Enough with the Scientific Studies!!!

Written by Marni Levitt

I love science.  I am fascinated by the observation, questioning, exploration and discovery of the natural world, human beings and the universe.  I believe that mindfulness is its own kind of ‘inner science’, where we study our own thoughts and feelings and find patterns.  I believe science should be focused on more in school.  I believe humans should LISTEN more to MOST of the world’s scientists who believe that climate change is an imminent and immediate threat to our survival on the planet.

‘OK. Science is cool.  Science is essential. I have established that.

BUT – the problem I have with scientific studies is that they are increasingly used to validate wellness practices such as yoga and mindfulness.  There are a proliferation of studies, articles, research, etc…that are usually only a google search away.  I don’t post the statistics or research on my website because I don’t feel I have to.  Just google it. You will find something, and these days you will find LOTS of things.

YES – it is a positive development that the studies now exist to help the established medical and educational world feel it is OK to start using and implementing practices that come from yoga and mindfulness in order to help people.  This is good, if this is what is needed.

What comes to mind, though, are titles of articles I see floating around social media, such as ‘Studies show that increased use of empathy can improve brain-functioning’ OR ‘Studies show that children who learn kindness early in life have a better chance at a successful career’ …etc…I am just making up these titles right now, but I am sure I have seen similar ones.

HOWEVER, there can be an OVER-reliance on these studies, and an almost obsessive and narrow focus on using the studies primarily as the reason to try something new, or to validate something that is already being done.  Sometimes I feel as though we are asking other people to take risks and to try something new before we do.  We need hundreds or thousands of people to find something useful before we give it a go.  What has happened to our sense of adventure and risk-taking in life?  What has happened to our sense of trying something for ourselves, and feeling what the experience is like?  No one can take away a first-person experience.  Everyone experiences life differently.

The fact that scientific studies to validate mindfulness are proliferating just tells me how much we REALLY do need that mindfulness!  When we learn to listen to our bodies and minds, observe the patterns that create a healthy and happy life for ourselves, we won’t need someone outside of ourselves to tell us it is OK.  We will just KNOW.

FURTHERMORE – what has happened to our sense of ethics and morality?  Are we really leaving it up to scientists to dictate which pro-social behaviours actually make our lives better?  Didn’t our grandparents have a sense of this?  Didn’t our elders and ancestors?  These basic human values come to us through stories and folklore rooted in many old cultures on the planet.  I have a feeling they knew things before the scientists did!  Do we really need a scientific study to tell us that the use of empathy towards others increases our enjoyment and success in life?  I think most people find these things out by direct life experience and trial an error.

Direct first-hand experience, trial and error and observation are an essential part of the process of mindfulness and self-exploration.  Listening to yourself is essential, it is the key.  A teacher may point or guide you in the right direction, but it is ultimately a very intimate and personal experience.  Of Course, it is wonderful and helpful to share these experiences with each other, but does it always have to be in the form of a dry, clinical study?  Let’s sing about it, tell stories and dance.  Let’s laugh and tell jokes.  We can marvel at the wonder of being human together.


Marni

1-416-910-3114

@Move_N_Music

marni@move-n-music.com
www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT

Founder Move-N-Music
Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker

Ignite the potential for your body and mind

The Story of Move-N-Music Video
Marni Levitt Music on Soundcloud

Body-Full- Ness

Written by Marni Levitt

Mindfulness has become a popular word, used widely to describe the mind’s awareness of what is happening in the present moment. A state of being that can improve our health, relationships and work. I believe it should be called ‘Body-Full- Ness’. Part of the reason the word has become so popular in modern western life is because we can relate with the word ‘mind’ that is in ‘mindfulness’. We love anything to do with thinking and cognition. Mind over matter. What I have learned from my years of self-study and learning in mindfulness meditation and personal growth, is that my emotional experience resides primarily in my body. ‘Mindfulness’ is a paying attention, not just to thoughts, but (perhaps more importantly) to the direct physical experience that locates itself in the body.

The body is the resonator for emotional experience. Like the body of my guitar that reverberates when I pluck the strings, my bodily experience resonates and responds along with my thoughts, perceptions and experiences. When I really pay attention to what is going on in my bodily sensations, and the emotions swirling inside, I have a natural built-in compass that directs my course in the day-to- day and in life. Easier said than done in a culture that so values the cognitive (thinking) aspects of experience. It is all related and interconnected. When I practise ‘mindfulness’ in my modern western lifestyle, I am getting acquainted intimately with my thoughts, but even more importantly, tuning into my body and the multiple facets of emotional experience and knowledge. Every time I do that, I access a whole self, with a full range of awareness – not only of what is going on inside myself, but what is going on around me. You could say my ‘Body-Full- Ness’ is a key that opens the door to a whole universe.

