Entrepreneur Mixes Up Yoga, Cyndi Lauper and Kids

You wouldn’t expect Lady Gaga or Cyndi Lauper music to be pumping through the speakers at your average yoga studio, but that's what you'll find here. And the founder of Karma Kids says it is just part of what keeps it carving its own unique path in between the “ohms” and “ahhs” of New York City’s yoga scene. Along with concentration and relaxation, the Greenwich Village-based studio, owned by Shari Blatt, is also teaching its little yogis to have some fun.

Karma Kids, which opened in 2003 with only 10 classes a week, managed to not only stay afloat during the recession, but actually grow. Today it offers more than 100 classes per week at its main studio, as well as at different schools around the city. The studio offers classes for teens as well as families and even babies, with parental help of course.

Blatt credits her success to reasonable pricing and a unique market. Classes are $25 each, and during the recession she offered a teaser drop-in for parents new to yoga at $10 a session. Karma Kids, one of two studios catering specifically to kids and teens in the city, also gives out two free classes per week on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“There is enough yoga to go around,” Blatt said, surrounded by her bright green floor and flower- stenciled walls. “More people are bringing yoga into their lives. Doctors and guidance counselors are recommending it for children to get their energy out.”

Many children have weak backs and cores, so this also helps to strengthen their frames and better their posture, Blatt said.

Blatt works through the poses at an afternoon class with five and six-year-olds, using her sing-song voice as she instructs them,“criss, cross apple sauce, rub hands and feet, sit up tall, take a deep breath and ‘ohm.’”She even has them add a ‘woof, woof’ to the downward facing dog, and lets them howl at the ‘moon’ while stretching out their backs.

The kids are typically calm and responsive to Blatt’s tone, concentrating on standing tall and getting the movements right.

Parent Meri Tritler said she began bringing her son Jake, 6, to Karma Kids nearly four months ago after he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Jake’s concentration has improved at home and in school, and he enjoys the mix of fun and games the yoga classes give him.

“I thought this would be good, because he can have fun and relax at the same time,” Tritler said. “I would definitely recommend it [to other parents]. I think it’s great to have kids learn fitness and [have] a healthy lifestyle.”

Students are up for the challenge, Blatt said.

"The kids love it, and love the poses they can do,” she said. “When it’s something they have been working on for awhile, that’s when they shine.”