Structured Time vs. Free Time for Play – Why Not Both?

kids playing outside

Could there possibly be any benefit in overscheduling a child’s life? Here’s how one mother defended it in a recent essay for the Washington Post: Of course, there is value in sitting in a corner reading, playing board games, climbing a tree or just daydreaming. But the reality is that in most homes, screens of Read More

Responding to 13 Reasons Why (Resources Included)

sad girl

By Lynea Gillen Across the US and Canada, schools have been warning parents about the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and its handling of teen suicide. If you’ve been following the controversy, you’re familiar with the concerns – that it glorifies suicide, that it may inspire copycats, that it may be triggering for young Read More

Practicing Gratitude This Mother’s Day (Activity Downloads Included)

mother and son

By Lynea Gillen “But you do it, too, Mommy!” There’s nothing more frustrating as a parent than to realize that a child’s troubling behavior pattern is something they learned from you! How many of us have had that hollow feeling when we expect them to “do as I say, not as I do”? It’s a Read More

Science Meets Nature


Each spring, when the flowers and leaves are coming out and nature is once again showing its beautiful resiliency, I have my RYT-200 students go on a Mindful Walk through our garden. It’s a nice break from learning yoga anatomy and yoga teaching techniques, and it fits nicely with our mindfulness training. That ancient practice Read More

4 Ways to Bring More Mindfulness to Yourself & Your Kids

mother and son

“When I had my son, I knew how I didn’t want to raise him,” a mother we know recently told us. She didn’t want to parent as she had been parented. She didn’t want to repeat the patterns of her own past. “At the same time, I didn’t know how I did want to raise Read More

How to Bring More Mindfulness into the Family: Mindful Parenting

mother and son

When a child acts out reactively, it’s the easiest thing in the world to respond just as reactively – with anger and impatience. And that response says far more than just “your behavior is upsetting, so please stop it.” It says that a big, fast, from-the-gut reaction – full of wild energy and even wilder Read More

Helping a Child Through Grief & Loss

grieving boy

Emotional loss is part of the human condition and, though painful, is part of our growth into caring, compassionate adults. Grief is the process through which we heal. Many of us grow up without learning how to grieve in healthy ways, how to let go of the pain while keeping memory close. Often, the processing Read More

How Trauma Changes the Brain, How Strength Transforms Trauma

young man with hurt expression

By Lynea Gillen It was clear that the young men in the psychiatric unit weren’t much interested in yoga. Struggling with addiction and mental health, they appeared cautious, wounded, apathetic. Lounging in their hospital scrubs, they shot us suspicious glances. “We know you’ve had challenges,” I told them. “And we know that you’re very strong Read More

Low Back Pain? Kids Can Have It, Too. And Yoga Can Help (Tips Included!)

kids playing soccer

By Jim Gillen Low back pain is pretty common. It’s the top cause of disability worldwide. Over 30 million American adults have it right now. Maybe you’re one of them. But it’s not something you normally associate with kids. The conventional wisdom is that children shouldn’t experience low back pain at all, and if they Read More

Bullying on the Rise – What Do We Do About It?


Through recent months, we’ve seen evidence of a lot more bullying going on, much of it attributed to the angry, polarizing 2016 US election. Recent research out of the University of Wisconsin seems to reinforce that impression. If we look at the 2013 data, about 12 percent of students told us that they had been Read More

Resolution: Bringing What Matters into Focus

daydreaming woman

By Jim Gillen My first yoga class of the year is always a big one – as many as 50 people squeezing into a small space, each wanting to start off the new year right. Usually, I ask my students about their “resolutions.” This year, I asked a different question: Reflecting on last year, what Read More

Yoga for the Holidays, Strengthening Family Ties

family yoga

By Lynea Gillen I recently led a yoga class for a family that has been involved in Yoga Calm for several years now. About halfway through, one of the older girls who hadn’t practiced in a while quietly said, “It’s good to be back.” Her mother smiled. Yes, it is good to be back. Back Read More

A Solution for Teacher Burnout: Yoga & Mindfulness


By Lynea Gillen If you work in the schools, you may already be counting down the days until winter break is finally here. It’s a welcome opportunity to catch your breath, relax, recharge – well, after all the holiday shopping and baking and everything else is done, though even that can feel like a respite Read More

Seeing Our Strengths, Transforming Childhood Trauma

young girl

When you’re in pain, support is essential. So is releasing sorrow and anger. But we can get trapped in these emotions, too – ruminate and recreate them in our lives, over and over and again. One way I know that the kids I counsel are getting healthier emotionally is when I see them begin to Read More

Cultivating More Positive Emotions

meditation tag

When I worked as a counselor in a behavior classroom I would meet with the students every morning. Often the students would often come in with sad or frightening things on their mind. It was difficult for them to focus on school when their minds and bodies were full of worry about a parent, or Read More

Investing in Your Emotional Bank Account

emotional bank account

The run-up to Thanksgiving can be a frantic, stressful time – preparing for guests or preparing to travel, trying to get everything done that needs doing. But once the holiday comes, it’s a welcome opportunity to relax for a few days, connect with family and friends, have fun. For a lot of folks, “fun” involves Read More

You Don’t Have to Agree with Someone to See the Goodness in Them


Several years ago, the children in the 6th grade classroom I was visiting as a school counselor started to talk about the dangers in the world and how many “bad” people there were “out there.” I asked them to tell me more. They told me about stories from the news, movies they had seen, and Read More

Plugging into Family Relationships, Not Just Devices

Anna in treehouse

“Grandpa, this is much more fun than playing on the tablet!” My 6-year old granddaughter’s observation seemed so obvious and true. We had spent the afternoon together, building a ladder for her new treehouse. We used a tape measure and her budding math skills to determine where the rungs would go. We used a saw Read More

Transforming Teachers, Revitalizing Teachers

students with teacher

One of the most gratifying things we hear from teachers who bring Yoga Calm into their classrooms is how it changes their own lives – personally and professionally – as well as their students’. They say they find it revitalizing their teaching and rekindling the fire that led them to education in the first place Read More

The Gift of Reading Aloud to Your Kids

father reading to daughter

Storytelling, as we saw a couple weeks back, can fire the imagination and open up new worlds to children. It does this whether you make up stories on the fly, as you might with a guided relaxation, or simply read to children from books. It’s the exchange between storyteller and listener that makes the magic. Read More

How to Bring Yoga & Mindfulness to Your Classroom

kids practicing mindfulness

Bringing yoga and mindfulness practices to the classroom can seem challenging – if you’re going it alone. That’s a big reason we’ve launched a series of free webinars with educators who’ve successfully integrated them into their own classrooms and others’. It’s an opportunity for you to learn best practices and get answers to your questions Read More

Imagination: A Gateway to Literacy


Stories can do a lot of things – soothe, entertain, enchant, even teach. And it’s not just the content of the story itself that teaches. It’s what stories require of us: the use of our imagination. Imagination lays the groundwork for critical social skills such as empathy. It also nurtures creativity and curiosity, opening new Read More

How Mindfulness Can Help Your Kids Thrive

mindful girl

This post was originally published on Parent Herald. It’s a big developmental step when a child begins to realize that they can control their thoughts and feelings. They begin to understand how what we think affects how we feel and what we do. This is a skill I’ve consistently aimed to nurture through my decades Read More

