“Practice what you teach” could be Katie Huber’s motto.
The certified facilitator has two young children, and yoga is something she practices with them.
Huber will be offering two Itsy Bitsy Yoga (IBY) classes at the tomorrow, Feb. 16. IBY is the international yoga brand for “babies, toddlers and tykes” created by Helen Garabedian in 1999.
This brand is now taught by certified facilitators in 12 countries throughout the world.
It may come as a surprise to the uninitiated that babies as young as 6 weeks old can derive benefits from yoga. “They can’t do full yoga practice,” said Huber, who was introduced to IBY when her 4 1/2-year-old daughter was 13 months old.
She has seen the class function as an ad hoc playgroup as well, noting that “parents form friendships and find other people in the exact same life stage.”
Huber said the distinction between different age groups is a gray area, based more on developmental stage than age. The transition from “babies to tots is when they are actively crawling, essentially 1 to 2 years old—11 to 24 months,” she said. “Even children who aren’t walking can do downward facing dog,” she noted, referring to a traditional yoga pose.
After babies and tots, the last category in Garabedian’s hierarchy is for toddlers in the pre-school years. “They are ready to progress to Tykes when they are walking, they have the ability to concentrate, sit and focus, hold poses longer, usually age 2 to 4-and-a-half or 5,” said Huber.
Each of Huber’s classes is a one-time introduction to yoga. As children progress in their development, Huber offers age-appropriate activities geared to their new mobility and cognitive ability. “In each program we work on one thing to develop gross motor skills and to refine fine motor skills.”
For example, “We use stickers for fine motor skills, and crawling around can enhance handwriting.” The parent, grandparent, mom or dad doesn’t need any yoga experience, but it is a relaxing learning experience for them as well.
Huber is a certified IBY facilitator and a registered adult and children’s yoga instructor through the Yoga Alliance, a national yoga teacher’s registry that promotes teachers with training who meet the organization’s standards.
She has established her own program, Bright & Early Yoga, which offers classes in Baltimore and Howard counties for the whole family, including babies, tots, children, teens and adults—even a special Moms Night Out yoga workshop.
“Families have been very interested in introducing yoga to young children ... Baltimore County has been forward-thinking” about the idea, she said.
She has been working in the Baltimore County Public Library system since 2008, when she did her first program at the Arbutus Library.
“I had practiced yoga since 1999,” recalls Huber. She was working in advertising and marketing when she discovered yoga. As she became more proficient and had children of her own, she realized it was the perfect new career for her.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to spend time with my family,” she said. Now the mother of two daughters, including a 2 1/2-year-old, she says it’s worth it to have an inconsistent schedule and to be able to bring the gift of yoga to so many families.
"It’s wonderful to reach out to all these families, to see yoga through the eyes of their children,” she said.
The Bright & Early Yoga Class Schedule will be updated as Huber revamps for spring. Right now she offers the baby program at the JCC in Owings Mills, and the toddler and pre-school program at the Yoga Center of Columbia.
On Wednesday, February 16 Huber will teach two yoga classes. Registration is required:
- (12 to 24 months, crawlers and walkers) from 9:15 to 10 a.m.
- from 10:15 to 11 a.m.
This spring Huber will offer her Itsy Bitsy Yoga classes again at the Pikesville Branch Library. Registration is required. Please call 410-887-1234 to confirm dates and times:
- Babies: Wednesday, March 16, from 10:15 to 11 a.m.
- Tots: Wednesday, April 13, from 10:15 to 11 a.m.
- Tykes: Wednesday, May 18, from 10:15 to 11 a.m.
For more information about library events, visit The Pikesville Branch Library's Calendar of Events, or call 410-887-1234.
The library is located at 1301 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon. through Thurs., 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat., and from 1-5 p.m. Sun.
Ruth Goldstein is a freelance writer and a lifelong patron of the Pikesville Branch Library.