The Littlest Yoga Revolution is Led by a Lady in Pigtails
by Gabriela Rose Mirasola
According to anybody who has ever tried it, yoga is hard. Aside from the physical exercise that builds strength, flexibility, and stamina, the practice of yoga encompasses mindfulness, breathwork, and spiritual practices to promote overall wellness.
At Bozza Yoga Littles in Bergen County, New Jersey, the littlest yogi is just six months old!
“The only way to find our yoga studio is to look up!” Bozza Yoga’s website states. Located on the second story of a brick building in the heart of Allendale, Bozza Yoga is a beautiful studio flooded with natural light, bright colors, and good vibes.
Bozza Yoga Littles offers a Mommy and Me class for any child under the age of two, “The Littlest Yogi” class for three to five year olds, and a class for eleven to fourteen year olds.
These classes incorporate yoga into stories and games to keep the littlest yogi engaged, excited, and moving. The goal is to work towards independence and the ability for the little yogi to evolve their practice on their own.
When you enter the studio, you’re met with a beautiful open space, friendly faces, and- of course- littles getting ready for class and lining up ready to see their favorite grown up yogi, and owner of Bozza Yoga Littles, Miss Denise Bozza.
“I have watched some extraordinary things happen in my yoga studio since I opened in September 2021.” Bozza says.
According to the National Library of Medicine, high rates of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic symptoms have been identified among children who missed out on schooling for long periods of time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Along with the impact the pandemic has had on mental health, there are a number of crucial skills that children may not have been able to develop at home including emotional regulation, patience, and sharing.
Bozza shares how she ensures to stay mindful of this information during her classes and loves to see how yoga helps the littles catch up and go beyond their age’s expected social and emotional skills.
“Starting with the kids born in the early ages of pre-covid or in the beginning of the pandemic who have had little to no social interaction…seeing them experience sharing, making friends, and venturing outside their comfort zone in our safe environment and flourishing in our yoga room…” Bozza shares, “It’s so beautiful to watch them bloom!”
Blooming is the perfect word to describe the magic that happens at Bozza Yoga Littles. Bozza strives to teach littles to see their true worth and describes them as little bodies garnering superhero strength, emotional maturity, and self expression through yoga.
“I love practicing my breathing!” says two year old (but almost three year old- a very important detail) Ryan Ianora.
Ryan has been doing yoga since the studio opened almost a year ago. She loves mickey mouse, cheese, and- of course- yoga with Miss Denise.
At every chance she gets, she showcases her down dog, lizard, and shares her affirmations with you!
“I am strong, I am smart, I am kind!” She says, accompanied by the sign language motions for strong, smart, and kind.
Affirmations have been shown to boost self-esteem and promote a growth mindset for people of all ages, and at Bozza Yoga Littles even the littlest yogi is growing more confident every class!
“They love the sign language and practice all the way to the door!” says sixty-four year old Aurora Coya, one of the instructors at Bozza Yoga Littles.
Coya has been practicing and loving yoga for over twenty years. She decided to get her teaching certification during the COVID lockdown of 2020 to cope with the rapidly changing world. She has always loved children. With eight grandchildren, she has been able to familiarize herself with the different stages of development and is fascinated by the different ways yoga can benefit all age groups.
Once a week, Coya visits the Prodigy Academie in Mahwah, New Jersey to teach a half hour yoga class to seven three year old littles. “They come running in bouncing off the walls…when they leave they walk away centered and ready to focus.”
She starts with an activity to get the energy out like hokey-pokey, then they begin their yoga practice. When Coya rings a chime, the little yogis know it’s time to sit down to begin their affirmations. While they don’t know it yet, this is the beginning of mindfulness practices.
“To end the class we sing This Little Light of Mine, I tell them they each have a little light inside their hearts,” Coya shares. Then all together they sing, “I’m gonna let it shine!”
Bozza Yoga’s mission statement introduces what they bring to their practice and what they hope to incorporate into your own little’s life:
To support a healthy body through yogic movement, to promote self regulation for a child’s emotions through mindfulness, and to provide the tools to ground themselves using their breath and meditation, cultivating valuable coping mechanisms, as well as body awareness and emotional intelligence. Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy child!