Body-Based Therapies for Stress, Trauma and PTSD

sunrise yoga

Since the New York Times Magazine’s feature on noted trauma researcher Bessel van der Kolk a couple years ago, somatic approaches to stress and trauma have continued to move to the fore. In a world where exposure and cognitive therapies are still thought to be best for dealing with trauma, body-based approaches can seem controversial. Read More

Join the “Yes” Generation

kids doing yoga

“No” has its merits, as we noted last week. But so does “yes.” “Yes” is an invitation to experience. One experience that continues to be embraced by more and more people is yoga. According to Yoga Alliance’s latest Yoga in America report, 36.7 million now practice it – 16.3 million more than in 2012. Eighty Read More

Join the “NO” Revolution

teaching hand

When I was a young teacher, I was given some good advice by a mentor: Start off the year firm. You can always loosen up. But if you start too loose, you will have a hard time getting the classroom under control later. It took some practice to become very precise and structured as a Read More

Creating Community in the Classroom


Great things can happen when people collaborate. We can develop dynamic solutions to seemingly intractable problems. We can uncover ingenious responses to our most pressing challenges. We can accomplish more together than any single one of us could possibly do alone. So we were excited to learn about a new 8 state collaboration to encourage Read More

Back to School Spells… STRESS! (But It Doesn’t Have To)

notebooks and pencil

You know the feeling…you’re floating along on a lazy late summer day, then suddenly hear the rumbling of rapids ahead. The frenzy and chaos that accompanies the beginning of the school year are dead ahead! But instead of just plowing bravely ahead, like every other year, this time, you make a plan that this year Read More

“I Can Do That For Myself” – Empowering Girls Through Yoga Calm

girls at playground

When I was a counselor, I used to tell the young girls about the time I got suspended from school for a week. “I got in BIG trouble,” I’d say, then ask them to guess what I did. Usually they’d guess that I had skipped school. Or had said something really mean. Or had hurt Read More

Practical Mindfulness: The Stillness Principle

Stillness Icon

When I first met nine-year-old Barton, he talked nonstop. He explained that he never cried because once when he cried at his last school, even his best friend laughed at him. I could feel the sorrow in him. And the rage. I promised him that I would never laugh at him if he cried and Read More

Teaching EQ, Not IQ

kids playing marbles

Some conversations, you never forget – like the one I once had with my brother-in-law David. “It’s really hard to find and hire good employees,” he said. And it wasn’t finding people with good work experience or smarts that was the problem. At that time, David was the CEO of Junior Achievement, a worldwide organization Read More

We Need Each Other! Tips for Developing Community, Empathy, Mindfulness

figures holding hands in circle

One day, a group of children from the behavioral classroom came into my room VERY angry. As a group, they had been bullied on the way to an assembly, and their collective rage had come busting out. A frightened educational assistant brought them into my room and asked, “Can you help?” Of course, nothing could Read More

Helping High Schoolers with Mindfulness

Peace in Schools

How do you remember your high school years? If you’re like most, your memories are mixed. Some may be beautiful. Others? Not so good. Accomplishments. Hurt. Fun times. Feeling like an outsider. Pride. Pressure. Even in best cases, teenage years are hard. And today’s high schoolers face even greater challenges. “You have to be able Read More

Creating a Culture of Movement: Fun Activities for Family Fitness

water fight

Hear that Americans tend to be physically inactive, and you wouldn’t bat an eye. Yet hearing just how much we’re not moving can be a bit of a shock. Consider the study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Measuring children’s physical activity both in and outside of school, its authors Read More

Loving Care & Community in the Classroom

teacher with students

Think back to your favorite school teacher. Elementary, middle, high school, college…doesn’t matter. Picture them. In your mind’s eye, see them in their classroom again. Remember the sound of their voice. Make the memory as vivid as you possibly can. Those teachers made us feel as though we mattered. Care is the core of these Read More

Mindfulness for Teachers

school teacher life

Ask a teacher what they think about their work. You’ll likely hear that it’s rewarding – and exhausting. For as a teacher, you’re constantly giving – your time, your knowledge, your care, your attention. You’re constantly doing for others. Add the increasing pressures from testing and other academic mandates, budget cuts, and more children than Read More

Sharing Yoga Calm in Russia (and Around the Globe!)

Irina Yalanzhi

Yoga Calm began in 2000 with one counselor in a rural Oregon elementary school – Lynea – striving to meet the needs of increasing numbers of students with extreme behavioral issues. Soon, we were teaching it to others in the Portland Metro area – a program that became formalized when we started teaching it as Read More

Kids Need Freedom and Safety – How to Balance These Rivaling Needs?

kids exploring

Recently, I visited a friend’s 120 acre farm with our granddaughter. It was a beautiful day, and it was wonderful to see Anna run around outside with so much freedom and joy. But I have to admit that her freedom stirred some worry for me. The rope swing she was playing on – was it Read More

Focusing Fun for Summer

Yoga Calm Silent Ball Game

Just because school is ending for the year doesn’t mean that learning stops. Silent Ball, included in our Online Certification Bundle, is a fun game kids can play outdoors (or in) to develop executive function skills that are critical for learning and self-control. These skills are typically underdeveloped in children with ADHD (weaknesses in impulse Read More

Learning How to Handle – and Grow from – Disappointments

mother consoling daughter

Disappointment happens. It’s how life goes. But try telling that to a child. Actually, don’t. It’s dismissive. It says, “Your feelings don’t matter.” And when you’re a kid, those feelings can feel very big. End-of-the-worldish. Challenging. More often, we’re tempted to shield the child – to protect them from any disappointment at all, whether it’s Read More

Help Your Kids Make the Shift from Sedentary to Active

kids exploring outdoors

You’ve probably seen more than one of those social media posts that compares childhood in the 1970s to childhood today – listicles like this one. And this. Most seem to focus on the apparent lack of concern for safety – why kids of the 70s “should all be dead,” as the typical title puts it Read More

How Do You Manage Screen Time When Media Has Become “Just Another Environment”?

young girl with tablet

“Five…four…three…” …swipe, tap, tap, swipe, swipe, tap… “…two…one!” The countdown – that old parental standby to garner compliance – was no longer working with our granddaughter Anna, smitten with our iPad and the wonders it can produce. We had set a strict time limit of 10 minutes per session, but clearly the ABCmouse app was much Read More

How Political Rhetoric Affects Our Kids – and What We Can Do About It

The Trump Effect

A scene from the Republican debate in Detroit earlier this year: The debate quickly devolved into the shouting over each other that has marked many pointed exchanges. At one point, trying to get Mr. Trump to stop talking, Mr. Cruz repeated instructions: “Breathe. Breathe.” Mr. Rubio saw a chance to jump in, asking if he Read More

Yoga Calm Flashback – Native American Mindfulness: Reciprocity

Native American basket

As we approach Earth Day 2016, we find our thoughts going back to this previous post on recognizing and affirming our connectedness with the natural world, which we’ve updated slightly for the occasion… Several years back, a writer for one of our local papers complained about school teachers getting graduate credit to teach yoga to Read More

Coming to our Senses… – Mindfulness Practices in Education

sensory perception

Sensation perception – tapping into our immediate bodily awareness – is at the heart of all yoga and mindfulness practices. It’s also a major research interest of Dr. Robert W. Roeser, a professor of psychology and human development at Portland State University. He’s also a research fellow at the Mind and Life Institute and on the Read More

“Grit” Is Great – But Kids Need More

holding a child's hand

The good news: More educators than ever are understanding that “content knowledge” alone isn’t enough for student success. “Now, in addition to teaching students fractions and conjunctions, many educators are increasingly grappling with how to address social and emotional skills like collaboration and students’ sense of belonging—trends that are even making their way into nationwide Read More

