Engaging children with yoga night in North Philadelphia

Children in the "Tree pose."

Aiming to introduce youngsters and adults to the benefits of yoga, a nonprofit organization is taking the discipline to a North Philadelphia community center.

The After School Activities Partnership (ASAP) will host its second annual Community Yoga Night from 5 p.m. 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Honickman Learning Center at 1936 N. Judson Street

"This is a way for us to introduce this very wonderful, peaceful and relaxing alternative form of exercise," said Maria Walker, executive director of ASAP, an organization devoted to keeping youths from kindergarten to 12th grade safe and active after school.

Walker said that last year yoga night was held at Shaw Middle School at 54th Street and Warrington Avenue and that the children especially enjoyed the program. She said the yoga night features a team of instructors whose individual focus is on teaching young children, adolecents and adults.

In many Philadelphia neighborhoods people are not familiar with yoga, Walker said. "Sometimes they think it's a religion. … Once we explain to them that it’s a form of exercise and relaxation and stretching, then they are interested."

Yoga night is a way to engage children and adults in neighborhoods throughout the city, Walker said. "We have to make alternative activities available to young kids. Yoga and drama and these activities cannot be exclusive to certain neighborhoods. Our goal is to allow every kid to experience different forms of enrichment activities no matter where they live in Philadelphia."