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Yoga Calm® Frequently Asked Questions

What is Yoga Calm?
How was Yoga Calm developed?
Why should I consider using Yoga Calm at my school, clinic or practice?
Do many schools use yoga with children?
How is Yoga Calm different from other children's yoga programs?
How can Yoga Calm help special needs children?
What research supports your approach?
Isn't yoga a religion?
Is Yoga Calm approved for continuing education?
Can I teach Yoga Calm if I have no experience in yoga and am not physically able to do strenuous physical activities?
Do you have a certification program?
How do I get started with Yoga Calm?

What is Yoga Calm?

Yoga Calm is an innovative child education method that melds the traditional yoga practices of mindfulness, physical activity and nervous system regulation with social skills games and counseling techniques. Integrating fitness, social/emotional and cognitive learning into 5 to 40 minute processes, the program includes more than 60 activities specially designed for use in school and therapeutic settings. They include yoga-based movement and breathing, social/emotional games, relaxation activities and storytelling.

Yoga Calm gives children a way to

  • learn how to relax, nurture and regulate emotions.
  • increase physical fitness, self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • improve concentration and imagination, subject retention and test scores.
  • enhance communication, trust, empathy, teamwork and leadership skills.
  • develop the ability to make healthy life choices.

How was Yoga Calm developed?

In 2002, prompted by dramatic increases in children's stress-related health and behavior issues, school counselor Lynea Gillen started blending yoga with social and emotional skills-building training. Together, with her husband Jim Gillen, their 30 years of classroom, counseling and yoga experience sparked the development of many innovative processes.They soon began teaching Yoga Calm processes to adults seeking a way to support, nurture and educate the whole child. Since then, hundreds of teachers, counselors and occupational therapists from more than a dozen states have been trained in this integrative approach to learning.

Notably, the program has also been adapted for settings other than the classroom. One of these is the Children's Program in Portland, Oregon, which has successfully collaborated with Yoga Calm in working with children and teens coping with ADHD, anxiety and other mental health concerns.

Why should I consider using Yoga Calm at my school, clinic or practice?

The short answer: because it works!

Educators using Yoga Calm have seen their students improve their focus, learning readiness, behavioral skills, physical health and emotional stability. Administrators have found yoga programs to be a cross-curricular asset: they boost staff and student morale and achievement, and reduce reports of behavior problems.

In an era of scarce resources and competing mandates, Yoga Calm has proven a cost-effective investment in school wellness. It requires little or no equipment and modest amounts of staff time.

Do many schools use yoga with children?

In the 1990s, Western medicine began to recognize yoga as an effective wellness practice. Since then, its use has skyrocketed. An estimated 16.5 million Americans now practice yoga regularly.

Paralleling this growth, an estimated 10,000 teachers have attended school yoga program trainings during this time, and hundreds of US schools have brought yoga into their curricula.

How is Yoga Calm different from other children's yoga programs?

Yoga Calm uniquely addresses the needs of both children and the adults who work with them in three ways:

  • the teaching of lifelong stress reduction and social/emotional skills
  • the integration of physical, mental and emotional learning processes
  • the guidance by principles instead of procedures

Teachers and counselors report seeing more and more children coming to school with high stress levels, behavior issues and a lack of effective social/emotional skills. Not only do these factors create a more stressful school environment; they also inhibit learning. Yoga Calm addresses these barriers by meeting children's basic needs of community, safety, structure, discipline, health and self-control. Through a highly experiential process that engages both the body and mind for optimum learning, Yoga Calm helps children develop skills in identifying and expressing emotions, communication, trust, empathy, teamwork and leadership.

Five principles lie at the heart of Yoga Calm: Stillness, Listening, Grounding, Strength and Community. Guided by these rather than procedures to be followed, Yoga Calm empowers teachers to creatively adapt its processes to their students' specific needs. Thus, Yoga Calm can be used with a broad range of ages, populations and abilities, and in a wide variety of learning environments. It also provides the flexibility to take advantage of the "teachable moments" that arise.