Out on a Limb… Inspiring Environmental Stewardship


Two hundred feet up in a tree. The winds were blowing so hard, she felt she would surely meet her demise, but Julia Butterfly Hill finally relaxed her tight grip on the tree she had named Luna so that she could move with its swaying. She had lived in that tree for over two years Read More

8 Solutions for Navigating Conflict, Setting Boundaries, & Maintaining Calm

father talking to daughter

When a child’s emotions get big, our own emotions can swell up, too. Our stress response kicks in, overriding our own “upstairs brain” – the logical, controlling part. When a child is upset, they rely on a parent or other caregiving adult to guide them through the emotion. If the adult gets upset, it only Read More

4 Tools to Help Kids Manage Big Emotions

girl throwing tantrum

One afternoon in my counseling office, I was working with two boys. I told them if they played quietly while I spoke with their mother, they would each be able to choose something from the treasure box at the end of the session. They were terrific. So, as promised, I invited each to choose a Read More

Lean on Me: Tips for Teaching Friendship Skills to Kids


Ask a kid what it takes to make a good friendship, and they can tell you: But that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to make friends, how to translate their head knowledge into action. Though you see kids make friendships very quickly in their earliest years, by the time they reach elementary school age, Read More

Learning Through Action: The Importance of Teaching Skills to Kids Struggling with ADHD (& Other Behavioral Disorders)

classroom yoga

When I first began working as a school counselor, I sometimes got frustrated with children who didn’t seem to apply the social/emotional lessons I taught them. “Why don’t they get it?” I asked my colleague Anne Bagwell, a counselor and an amazing mentor. “I explain things in a way they can understand. They nod like Read More

A Different Kind of Test Prep: Yoga Calm Before Standardized Testing

standardized test

Another year, another testing season…though now with some welcome (if long-overdue) gestures toward “right-sizing” testing, most notably the Every Student Succeeds Act. This legislation, wrote Laura Moser earlier this month on Slate, seriously dialed back the emphasis on testing-or-die that was a hallmark of No Child Left Behind. Standardized testing isn’t going anywhere, but the Read More

Bringing Mindfulness to the Classroom

Mindful Kids

There’s a simple reason you keep seeing more schools establishing mindfulness programs: They work. As Kim Rempel summed up in her 2012 review of the literature, The potential benefits of integrating mindfulness-based training into school settings are significant in regards to effects on cognitive, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual domains. Research reviewed here suggests that mindfulness-based Read More

“Sing, Sing a Song…” The Power of Music’s Message

young girl singing and playing piano

One day when our granddaughter Anna was feeling sick with a cold, she sang a little song that went like this. “When you’re sick, rest is best, rest is best.” She told us that if she rested, she would get well faster. Then came other songs – one about being a big help in your Read More

School-Wide Yoga Calm: Breathing Together, Starting the Day Right

Breathing Sphere

We love hearing from people about how they’re using Yoga Calm with kids and the difference is makes! Most recently, we heard from Cynthia Wilson, a counselor at Fair Oaks Elementary in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, north of the Twin Cities. Last fall, the whole school did a comprehensive training: staff training followed by a Residency Read More

“I Want It Now!” Strategies for Dealing with the Overindulged Child

little girl with attitude

Overindulged. Demanding. Ungrateful. Is there anyone who doesn’t feel a relieved sort of happiness and justice served when Veruca Salt goes down the chute? That’s the unfortunate outcome of an overindulged child: Others don’t like them. They alienate other people and don’t know why. They’ve been allowed to develop habits that are socially unacceptable, even Read More

Brain Hacks: Suggestions from Neuroscience on How to Make Good on Your Resolutions


Did you make any resolutions for the new year? How are you doing with them? The hard truth is that despite every good intention, most of us fail to make good on the promises we make to ourselves at the turning of the year. Some statistics suggest that, over the long term, fewer than 10% Read More

Sharing Dreams Can Change the World

tree circle

When we started Yoga Calm, we had no idea how it would grow. We had a dream and we shared our ideas with a small group of enthusiastic school counselors at a local conference. Their excitement and support motivated us to share with many others – not just counselors but teachers, nurses, parents and more. Read More

Tech Toys Are Fun, but Do They Really Help Learning? (Maybe Not)

baby with toy tablet

For a lot of kids this past holiday season, at least one – and maybe many – of the gifts they opened were tech toys of one kind or another. Older kids may have received things like video games, tablets, wearables, or countless other gadgets (even – for better or worse – a drone of Read More

Got Sleep? It’s Just the Thing Our Brains Need

glymphatic system

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, indeed – especially for teachers and students. For it’s not just the presents and fabulous feasts and festive family gatherings; not just the sparkly lights, glitter and shimmer and all the rest. It’s a welcome opportunity to catch up on sleep. That sleep can feel like an Read More

Skilled, Safe and Free Range Children

kids walking to school

Those of us old enough to remember the original Mickey Mouse Club can recall that while Jiminy Cricket warned us about a whole lot of things – “I’m No Fool, no siree!” – “stranger danger” was never one of them. My, how things have changed! “Why Won’t You Let Your Son Walk to School?” Recently, Read More

Successfully Bringing Yoga into Your School

Best Practices Book Cover

When Lynea and I first developed our Yoga Calm program at her elementary school in the year 2000, we had no idea that we were going to be part of such a large movement. We were just responding to student needs with the skills and tools we had on hand. Fast forward 15 years, and Read More

Practical Mindfulness: Gratitude


When people talk about mindfulness, you often hear them talk about gratitude, too. After all, you can’t really practice gratitude without it. For gratitude is more than just saying “thanks.” It’s recognizing what we value about an action or person or thing, and how we are enriched by the experience. It’s an act of honoring Read More

Re-connecting the “Me-Me-Me Generation”

children talking

Were you, too, a little disconcerted to see Christmas swag going up well before Halloween this year? Yet that makes it even a little cooler to see more major retailers stepping up to say, “No, we’re not opening early for Black Friday. We’re staying closed all Thanksgiving so our employees can celebrate the day with Read More

Working Together – Making Our Dreams Come True

front-cover Thumbnail 224px

Writing books has always been a dream for Yoga Calm founder, Lynea Gillen. But it hasn’t always been an easy path. Her first children’s book, Good People Everywhere, was panned by her writing group, because it didn’t fit the typical children’s book model. “Their feedback was so harsh that I put the book aside for years and Read More

A New Vision for Healing: Yoga as Complementary Therapy

Childrens Hospital

For parents and children struggling with mental health and behavioral issues, the stress of life can be overwhelming. Often the clients come from families with unresolved grief and trauma. The professionals working in the field need tools that are simple and effective, help resolve the grief and trauma, and address the needs of the whole Read More

Kids, Autonomy & the Need for Unstructured – Even “Risky” – Play

boy walking outdoors

How much freedom a child is given is largely a matter of perceived risk. It’s the case with traditional societies. It’s the case with our own. But what happens when our risk assessment doesn’t really match reality? Our Media-Fueled Fear It’s easy to believe that the world is a scary, threatening place. Two-thirds of all Read More

So “Close”, yet So “Far”Away… : The Impact of Tech on Kid’s Empathy

boy with smartphone

In a recent New York Times article, Professor Sherry Turkle offered a stark example of how lack of empathy can play out in a school setting: A few years ago, a private middle school asked me to consult with its faculty: Students were not developing friendships the way they used to. At a retreat, the Read More

