them to empower themselves, and to not try to control the situations outside of themselves, but to learn the most they can about themselves and how they can empower their life through changing how they’re behaving and what’s going on inside their head.”

Davies tailored the class curriculum to reflect issues that third, fourth and fifth-grade girls typically encounter.

“We focus on things like gossip and exclusion,” she explained. “A lot of the girls, they’ll have dynamics where two friends will want to get together and they won’t want to include the other person. It’s very complicated in the friendship world of girls — one day you’ll be friends with someone and the next day they’ll be treating you not so great, so we talk about that.”

Her pupils seemed to appreciate this dynamic.

“I really like yoga because you can kind of, like, bring all your problems here,” said Olivia Henderson. “And you can tell everyone and they’ll give you advice

Claire Asplund agreed. “I like this yoga class because it’s relaxing and you can trust all the people.”

“Yoga can be looked at as a principle of being in alignment with yourself — with your body and your mind and your spirit — so it ties in nicely to working with other components of ourselves,” Davies said. “I do a lot of stuff to deal with stress, and that has to do with breathing, which is a big component of yoga and relaxation.”

In addition to teaching the girls empowering yoga poses, Davies incorporates into her classes improvisational games, improving their mindfulness.

“At the end of the class we always do a relaxation exercise,” she said. “I do kind of like a storytelling thing, where they use their imagination and create this world inside their head and invite a wizard into their special place and they can ask … questions. So it’s like getting into their intuition, and they are amazing, what they come up with in their imagination for tools to help them, it’s really fascinating, and they’re so open to it. That’s really cool.”

Davies teaches another Girls Rock Yoga class at Maplewood Elementary School.

“At Maplewood I’m focusing on worry, there’s some kids dealing with a lot of worry, and so so we’re talking about that and putting your attention on it grow. We wrote out our worries and ripped them up into the air.”

She added: “Anything I teach is applicable to adults too. That’s why it each it: because I want to learn it too.”

Davies will also be offering two weeklong summer day camps for fourth-through-seventh-graders, one in June and another in August. And this fall, in addition to her regular Girls Rock Yoga classes for upper elementary schoolers, Davies will start teaching another class for middle school girls at OmBase yoga studio in Hillsdale.

“It’s not a whole lot of yoga; it’s a whole lot of other stuff too,” she said. “The improv that we do is really fun, and (lets) them be able to be silly and expressive.”

Indeed, humor seems to permeate Girls Rock Yoga. One May afternoon, with temperatures outside approaching 90 degrees, one girl jokes that their class, which is held in a portable classroom without much air conditioning to speak of, is truly “hot yoga.”

Davies joyfully reported that Girls Rock Yoga classes really do seem to have a tangible, positive impact on tween girls who take them.

“When you’re a girl, it kind of just makes your life a little bit less stressful,” said Abby Miller. “It calms you down … so you can just, like, be peaceful.”

To learn more about Girls Rock Yoga and to sign up for classes, visit Davies’ website at girlsrockyoga.com.