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University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center offers internationally acclaimed YogaKids program at hospital, in community

Left to right: Miriam Mandel, MD, certified YogaKids facilitator, pediatrician and former UH hospitalist; Erica Fatica, certified YogaKids facilitator and Patient Relations Coordinator, UH Ahuja Medical Center
Left to right: Miriam Mandel, MD, certified YogaKids facilitator, pediatrician and former UH hospitalist; Erica Fatica, certified YogaKids facilitator and Patient Relations Coordinator, UH Ahuja Medical Center

Weekly classes maximize wellness, focus and calm in children ages 3-14


Beachwood, Ohio – University Hospitals (UH) Ahuja Medical Center offers an ongoing series of weekly yoga sessions for young people up to age 14. YogaKids(TM), an internationally acclaimed wellness program, promotes peace, health, empowerment and education. Unlike yoga for adults, YogaKids specifically addresses the diverse needs and capabilities of children.


For the past two years, certified YogaKids facilitators Miriam Mandel, MD, and Erica Fatica have taught classes on Saturday mornings at UH Ahuja Medical Center. Each series of four classes is attended by 10 to 15 students. Their primary ages range from 5 to 11, but the program’s facilitators have worked with children as old as 14 and as young as 3.


“What we’re really teaching is healthy ways for children to center themselves and deal with stress and pressure,” says Dr. Mandel, who is also an experienced pediatrician and former UH hospitalist. “We do breathing and awareness exercises, which teach the kids that being in a state of calm and relaxation empowers us to focus and make the best choices for ourselves.” Since the program approaches yoga philosophies differently for different ages, Dr. Mandel and Erica Fatica often give their students individualized attention.


“YogaKids offers learning tools related to self-esteem and relaxation that kids can use every day in school and at home,” says Fatica, who is also Patient Relations Coordinator at UH Ahuja Medical Center. “These techniques not only help keep their bodies healthy but their minds and spirits as well, and the kids really respond to them.”


Both YogaKids facilitators view the environment at UH Ahuja Medical Center as an ideal place to offer their expertise to children and their families. “I’ve always seen UH Ahuja Medical Center as a wellness center because there is such great energy there,” says Dr. Mandel. “Our program fits perfectly with the growing outreach initiative the hospital brings to the community.”


That outreach includes an offshoot class developed by Dr. Mandel called “Empowering Young Girls Through Yoga and Wellness,” which is open to girls aged 10 to 13, as well as the YogaKids program being offered in the communities UH Ahuja Medical Center serves. “The success of YogaKids at the hospital over the last two years has inspired us to develop a program to present on location in our city’s schools,” says Susan V. Juris, President, UH Ahuja Medical Center. “It’s a positive, effective way for parents, teachers and administrators to get more involved in our students’ total wellness.”


The next series of hospital-based YogaKids classes is scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 5 at 10 a.m. at UH Ahuja Medical Center, 3999 Richmond Road in Beachwood, followed by another series beginning in early May. “Empowering Young Girls Through Yoga and Wellness” classes typically take place from 10 – 11:15 a.m. one Saturday a month. Dates and times are subject to change. Both class series are held in the hospital’s Rosenberg Conference Room.


For more information about YogaKids, visit www.yogakids.com. For details about the UH Ahuja Medical Center programs, class schedules and fees, e-mail facilitators Miriam Mandel, MD, and Erica Fatica at yogakidsatahuja@gmail.com.


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