Practical Mindfulness: Natural Breath Inquiry

teacher Student

We often receive emails and phone calls from teachers and counselors asking us, “How do I bring the benefits of yoga and mindfulness to the youth I serve?” The answer is simple, but not always easy to do: Start with yourself. As educators and counselors we know that the most important factor in our success Read More

Practical Mindfulness: Take 3 Breaths…

Mindful Kids

Transitions are an important time. Starting the school day, shifting from work mode to having a family meal, preparing for sleep are all key times to shift our attention. They are also the perfect opportunity to develop your mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is all the buzz in education, therapy and even professional sports these days. Every Read More

Back-to-School: Build Community First – Free Lesson Plan & Video Included!

first day of kindergarten

With so much to do at the beginning of the school year and so much going on, it’s easy for school staff to get distracted with all the administrative details, exigencies and logistics of just getting classrooms together. But experienced teachers and counselors know that their first task is to build classroom community – to Read More

Keep those Kids Moving… into the Fall School Year

children in classroom

We’ve looked before at the relationship between physical activity and cognitive skills. The short version, as brain scientist John Medina has noted, is that our brains developed to work best while we’re moving in an outdoor environment. This is one of the reasons why, for instance, teachers typically report that their students’ grades go up Read More

Summer Camp: Teaching with Nature (with Sample Curriculum & Activity!)

child in nature

We love Yoga Calm Summer Camp week, which just wrapped up here at our studio in Portland. There’s just nothing quite like kids and summer – nature explorations, playing with friends, lots of physical activity, healthy fruits and vegetables from the back garden, and daydreaming in the outdoors! And of course there’s lots of learning Read More

Coming Together in Our Care for Children: 2015 Summer Intensive Highlights

participants at Yoga Calm 2015 Summer Intensive

Our annual Summer Intensive – a training that encompasses our three basic Yoga Calm curriculum courses – is our favorite of the year. Not only do we get to spend time at relaxing studios and beautiful retreats such as Still Meadow here in Oregon; we get to meet and share our life’s work with amazing Read More

Meet Our Youngest Certified Youth Instructor, Aderyn McLean

Kelly and Aderyn McLean

When Kelly McLean was diagnosed five years ago with ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune form of arthritis, she followed her doctor’s recommendation and took up yoga. It helped her so much that she decided to become a yoga instructor and eventually earned her certification. This made a big impression on her 8 year old daughter Aderyn Read More

Receiving Your Students’ Gratitude – and Recognizing All the Good Work You Do

child's I love yoga drawing

There’s nothing sweeter than a heartfelt thank you note written by a child. As teachers and counselors, we’re often so caught up in the day-to-day rush to educate and help our students, we don’t have time to recognize the impact of the good work we’re doing. While we teach children the importance of showing gratitude, Read More

Native American Mindfulness: All My Relations

Leslie Gray

“I’ve noticed that many people say that everything is connected,” said psychologist Leslie Gray at a recent workshop on Shamanic Counseling – a method of adapting indigenous healing practices to modern urban circumstances in an effective and vital way. “But they don’t live like we’re connected.” Ever since she said this in a recent workshop, Read More

Teaching Yoga to Preschoolers: What Works Best?


It was like magic. In a room crowded with more than 100 families, music blaring, pizza and popcorn booths scattered throughout, invariably, the kids would find us at the 50th anniversary celebration of Portland’s Head Start program. Our booth was simple, unadorned, but on our table was a Hoberman sphere. The kids were drawn to Read More

Exercise and the Brain: How Fitness Improves Academic Performance

Yoga Calm Chair 15 Flow

Guest post by kids’ yoga teacher Colleen Cash We all know it’s important for kids to move. Dozens of noncommunicable diseases, from heart disease to diabetes, are caused by inactivity, and lifelong activity patterns are often set by childhood habits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled Read More

TV, Teens and Trauma: 5 Tips for Taking Control

teen glued to monitor

Though this year’s Screen Free Week is now a fading memory, the reason for such events persists  It’s tough to unplug from our electronic entertainment, isn’t it? Though Lynea and I watch less TV than the average American, even we “had” to watch American Idol, followed by the evening news. The contrast of our experience Read More

Social Skills Trump Technology

young girls with iPad

It’s easy – and tempting! – to think that technology can solve all of our problems and challenges. But some fascinating research to be presented at this month’s Annual Conference of the International Communication Association provides a good reminder that tech alone isn’t enough. The study was beautifully simple, conducted among kindergarteners in Midwestern elementary Read More

Just 5 Deep Breaths: How Yoga Can Help Kids (and You!) Shift from the Stress Response to the Rest Response

teachers with Hoberman spheres

Guest post by kids’ yoga teacher Colleen Cash Picture this: You’re zipping down the road, singing along with your favorite tune, when a car cuts you off. In that split second, how does your body respond? Most drivers would be able to identify the breath response: A quick, sharp inhale. Others – experienced yogis, for Read More

Yoga & Exercise as Medicine

Yoga for medical

It looks like schools aren’t the only place where exercise is getting the short shrift these days. According to new research out of Oregon State University, it’s largely absent from the medical school curriculum, too. Just over half of US medical schools offer no courses on physical activity at all. Another 21% offer only one Read More

Native American Mindfulness: Reciprocity

plant in child's hands

Several years back, a writer for one of our local papers complained about school teachers getting graduate credit to teach yoga to their students. These courses, she mocked, should be listed in the Education Department catalog next to basket weaving. My thought? “Please do. I’d be honored to have our course listed next to this Read More

Exercising the Body = Exercising the Brain

Yoga Calm brain based learning

Can you imagine a school where kids show up dressed for PE? Where physical exercise is just as important as academics – and academic scores go up as a result? That’s the ideal world brain scientist John Medina described to the 3000 plus gathered for the kick-off session at last week’s SHAPE conference in Seattle. Read More

Teaching Yoga to Kids: Why the Teacher’s Emotions Matter


One concept we talk about quite a bit in our Yoga Calm trainings is the power of modeling behavior – whether it’s the teacher’s modeling for the students or students modeling for each other. It’s one reason why mindfulness is such a critical skill to cultivate in ourselves, as well as our students. The more Read More

Let’s Move…for Health, Behavior & Academics

Boy with tongue out

The report from our good friend’s preschool was disturbing. Naptime was creating behavior problems for her daughter, and the school was now considering sending her home each afternoon. We knew she wasn’t much of a napper, but after some additional sleuthing, we found something that could be making naptime an even bigger challenge. Her school Read More

Mindfulness Making a Difference

Yoga on Beach with Jim small

As Lynea and I savor our experiences at last weekend’s mindfulness and compassion conference in San Diego, we can’t help but be amazed about how much this movement has grown in the last 15 years since we first started offering Yoga Calm in the public schools. And while we are constantly reminded that the challenges Read More

Yoga Calm At Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference, San Diego


We’ve just arrived in San Diego for our return visit to this amazing conference, where educators. clinicians, researchers and administrators from around the country come together to share ideas, inspiration and knowledge of using mindfulness and compassion to help young people successfully face the challenges facing them today. Yoga Calm’s Lynea Gillen and Kathy Flamino Read More

Yoga Hits the Super Bowl: 5 Tips for Teaching Boys

meditating boy

Mrs. Gillen, if everyone did yoga, the world would be pink! This comment from an 11-year-old boy was typical of those Lynea heard from the boys in her elementary school’s behavior classroom when she first brought in yoga 15 years ago. And considering the dominant media image of the thin, white, blonde, young, flexible woman Read More

