The popular practice of yoga is trickling down to youngsters.
Samantha "Sam" Breit Schroeder, a Laguna Beach resident, has taken her years of yoga practice and started Mindful Octopus, a storytelling, yoga and art class for children.
The hour-long sessions, which take place at the AR4T gallery in town and the Resort at Pelican Hill, are themed with a specific story each week. There are two classes, one for children ages 3 to 5 and a second for children 6 to 10.
"We introduce kids to folks, fables and legends from different cultures, and these stories carry beautiful messages ... and the art of storytelling is a lost art," Schroeder said. "It's such a powerful part of the program."
After the story is told, the children retell that story through yoga poses such as a brave and courageous lion pose or the compassionate rabbit pose. They finish the class with a relevant art project.
"To kids in today's fast-pace world, [this is a way they can] check in and see how they are feeling, [check in] with their thoughts, use their breath to calm down their nerves if they are feeling upset," she said. "Yoga is this ancient science developed thousands of years ago and if you look around, there are wonderful advances with technology, but we're losing ourselves."
Schroeder has studied yoga for years and later got her certification to teach the classes. She started Mindful Octopus in January. The name stems from the teaching of yoga to be mindful or present in the moment. Octopus is a reference to the eight yoga sutras of Patanjali, also known as the eight limbs of yoga.
"Inspired by the eight limbs of yoga, I created the 'eight tentacles,' a modern version of the eight limbs of yoga, designed specifically for children," she further explained in an email. "The eight tentacles form the structure of all Mindful Octopus classes."
Those eight tentacles are story, mindfulness, yoga, breath, mediation, self-realization, karma and art.
"I was inspired being a stay-at-home and raising two boys .... and seeing the world under different eyes," said Schroeder, who has a 4-year-old and 2-year-old.
Popular stories have been "Why Clouds Are in the Sky?" "The Rabbit's Judgment," and "How the Parrot Got Its Colours."
"I love those 'why' stories," Schroeder said. "They're really fun to retell."
Classes are limited to 10 to 20 kids. Drop-in fee is $20 per class and special membership or bulk class packages are sold at a discount.
Schroeder hopes to grow the business enough that she can franchise the business model out to schools and others, with the stories as blueprints to teach the kids lessons.
"There are so many studies about how great yoga is for kids — it's a lifelong gift."
A class schedule and other information can be found at http://www.mindfuloctopus.com.