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Yoga’s great for kids, too

Jennifer Russo was at a crossroads three years ago while living in Denver and working as a special-education teacher. The West Seneca native wanted to be back home, closer to family, and connect with new friends in a resurgent city.

“I had heard about the benefits of yoga at the time and figured I’d try it out,” she said. “I went to Power Yoga Buffalo and I was hooked from Day One. It just helps you heal and open up. I got into art at the same time.”

Russo, 30, a former special-education teacher who leads social painting parties with Paint Nite, will be among five certified kids yoga instructors to lead classes at HEAL Bflo II, an expanded reprise of a February event held at The Foundry on Elmwood Avenue.

The latest installment will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. next Sunday in Marcy Casino at Delaware Park. Adults can register themselves and their kids for the event at healbflo.com. All are welcome to stop by and support local artists, businesses, chefs and musicians who will be part of festivities. This will be the first time a yoga retreat for children aged 4 to 12 will be part of what organizers hope will be a continuing string of events.

Q. How can kids benefit from yoga?

It can help release stress, raise self-awareness. It helps them become more creative. It helps with focus and concentration. It lets them be themselves, feel comfortable with themselves in a creative space.

Q. What do kids generally find easier and more difficult to do yoga-wise than adults?

Easier – they’re more willing to try things, to fall, and to be OK with that. Adults are more hesitant. They think, “Oh, my God, how am I going to look?” Kids don’t care about that. More difficult – it takes being more creative with the delivery, meeting kids where they’re at. We could go in with a plan, but they may or may not do what we’re doing. We keep all the kids involved and if someone has an idea, we veer from our plan.

Q. Have you seen a difference in the kids you’ve taught at Power Yoga Buffalo since October?

We’ve seen them grow and mature. They’re getting better with the poses and able to hold poses longer. They’re able to stay focused longer. We’ve heard from the parents, too, that yoga carries over into everything in their lives. We’ve had a couple kids say they’re doing yoga at school and they already know how to do the poses. They’ve become leaders.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Learn more about HEAL Bflo II at refresh.buffalonews.com.