Children get a chance to stretch themselves

When I was at school, after school clubs offered little more excitement than chess and choir, but nowadays children are being given the opportunity to try their hand at a far wider range of activities – pottery, IT, drama and gardening to name but a few.

Now in schools up and down the country children are being offered the chance to have a go at yoga, and some are even introducing it in PE lessons.

In September 2006, Fenella Lindsell and Lara Goodbody famously turned down offers of cash when they appeared on TV'sDragons' Den because three Dragons wanted double the share in their Yoga Bugs business than they were prepared to part with.

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The gamble paid off and they have gone on to build a franchise operation with 150 locations offered in the UK and have now opened in Australia offering pre-school and school-age yoga classes.

Nel has also been advising the BBC on their new Cbeebies show Waybuloo in which characters practise yoga. Rachel Frazer from Rawden runs a Yoga Bugs franchise in Leeds, Otley and parts of North Yorkshire and she has successfully introduced yoga into 12 schools so far.

"Yoga is a fantastic thing for children," explains Rachel.

"It is non-competitive and allows them to use their imagination while also relaxing and calming down.

"Yoga is still often thought of as something very serious, but the classes aren't like that at all. The children are introduced to the yoga poses through story telling; often the younger children don't even realising they are doing yoga. There are so many competitive sports in schools, and the joy of yoga is that it is non-competitive."

One school where children are benefiting from the delights of yoga is Spofforth Primary School. Head teacher Jane Turner jumped at the chance of adding yoga to the list of after school activities offered at Spofforth.

"We are always looking for different clubs for the children especially if parents would normally have to spend time and money taking them to such activities elsewhere," says Mrs Turner.

"Often that proves a barrier for some parents and so we want to make things more accessible, such as karate and now yoga."

Mrs Turner said the Yoga Bugs club was proving successful and was also

being accessed by some of Spofforth's pre-schoolers.

"The feedback from parents and children has been very positive. We have Healthy School's status so are always looking at different ways of promoting healthy living.

She added that it may be something she would look at introducing into the school curriculum in the future.

"It is something that could fit in as part of our PE lessons. It is very inclusive and everyone, boys and girls, really enjoys it."

Mother-of-one Rachel says some schools have introduced it for primary school pupils before and after sitting their SATS exams as an ideal way of relaxing.

Becky Milner's four-year-old son, Louis, attends Yoga Bugs at Spofforth Primary School. "Louis and his younger brother, Austin, did a taster session which they really enjoyed.

"Because the class is centred around a story, in this case going to the moon, the children were immediately engaged," says Becky.

"There is also a relaxation part of the class where all

the children lie on beanbags and relax which is great."

n YogaBugs Yorkshire. Email: [email protected],

Tel: 0845 899 7245,