A Somatic Approach Toward a Bully-Free Future

boy looking down

Research shows that children who are bullied often carry a posture and a story of victimization. Trauma, low self-esteem, learning disabilities and obesity also can set up a child for ridicule and rejection. As we’ve noted before, such children begin to walk and talk in a victimized way. They begin to form a story of Read More

High-Stakes Tests, Kids’ Soaring Stress – and a Lesson Plan for Creating Calm & Focus Instead

stressed boy

Not even two weeks into the new year, and already, testing season is underway in many school districts around the country. And so is the backlash against standardized testing, which – according to a recent Marketplace feature on NPR – is only expected to keep on keeping on. Now, complaints about standardized testing are nothing Read More

A Nation of the Sleep-Deprived – & How to Turn Things Around

sleeping bear

“It’s time to get up and make pancakes, Grandpa!” It was 5:30 in the morning. Still, I thought it might be good to get up a little earlier than usual for my four year old granddaughter’s and my favorite ritual – though neither of us had got much sleep the night before. She’d had a Read More

Bullying & the Language of the Body

kids pretending to be superheroes

A wonderful anecdote from senior yoga teacher Patricia Walden recently caught my eye in a post at Yoga Journal. She recalled a statement BKS Iyengar made to her when she struggled with depression: “If you open your armpits, you’ll never get depressed.” She was in her early 20s then. She never forgot that statement. “Of Read More

Bones! (And 3 Tips to Help Your Kids Develop Healthy Ones)

Jim Gillen with skeleton

One concept we explored a lot in our recent Yoga for Seniors courses is how yoga can improve bone health. That’s because exercise strengthens not only muscles but bones. A regular, properly designed program may in fact help prevent the falls and fall-related fractures that so often result in disability and early death. For exercise Read More

9 Tips for Helping Kids Deal with Events Like the Troutdale School Shooting


Within a day of last week’s shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale – just outside of Portland here and where some of Lynea’s colleagues work – several particular posts about it began cropping up on Facebook a lot. One was especially sad and sobering: Though subsequent coverage has challenged that glaring number of 74, Read More

Less Screen-Time = Healthier Kids & More Family Fun!

dad and son on trampoline

You hear a lot about the problems that come from kids spending too much time fixated on screens – obesity, poor and insufficient sleep, behavioral issues and all the rest. What you don’t hear so much is evidence of the benefits from guiding kids’ interactions with technology and media. Enter a study recently published in Read More

Helping Kids with Attention Issues: We Can Do Better – Tips & Resources


Judge by rising rates of ADHD diagnoses and medication prescriptions (quintupling over the past 12 years), it would seem that we’ve really got a national epidemic at hand. Or do we? A recent New York Times article reveals some disturbing news: The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with Read More

4 Tips for Implementing Yoga Calm in Your School

Class Up Mtn

by Lynn Hernandez, school principal and Certified Yoga Calm Youth Instructor After attending Yoga Calm training last February I was so excited about the possibilities at my school for both students and staff.  I knew that these mindful movement activities would help students develop self-confidence, self-regulation strategies and positive social and emotional skills. I was Read More

What Is Your Call of Duty?


What’s going on with our boys? These days, I’m asked this question a lot by parents and teachers alike. This school year alone, I have done more staff trainings and have been asked to observe and assist teachers more than ever before with respect to boys’ behavior issues. Hyperactivity, aggressive behavior, obsession with video games, Read More

Things That Go Bang!


At our recent Boys & Coyotes Course in Minneapolis, I asked a group of therapists, teachers and other educational professionals, “What do you know about boys?” Some of their answers: They are active. They like to play superheroes. They make exploding noises. They act first, then think. Their love is very strong. They like to Read More

The Emerging Field of Contemplative Science & How It Can Help Us Help Kids Thrive


It seems “mindfulness” has hit the big time. A simple news search of the term in Google typically brings up several thousand results. It seems everybody’s talking about it. One reason why is just our search for solutions to the increasing pressure and uncertainty we feel subjected to, children and adults alike. But there’s also Read More

How Stories & Storytelling Make for Healthier, Happier, More Resilient Kids


Once upon a time… There’s good reason why these four simple words almost instantly capture our interest. As if by magic, they may transport us back to childhood and the fairy tales read to us by our parents or earliest school teachers. They also hit an even more primal note in us. For thousands of Read More

Honoring our Children, Honoring Ourselves, Honoring our Elders


A guest post by Kimberly Carson, co-instructor for our new Yoga for Seniors Certification program. Growing a beautiful, productive garden is more complex than just supplying water, appropriate sunlight and good soil. Among other things, you must consider the effects of neighboring plants. Helping children grow is similarly complex. As teachers, counselors and therapists are Read More

Take a Stand for Children’s Health…Literally!


At first glance, it’s a hard statistic to believe – that by the time they reach high school, 63% of kids are no longer physically active. But consider some of the barriers that either didn’t exist or were much less common for children just one or two generations ago: Perpetual distraction by a screen and Read More

The Children You Save


A few years ago, after hearing news of another mass shooting, I sat with the principal of the rural elementary school where I worked as a counselor, feeling sad and discouraged. Then he said something I’ve never forgotten: “The children you save never make the headlines.” His compassionate eyes helped me know his words were Read More

New Hope for Dealing with Tension & Trauma, Part 2

Dr. David Berceli

Read Part One Words Are Not Enough: Yoga & Meditation As we discussed last time, recovery from trauma is both a mental/emotional process and a physical process. Key to the latter is deactivating the somatic cues that trigger the troubling emotions and autonomic memories. In fact, this is something experienced by the millions who have Read More

New Hope for Dealing with Tension & Trauma


Have you ever been so nervous or scared, your body was literally shaking? That shaking is called neurogenic tremoring – an innate release system that nearly all mammals are born with and seems to be a key component in how they handle stress. Yes, just as our bodies have things like the immune system to Read More

Schools, Yoga & the Religion Issue


What began as a local story of a few California parents objecting to classroom yoga has, over the past couple weeks, ballooned into one of national interest, garnering mainstream media coverage. According to the original North County Times article about the dissent, the parents and a lawyer voiced concerns to Encinitas Union School District trustees Read More

Focus Behind the Razor Wire (Yoga Calm Goes to Jail, Part 3)


A guest post by Certified Yoga Calm Instructor Jeff Albin Part 1     Part 2 The detention officer bursts through the conference room door at exactly the same time the voice of CONTROL blares over the intercom: “MR ALBIN WHAT ARE YOU THROWING AT THE RESIDENTS?” The inflatable koosh ball rolls to a stop at the feet Read More

What to Tell Your Child About the Colorado Theater Shooting?


