By Lissette Gonzalez

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – We all know there are plenty of health benefits to doing yoga so why not let your kids join in.

CBS4 Meteorologist Lissette Gonzalez recently enjoyed some fresh air at a “Mommy and Me” yoga class with her 3-year-old daughter Sofia at Kendale Lakes Park.

Through CBS4’s Moving You campaign, she met Evelyns Gaiti, yoga instructor and creator of “Arka Yoga and Arts for Kids.”

“I’ve been a developmental therapist for about 30 years working with special kids. This class is a mix of regular kids with special kids. I noticed that my practice as a yoga teacher helped them to become more efficient in motor skills, autoregulation skills and helped them improve concentration,” explained Gaiti.

In addition to traditional yoga poses and breathing exercises, Gaiti’s class also integrates books, singing, dancing, games, and art. Lissette’s daughter Sofia had fun learning about frogs and hopping around like one. Lissette and Sofia also enjoyed the books during story time. Sofia especially loved drawing and painting during the arts and crafts portion of the class.

“I’m offering yoga and art. The part of the crafts is after yoga, because once you are moving your gross motor part, you can create more in the fine motor area. And the art part of the brain is working with creativity,” says Gaiti. “We are working both sides of the brain in the same session.”

Gaiti says her love for children, especially those with special needs, motivated her to find the best tools that could benefit and improve kids’ lives and their families. Gaiti’s program incorporates therapeutic techniques and props, which guide and integrate all the kids through the yoga session.

Mother Vivian Abreu and her daughter Annie have been working with Gaiti and participating in her yoga class for many years. Abreu explains how the class has been beneficial for her and her daughter.

“Annie has cerebral palsy & Hypotonia, so this has been very helpful for her condition, she has evolved positively, tremendously since she started working with Evelyns,” said Abreu.

“I enjoy the fact that she gets to interact with other children, while exercising in a very healthy environment and yoga is excellent for children,” explains Abreu.

Research has shown that Yoga helps children learn about their bodies, breathe better, use their energy more effectively and listen with attention. Studies have also shown Yoga helps kids build self-esteem and promotes respect, compassion and sharing.

Abreu says her daughter Annie has become stronger and more flexible. The yoga and arts class has “given her more freedom and self-confidence to exercise and become more open to work with different texture. All of this has helped her go beyond and become more like regular child.”

The class allows mothers and their kids to connect in a natural outdoor setting while enjoying some quality one-on-one time.

“The energy I get from this is priceless, from the mommies, from the children and from Evelyns. This is an extraordinary experience,” says Abreu.

“I created the class for mommies & children together because they are bonding together. They are moving together and that creates self-esteem in kids to be more confident,” explains Gaiti.

Every class ends with the moms and their kids stating the following affirmation together:

“We are happy, we are strong, we are smart and so long. Namaste.”

Classes are open to kids of all ages and usually meet once a week.

Click here for more information on how to join a class.

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