How can Yoga Calm help special needs children?

Yoga Calm's integrated approach has proven helpful to many different special needs populations, such as children with physical disabilities or diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety or autism spectrum disorders.

Successful social interaction, compliment processes and a focus on positive cognitive skills all help counter the negative feedback special needs children often face. Combined with the social/emotional processes, the physical yoga provides a healthy outlet for stress and skills for dealing with strong emotions. And the social/emotional games themselves help children develop the ability to understand their feelings, as well as those of others.

Relaxation processes and storytelling reduce stress, cognitively integrate emotions and learning, and develop imagination. The structure, routine and discipline of the sessions provide a sense of safety while developing competence and self-esteem. Biofeedback and social feedback develop students' abilities to self-regulate and develop self-awareness.

Sensory integration issues are addressed through the various balance and standing poses. These develop vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems, supporting intellectual, social and personal development. The poses can also help children with ADHD develop self-awareness and concentration. Breathing techniques help with nervous system regulation, while alternating between calming and energizing activities develops students' abilities to handle transitions better. By learning how to activate and calm their nervous systems as needed, students grow more able to find their optimum arousal levels for learning.

What research supports your approach?

Three key research areas inform Yoga Calm: stress management, integrative learning and program evaluations. A select bibliography of some of the most important work in these areas is available on our References page. Analysis of such studies, along with years of reports from teachers, parents and students, has shown us that an integrated curriculum like Yoga Calm's benefits students, teachers and parents alike.

Isn't yoga a religion?

No, yoga is not a religion.

Though no one knows exactly when yoga began, it certainly predates written history. Stone carvings of human figures in yoga positions found in the Indus Valley date back 3500 years or more - well before the beginnings of Hinduism. This fact alone puts to rest the common misconception that yoga is rooted in that religion! But to avoid any confusion, Yoga Calm does not use any Sanskrit or religious terminology, imagery or concepts.

Since Hinduism's incorporation of some yogic practices into its religious structures, many secular and nonsecular organizations have followed suit. Today, yoga is practiced in health clubs, businesses, churches, physical therapy offices, hospitals and schools around the world.

Is Yoga Calm approved for continuing education?

Yes, Yoga Calm workshops are approved for Continuing Education Graduate level credit at six colleges and universities, including Portland State University. Workshops also qualify for CEUs, CECs and CE points through other professional accreditation programs including the National Board of Certified Counselors, the American Council on Exercise and Yoga Alliance. Occupational therapy boards and other organizations also offer continuing education credits for completing Yoga Calm training.

You can read more about professional development opportunities with Yoga Calm on our Accreditations page.

Can I teach Yoga Calm if I have no experience in yoga and am not physically able to do strenuous physical activities?

You don't need to be physically "in shape" to teach Yoga Calm activities. The breathing, social/emotional games and relaxation techniques can be taught by anyone. And the physical yoga and balance poses are safe and accessible to people across a wide range of abilities.

To get the greatest benefit, though, we do recommend that you develop some awareness of and practice in its physical activities. They can help you relax, reduce stress and take a "stretch break" during your work day. Who knows? You may find that yoga is just the antidote to a stressful job and busy life.

Do you have a certification program?

Yes, Yoga Calm has one of the most comprehensive program available for teaching yoga with children. Check out our Certification section for more information.

How do I get started with Yoga Calm?

There are several ways to implement Yoga Calm. The simplest is to read Yoga Calm for Children. This comprehensive book has numerous easy-to-teach activities that you can use immediately with your students.

To gain a deeper understanding, you can attend a Yoga Calm workshop. There, you will gain more instruction and experience in the philosophy, principles and tools of Yoga Calm.

Our staff is also able to lead inservice trainings at your school or conference facility, and is likewise available for conference presentations. Contact us to learn more.

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