What do you tell a child when a horrific event like the Colorado theater shooting happens? Many parents are asking, just as the host of AM Northwest asked Lynea during her recent appearance on the program. (You can watch the full interview here.) Helping soothe children in troubling times was one of the main motivations Read More

Not Your Mother’s Yoga Class (Yoga Calm Goes to Jail, Part 2)


A guest post by Certified Yoga Calm Instructor Jeff Albin – Read Part 1 here The sounds of Foghat’s “Slow Ride” echoing through the claustrophobic halls at the detention center would be the first clue that this is not your mother’s yoga class. There are no gleaming bamboo floors or airy windows. No statues of Read More

Yoga Calm for “The Medication Generation”


Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to have their truth acknowledged. Maybe this is why one of the biggest frustrations we deal with growing up is the sense of not being heard – or even having a voice. Sometimes when children are referred for psychiatric medication, they resist. They don’t want to be seen Read More

Who’s Raising Our Kids? 10 Tips for Parenting in an Online World


Let me tell you a story… Storytelling is the most ancient of all teaching techniques. Embedding knowledge and empathy in narrative, its the way we make sense of our lives. And it’s not just through movies, books, plays and other fictions. Journalists often use anecdotes to kick off their factual stories and grab reader interest. Read More

Nurturing Our Natural Love of the Earth


Springtime again! And who can resist the call of the sun, leafing trees, beautifully blooming flowers? Our response is deep-seated. Rooted in our genetics is a love for nature, for the beauty of natural settings. It came early this year, too, with record high temperatures across the country. In Denver, in March, we walked about Read More

Yoga Calm Goes to Jail


A guest post by Certified Yoga Calm Instructor Jeff Albin Deputies and probation officers have been driving through the gates of Norcor (Northern Oregon Corrections) for over 10 years now. For them, it is an old routine. Nothing new greets the eye as they press the button alerting Adult Control to open the razor wire Read More

Standardized Testing Can’t Measure What Matters

standardized test

Quick: What’s the difference between No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top? Not much. As Diane Ravitch notes in a powerful and insightful essay in the New York Review of Books, both are part of what Pasi Sahlberg calls “the Global Education Reform Movement,” or GERM. GERM demands teaching to the test. GERM Read More

The Happiness Contagion


Pay it Backward Have you ever had a stranger help you from out of the blue? Our good friend Don was recently thinking about the quality of empathy and what it would be like to receive such a random act of kindness. So on his way to work one day, while ordering coffee at a Read More

How to Treat ADHD Effectively? Pills, Skills & Love


Joseph, a five year old boy diagnosed with ADHD, was making good progress in yoga class at school. He was coming to friendship group once a week, and his mom and dad were working with me [Lynea] on parenting skills. For Joseph, change came slowly but consistently. He had learned how to catch himself when Read More

Where Physical Yoga & Principles Meet


One of the most indelible and defining moments in my training to become a yoga teacher began with a loud POP! At first, I thought it was my classmate’s back adjusting as our instructor led her into an advanced pose, but the look on her face said, “This is serious.” Maybe she was predisposed to Read More

Resolutions vs. Gratitude


My first yoga class of the year is always a big one – as many as 50 people squeezing into a small space, each wanting to start off the new year right. And usually, I ask my students about their “resolutions.” This year, though, was a bit unusual – not only for them but me. Read More

Technology Alone Is Not Enough: Creativity, Vision & a Whole Child Approach to Education


Recently, Lynea and I were asked to speak at a conference about technology’s impact on education. Immediately, my thoughts turned to what we feel is one of the greatest challenges facing us as educators and parents: the addictive nature of electronic media and its associated health and social effects. For what we’ve found is that Read More

Brain-Based Learning: Developing Empathy & Compassion


Four times a year, Lynea and I conduct our Certification Workshops. They’re among our favorite events. We love seeing how practitioners creatively apply Yoga Calm activities as they share the 5 class plans they create as part of the certification process! Each of these class plans is based on a Yoga Calm principle and tailored Read More

Taking Care of Holiday Stress


It’s that time of year again. Despite nature’s call to slow down and hibernate, we tend to speed up and do more. Holiday commitments, family travels, the end of school terms and corporate years, shopping, family expectations and dynamics – it all adds up to a lot of extra stress! Not that we’re unfamiliar with Read More

Working with Yoga-Resistant Teens? Try These 7 Tips to “Meet Them Where They Are”


When it comes to sharing yoga, teens can be the toughest audience of all. They may be invested in coolness, not wanting to show too much interest in anything they don’t discover on their own or that’s dissed by peers they look up to. Some may resist yoga as too trendy or touchy-feely. Some may Read More

9 Ways to Teach & Nurture Focus for Kids with ADHD


As we mentioned last time, the line between “normal” and behavior that signals ADHD can seem fuzzy at times. ADHD is marked by a weakness in the ability to sustain, shift or divide attention, coupled with a biologically-based weakness in the ability to control impulses. One aspect or the other – hyperactivity or attention – Read More

Boys Will Be Boys? Telling the Difference Between “Normal” & ADHD Behavior


We all know that ADHD is rampant – but just how much is “rampant,” exactly? As they say on Marketplace, “Let’s do the numbers.” As of 2007, almost 10% of children between the ages of 4 and 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their young lives. Most of them were boys, Read More

“Strategies That Really Work!” – Yoga Calm in the Classroom & for Kids with Special Needs


First time isn’t always a charm, but failures often bring blessings in their wake. For instance, the first time we offered a training in Colorado, low enrollment forced us to cancel. But one who had registered offered to help us try again. An occupational therapist (OT) in the Littleton Public Schools, Ilga Paul helped make Read More

Yoga Calm Goes Global: Teachers Bring Lessons of Strength & Community to Guatemala


Guest post by Kathy Flaminio & Laurie Ellis-Young It was serendipity – our meeting at a Health Expo: two yoga teachers who shared a passion for wellness, peace and human connection, and a vision for expanding that passion to a global audience. Having lived in Guatemala, Laurie suggested connecting with a local school in Santa Read More

Childhood Obesity – Sleeping May Prevent Pounds


Sleep serves important biological functions, giving the body time and opportunity for a host of metabolic processes that just can’t be done while we’re conscious and actively using our bodies and minds. It also serves important cognitive processes, such as solidifying memories and strengthening the brain for learning. Infants even learn while they sleep, as Read More

Nurturing Love for the Natural World


The average American child now spends over 8 hours in front of a screen each day. She emails, texts, and updates her status incessantly. He can name hundreds of corporate logos, but less than ten native plants. She aspires to have hundreds of online friends, most she may never meet in person. He masters complicated Read More

Adaptations: Yoga Calm for Children Who Have Been Abused & Neglected


Guest post by Laurie Schlosser, MA, LP More than 1.25 million children in the US – 1 in every 58 – were abused or neglected in 2006, the most recent year for which data (PDF) is available. Those of us who work in schools, outpatient clinics, day treatment and residential treatment centers often see the Read More

Adaptations: Yoga Calm for Children on the Autism Spectrum

boys in warrior 1 pose

From the time we began to formalize and integrate the activities that became Yoga Calm, it was important to us to keep the program flexible and adaptable. We wanted to create something that could meet the needs of all students yet be tailored to those of specific populations. After all, while kids diagnosed with ADHD Read More

Community Matters: Yoga Calm Summer Intensives & at ASCA Seattle


It’s a little astonishing, how quickly a year passes! Yet here we are, Lynea and I, getting ready for our annual Summer Intensive at beautiful Still Meadow Retreat in Damascus, Oregon – the first of two Intensives we’re offering this summer. (The second will be held in Wisconsin this August.) These workshops, combining all three Read More

Natural vs. Virtual Worlds


“Serendipity” – the idea of the happy or fortuitous accident – is a wonderful word, inspired by a Persian fairy tale in which three princes from Serendip (the old name for Ceylon, now Sri Lanka) who “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.” It’s also a Read More

Win a Free Copy of Yoga Calm’s Kids Teach Yoga: Flying Eagle! (Yoga In My School Giveaway)


We’ve long admired Donna Freeman’s work through her site Yoga In My School – an ever-growing compendium of information and resources on yoga for the classroom. So suffice it to say, we were honored by her review of the debut DVD in our Kids Teach Yoga series, Flying Eagle: I absolutely love that the entire Read More

Improving Early Literacy – Yoga Calm Helps!


