For Miriam Leo-Gindin, founder of the Yoga Buggy, COVID-19 has meant more opportunities to bring her passion for yoga to Vancouver youth – free of charge.
Leo-Gindin, 41, a former school teacher who has taught yoga in various capacities, including at Vancouver Talmud Torah, founded her Vancouver-based nonprofit organization in 2017. Until recently, she was offering free Zoom yoga classes to kids, but, thanks to sponsorship from the Canadian Red Cross, she’s been able to offer physically distanced classes at McSpadden and Woodland parks to local children and their families.
“I’ve been doing yoga since I was 19 and it helped me get through some of my own health issues,” she told the Independent. “I founded Yoga Buggy to bring yoga to all kids and families, including those who are underserved, have financial difficulties or don’t have access for other reasons.”
The “buggy” part of Yoga Buggy refers to its mobile nature. Leo-Gindin’s classes are portable, so she is able to bring them to before- and after-school programs and to parks, so that families don’t have to travel far to participate. In addition to the Red Cross, her organization also has received funding from the B.C. Recreation and Parks Association.
Pre-pandemic, Leo-Gindin was doing around 25 classes per week all over the city, in Vancouver schools, YMCAs and neighbourhood homes, while also planning expansion into Burnaby, Richmond and Coquitlam. When COVID-19 began, she launched Community Zoom Yoga, offering two sessions a week for 12 weeks. The classes had a variety of themes, from community kindness to staying healthy, and were geared at children ages 5 through 12. There were also classes for preschoolers and teens.
“Yoga is really fun and kids enjoy it,” she reflected. “It brings out their creativity, helps build their attention span, makes them feel more confident, and can play a supportive role in dealing with anxiety, depression and behavioural issues.”
The website notes, “Yoga Buggy’s trauma-aware practitioners strive to offer as welcoming a space as possible. Choice in how to participate is always at the forefront of our classes and events. If there are any sensory, learning or additional supports that could be of benefit to any of the participants, please let us know so that we can offer as hospitable a space as possible. This information is kept private and confidential.”
Yoga Buggy has 15 active teachers and will continue its work through the fall. Leo-Gindin hopes to develop a yoga teacher training program and to start a YouTube channel to increase her reach even further with kids yoga classes. For more information, visit yogabuggy.com.
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net.
Note: This article has been updated to make clear that, while Miriam Leo-Gindin taught yoga at Vancouver Talmud Torah, she was not on staff at the school.