Yoga Stretches Kids’ Bodies – and Minds

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Ali Smith, a co-founder of the nonprofit Holistic Life Foundation Inc., leads children during an after-school yoga and mindfulness session at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in West Baltimore. Photos by Gary Gately. 

Put 50 kids in an elementary school gym, and you expect cacophony – shrieks, squeals of delight, laughter – and that’s what you get at Robert W. Coleman Elementary in West Baltimore.

That is, until the kids get the cue to sit on their mats and begin their deep-breathing exercises.

The gym quickly goes silent but for the steady sound of in-and-out, in-and-out breathing of the children in unison, and the occasional reminders and encouragement from a yoga instructor.

“Inhale. Think of everybody you love,” says Atman Smith, a yogi and one of the co-founders of the non-profit Holistic Life Foundation Inc., which runs a yoga and mindfulness program at the school.

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