  Earlier this spring, we told you about an exciting new study showing the benefits of social-emotional learning programs like Yoga Calm on academic achievement. The very day we posted it, we got an email from Wendy Holley-Boen, a school psychologist here in Oregon who began using Yoga Calm with students late last year and Read More

“But I Don’t Wanna!” Tips for Working with Resistant Students


The benefits of yoga poses aren’t always apparent to kids. In fact, the poses can sometimes cause frustration, for in asking students to work at holding poses, we’re asking them to start being present in their bodies and to push past boredom and impatience. Hearing children complain, some teachers and parents can’t see beyond those Read More

Boys, Coyotes & Other Wild Creatures


When we announced our latest pilot workshop – Boys, Coyotes & Other Wild Creatures: Healthy Alternatives for Harnessing “Wildness” – we figured there would be a lot of interest, but nothing like the outpouring of enthusiasm we’ve received. Scheduled for May 14 – 15 in Portland, Oregon, this workshop will explore the importance of movement Read More

Yoga Calm’s Kids Teach Yoga: Flying Eagle Wins Mom’s Choice Award Gold


Kids love to follow other kids. This was the inspiration for our first DVD for children, Kids Teach Yoga: Flying Eagle, which earlier this month won the Mom’s Choice Award® Gold in Home and Mobile Viewing Category. It’s an honor we’re extremely proud of, for the Mom’s Choice Awards are known for establishing the benchmark Read More

Social-Emotional Learning Boosts Academic Achievement


Since we started Yoga Calm in 2000, an impressive body of research has been published on the positive impact of yoga and social-emotional learning on academic performance. It supports what we’ve seen in practice and what we’ve heard from hundreds of educators, counselors, parents and others. “My students are staying on task much more consistently,” Read More

What Else Is Going on in Wisconsin? Plenty!

Genesee Lake School

With all the political turmoil in Wisconsin these days, it can be easy to overlook what else is happening there, such as the good work being done at the Genesee Lake School, recently featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The school was developed to meet the needs of young people dually diagnosed with emotional and Read More

Yoga Calm Instructor Named MNAHPERD Middle School Teacher of the Year


We were thrilled to get the news last fall that one of our Certified Yoga Calm Instructors, Rochelle Gladu Patten, MEd, had been named Minnesota Middle School Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (MNAHPERD). A Physical Education Specialist at Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Minneapolis, Read More

Why Kids Love to Lead Yoga

Eagle Circle

Learning to lead and follow are important life skills. Learning to balance leading and following are essential in relationships. (Who hasn’t known a person who negatively affects relationships because of their need to always be in charge or someone so passive, they never take the lead?) Thus, an essential part of our Yoga Calm classes Read More

Mindfulness to Put an End to Bullying

bully free zone

When principals, teachers and parents are asked about their greatest concerns for children, the need for emotional and physical safety tops the list. All parents want their child to be liked and treated well by others. Concerns about safety and overall school environment are the top reason parents give for choosing to take their kids Read More

What Are We Asking When We Ask Kids to Pay Attention?


Picture a typical first grade classroom and two students whispering to each other even as the teacher begins the lesson. Seeing their distraction, the teacher calls out their names and says, “Please, pay attention!” What the teacher is asking the students to do, of course, is to focus forward, watch and listen. But the children Read More

Child Health Week 2010: Reaffirming Commitment to Kids


Those of you who have known us or the program for a while know that Yoga Calm was born out of real world, classroom need. At the time – right around the turn of the millennium – Lynea was working as a counselor in a rural Oregon elementary school, where, as we write in Yoga Read More

On Nurturing Mindfulness

boys in warrior 1 pose

“Habit is one of the antidotes to inattention,” says ADHD expert Dr. Jeff Sosne, one of our featured presenters at our inaugural Children’s Wellness Conference earlier this year. In the clip below, Dr. Sosne gives some tips for creating habit and countering what he describes as the “toxic factors that erode a child’s attention.” His Read More

Yoga Calm Goes Green(er)


Did you know that the heating and cooling of our buildings creates more greenhouse gas emissions than our cars and all transportation? That’s why earlier this year, we replaced our home furnace and also “earth conditioned” our yoga studio, which is able to be cooled or heated from the earth by a high efficiency geothermal heat pump. Read More

Creating a Positive Class Routine for the New School Year


  A new school year begins. As the children file in, they are happy to see their friends again, have many stories of summer and are ready to embrace a new teacher. Those of us who are teachers and counselors begin to assess our students and think of all the goals we have for them Read More

7 Tips for Heading Back to School with Confidence


This week, we’re pleased to feature a guest post by Donna Freeman, yoga instructor, author and founder of With the new school year already underway for some and on the verge of beginning for others, Donna offers some terrific tips for making a positive return to school, which older kids can follow on their Read More

A Better-for-You Sweet Treat: Still Meadow Chocolate Cake

cake fork

Last month, we shared some of the highlights from this year’s Yoga Calm Summer Intensive, which included our rave review of the food provided by Kristin and Thomas at Still Meadow Retreat. And we promised to share one of our favorite treats from this year’s menu, Thomas’s low-gluten chocolate cake. For not only is it Read More

Still Thinking of Still Meadow…and This Summer’s Yoga Calm Intensive


The week of our Summer Intensive – an annual event encompassing all three of our basic Yoga Calm curriculum courses – is our favorite week of the year. Not only to we get to spend time at the beautiful Still Meadow Retreat, but we get to meet and share our life’s work with interesting people Read More

Tips to Help Kids Make Healthy Food Choices in a Junk Food Filled Environment

kids eating

cproppe/Flickr One of the biggest and most persistent obstacles to kids’ making healthy food choices is the heavy marketing of highly processed, usually sugar-laden junk food. It’s not just about outright advertising such as commercials on TV – though there’s plenty to complain about there – but also things like product placements in video games Read More

A Healthy Summer Treat


There are a few times each year when we’re more apt than usual to indulge in delicious but not always healthy foods. Thanksgiving. Christmas. And summertime? You bet! Think of burgers, hot dogs and corn dogs at a theme park, ballpark or beach boardwalk. Think of the deep-fried everything that’s fair food. Fourth of July Read More

Yoga Calm for Pre-K & Other Sessions Added to Children’s Wellness Conference

mt hood

Yoga Calm’s inaugural Children’s Wellness starts just a few weeks from now. This annual two day event features presentations, discussion panels and expert guest speakers on a variety of children’s health topics including Yoga Calm applications for ADHD, preschool, counseling, family work, physical/health education, occupational therapy, working with adults and therapeutics. And, of course, there Read More

Becoming Mindful of Mindfulness

We live in a world of buzz and hum, light and noise, constant motion. We’re constantly multitasking and living in future tense. We’re bombarded with information, both through electronic media and the physical environment which seems ever more crowded and cacophonous as marketers and advertisers fight for our attention. When we’re not plugged into electronic Read More

This Summer, Relax, Renew & Refresh with Yoga Calm

One of the things we often hear from people who take our workshops is how surprised they are to learn so much in two days while leaving the workshop refreshed and relaxed. What’s the secret? It’s no secret at all to education researchers who have found that active learning processes, rest and relaxation, and a Read More

