CALEDONIA — Yoga and mindfulness were a part of the Eco-Justice Center children’s camp program for the first time this summer.

Campers were introduced to basic yoga, breathing exercises and meditation. These simple sessions help children learn to relax and focus. Laura Flanagan, Madison yoga and meditation practitioner, led the weekly sessions for children ages 6 to 10.

Mindfulness and yoga have been shown to help children meet challenges in academics, athletics and in their social lives. Young people learn to deepen their ability to regulate their bodies, focus their minds and harness their inner strength. Flanagan has received letters from past participants of her sessions citing the positive effects when a child has used breathing exercises prior to taking a test or playing a big game. Mindfulness practices give children strategies for dealing with stress in all kinds of situations they face in their lives.

“I think these practices are engaging and fun for our camp participants, and will benefit these individuals outside of camp, and for years to come,” said Charlie Tennessen, Eco-Justice Center board president. “This was a trial program, but because of its success we want to make mindfulness a continued part of our summer camps.”

Flanagan has more than 15 years of experience teaching yoga, meditation and pranayama (breathwork) to diverse audiences including children, hospice workers and educators. Returning from a trip to India, she recently helped launch a new Yoga Teacher Training program for pre-K through 12 school educators in mindfulness practices. Flanagan holds yoga certifications in the 200 hour and 500 hour level.

“It is enjoyable to work with children in the unique and inspiring environment of the Eco-Justice Center,” said Flanagan. I have found children are often more ready to embody the practices of yoga, pranayama and meditation than adults and this has been immensely rewarding to me as an instructor.”

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