Reducing Anxiety through Exercise

leah pritchard/Flickr Physical exercise has more than just physical benefits. For instance, as we wrote a while back, when kids exercise more, they also tend to achieve more academically. In Spark, John Ratey provides ample support for this as well as the many other benefits of exercise for children and adults. For example, exercise also Read More

Yoga in the Classroom Makes a Difference

One of the main questions administrators ask when the prospect of integrating yoga into the curriculum comes up is, “Why?” by which they’re typically wanting to know how yoga connects with an academic mission and what the benefits of that connection are. Of course, there are plenty of answers to this, depending on a school’s Read More

Healthy Children = Healthy Planet, or “No Child Left Inside”

Health care and climate change dominate the headlines these days, but how are they related? Well, for one, through our children. In fact, no two issues will affect them more in their lifetimes – from supporting Medicare costs for us baby boomers to dealing with the effects of major changes in weather patterns. And solutions Read More

Michelle Obama Says, “Let’s Move” – We Agree

Last month, we looked at how the distraction brought on by electronic media and multitasking can cause problems for kids – things like lower grades, mood swings and more behavioral issues. But it’s not just about mental distraction. There’s a physical aspect as well. For kids who are glued to a screen are kids who Read More

Electronic Media and the Battle for Our Minds

When was the last time you had an hour – an hour without distractions – just to think about things? Or even a half hour? Fifteen minutes? As I write this blog, instant messages flash up on my second monitor while my printer churns out workshop handouts and my cell phone beeps a voice mail Read More

The New Year, Chaos & Beauty

Update of post originally published January 12, 2009   As 2009 winds down, we look to the beginning of 2010. As with all transitions, the end of a cycle presents an interesting challenge. It’s a rich time for reflection but also a potential trap for self-criticism. We mention this as many of you have undoubtedly Read More

School-Based Yoga & the Religion Issue

We recently ran across an interesting blog post by a mother who grew concerned when her daughter told of her class doing yoga at school – “not because I was opposed to the movement,” she writes, but because the particular practice involved activities that she considered “meditation.” As I brushed her hair, unsnarling the tangles Read More

Money, Kids & Stress

Since the 2008 economic crisis, much has been discussed and written about how its effects are not just financial but psychological, as well. And as a recent New York Times article reminds us, they affect children just as much as adults. Children, especially, have become hidden casualties, often absorbing more than their parents are fully Read More

Focusing that Wild Halloween Energy

Originally published October 31, 2008   Halloween can be a wonderful time for children to explore their imaginations. Or, as many teachers and parents can attest, it can be a nightmare of sugar-fueled over-excitement and big emotions. There’s nothing wrong with “big energy”and excited children, of course. They just need to learn when it’s appropriate, Read More

Guided Relaxation with Yoga Jim

We’ve been talking a bit about stress lately and the need for quality sleep and other habits to counter it and make ourselves more stress-resilient. Yet another means of letting go of the tension is the kind of deep relaxation that ends every yoga practice. As B.K.S. Iyengar, a well-respected yoga teacher who has played Read More

10 Tips for Better Sleep

  sean dreilinger/Flickr In our book Yoga Calm for Children we write: When we rest, the body heals and the mind and body integrate experiences. Rest allows us to reflect on the day and notice the effects of our activities on our emotions, mind, and body. In rest, free of distractions and stimulation, we are able Read More

Bucking Back to School Stress

Children are so perceptive, so often aware of things that we “grownups” may not be tuned into. They know when something is wrong. They may not be able to say what it is or why it is, but they pick up on our attitudes, feelings and values. It’s one of the ways they learn from Read More

Back-to-School Time Is Great Yoga Time

Summertime is important to teachers with nearly three months off to recover from the school year and renew yourself. Some pursue personal and professional enrichment activities. Others take up summer teaching, whether by choice or necessity. Many will travel or just enjoy the blessing of having more relaxed, quality time with family and friends close Read More

How to Nurture Learning: Environment + Method


It never ceases to amaze us, the many talented and passionate educators we meet each year during our Summer Intensive. They come from all over – Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington and Oregon – yet all share a similar commitment to children’s growth and an interest in rekindling their love of teaching. Read More

Yoga Calm Develops Children into Compassionate Leaders

Yoga Calm can help develop children into leaders through teaching yoga. Here’s a wonderful video of one of Lynea’s students who is now leading Yoga Calm classes.  Haley is a compassionate and creative teacher who is already creating guided stories with social/emotional lessons – all at age 11!  

Emotional Regulation: Five Breath Success

“Mrs. Gillen!” exclaimed a fifth grade boy, running up to me as I arrived at school one day this past week. “I have to tell you what happened!” This student has struggled with attention difficulties yet just recently moved from the behavior classroom to regular education for a major part of the day. Indeed, he’s Read More

Yoga, Mediterranean Syle

Casperia Street for CC

Italy! The name conjures up Mediterranean images of rolling hills carpeted with vineyards, ancient architecture, art and culture, fashion, great food and wine – and an art of living all too easily forgotten in our fast-paced world. Indeed, the Mediterranean is the historical epicenter of Western culture. But few realize that it’s also the birthplace Read More

Developing Self-Regulation


In our work with children, we are often reminded of just how important it is to learn the skill of self-regulation – especially for children with impulse control weaknesses. As Peter Levine powerfully illustrated at a recent workshop we attended, impulse control is a key child development stage, and impulse disorders go hand-in-hand with ADHD, Read More

Getting Kids Out of Their Heads, Into Their Bodies


For a recent Yoga Calm workshop, school counselor Bonnie Cannon wrote an insightful commentary on her developing awareness of yoga as self-study and how this may benefit the children she works with. We asked if we could share her good words on our blog. We were happy to hear, “Yes.” Thanks, Bonnie! The primary understanding Read More

Valentine’s Day Advice

Recently, a group of five fifth grade boys in one of my Yoga Calm groups said they had something “really important to talk with me about.” It had “something to do about” their feelings. Over the course of the year, these boys had gradually opened up about all sorts of things in our groups, from Read More

How Yoga Can Help Your Child Become Calm, Controlled, Disciplined, and Happier

by Lyn McCallister, via Associated Content Children can sometimes be unfocused and a bit wild. Sometimes these children cannot concentrate and have a difficult time in school despite being bright and eager to learn. Your child may even have a behavior disorder. Sound familiar? If your child fits this description, it might be because he Read More

The New Year – Chaos & Beauty


It’s the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. And like with all transitions, the end of a cycle presents an interesting challenge. It’s a rich time for reflection but also a potential trap for self-criticism. We mention this as many of you have undoubtedly had challenging moments teaching Yoga with children. And those working Read More

New Yoga Calm Workshops – Working with Trauma; Wellness & Environmental Ed.


We’ve just been updating our schedule of upcoming Yoga Calm courses, and wanted to let you know about a couple new offerings in particular: Listening to the Body: Yoga Calm for Trauma and  Love Knowledge & Action: Inspiring Environmental Stewardship Taught by Lynea Gillen, Listening to the Body participants will learn how to combine simple Read More

Using Rewards


Recently, Jim and I were struggling with our weekly Children’s Program class. We had a few children who were having trouble getting themselves under control, and they, in turn, would throw the whole class off – a not uncommon experience for any classroom teacher!  While each situation is different, a few questions arose for us Read More

Yoga Calm Kids on KATU/ABC

Yoga Calm was featured on Portland morning program AM Northwest doing a Yoga Calm demonstration with kids. You have to see Brandon being interviewed by the host while holding side plank!