Today, see how many times you can notice physical sensations: the air going in the nostrils, the abdomen rising and falling, the feeling of your foot touching the ground with every step, the feeling of your hand touching a doorknob, the taste of the food in your mouth. Simple. Not easy, but simple. This basic awareness sets a baseline for noticing when emotional ups and downs come rolling through the body like waves in a storm.


 

Marni Levitt

1-416- 910-3114

@Move_N_Music

marni@move-n- music.com

www.move-n- music.com

 

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT

Founder Move-N- Music

Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker

 

Ignite the potential for your body and mind

The Story of Move-N- Music Video

Marni Levitt Music on Soundcloud

Words that start with ‘M’: Mindfulness & Mental Health

By Marni Levitt

Mindfulness and Yoga changed my life.

Not only in terms of REDUCING STRESS and increasing intuition and creativity, BUT ALSO: they are tools that systematically helped me to become a BETTER PERSON, AND helped me to discover my true GIFTS and TALENTS to share with others, and to inspire the best in them, through my LIFE’S WORK and MISSION. I want that for you, your students, your clients, your team, your family.

Mindfulness and Yoga are tools that have had a huge impact on my life – in fact, they have completely altered my patterns of relating to my self, other people and the world at large. I have literally experienced miracles as a direct result of my practise of yoga and mindfulness. I have connected with just the right person at the right time (when I needed something), I have had powerful access to my intuition that has helped me to solve significant problems at work and in life. I have sensed that something important was about to happen, before it did. It has seemed almost as though, as I get to know myself deeply (the patterns of my thoughts, emotions, body sensations and energies), then I automatically know the world, and other people deeply. I believe that’s because I am in the universe, but the universe is also in me. This direct experiential knowledge (in addition to the mountains of growing scientific evidence) has huge implications for individuals, families, organizations and businesses.

In maintaining my own mental health, mindfulness has acted as a powerful compliment to aerobic exercise, healthy eating & cooking, gardening and hobbies, talk therapy, a community of friends and neighbours and self-expression through music, dance, art and writing. I have discovered that being mentally healthy means getting in touch with the unique gifts and talents I was born with, that I need to share. When I am not able to share my gifts or my brilliance, (ie. music!), then they get stuck inside me, and it doesn’t feel good. When I share them, I self-actualize while simultaneously inspiring and moving other people. Health for self means health for others. There are exponential returns when I feel I am living my life in alignment with my truth, and my true calling, and when I am present. Being present in my moment-by-moment bodily, thinking and emotional experience, is something I have learned through the practise of mindfulness.

I can’t count how many times magical connections have been made when I trust the creative process that is life! I believe that mental health is just as much a social responsibility, as it is an individual responsibility. The solutions lie in how we relate with ourselves, and each other, in a collective context. Culture is the means by which each individual relates with the whole. Move-N-Music aims to be a leader in healthy-culture creation. The culture I envision is one grounded in Mindfulness. I use cultural arts (singing, drumming, dancing, spoken word poetry, storytelling) to promote this culture. I believe we are at a turning point in our world, and we must move swiftly towards a more productive and healthy way of being. Our very ecosystems, economic systems, healthcare, education and business systems are at stake if we do not change and move towards health. All of these systems impact your own personal wellness, success and happiness directly.

Each person is part-and-parcel of the larger whole. So many jobs and workplaces structured in our modern world do not allow people to use or express their natural gifts. In the world of public school teaching, the resources were often scarce, and the systemic stresses in the system so significant, that sometimes I could not even teach music, I was just maintaining safety in the room. As human beings with great potential, I believe we can do much better in structuring our systems to facilitate real growth! Mindfulness is one of the tools that can give us back what is natural and inherent in all of us: the power to be authentically human, and to thrive.


Want to learn more about The Move-N-Music Story? Click here:

Want to introduce habits to foster Mental Health for your school, workplace, family or organization?

Move-N-Music offers Mind-Body Breaks Presentation & Workshops: An Inspiring and motivating start to creating positive physical and mental health

Activities include:

-Singing, Rhythmic Clapping, Movement
-Music, Sound and Breathing Games
-Fun Contests & Imaginative Play
-Singing Bowl demonstration
-Stretching, Guided Relaxation and Visualization

Email me marni@move-n-music.com or call 416-910-3114 for more information.

It is my mission to support you.
1-416-910-3114
@Move_N_Music
marni@move-n-music.com
www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed. OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Arts & Wellness Educator, Animator, Speaker

If They’re Singing They’re Breathing!

By Craig Hanauer E-RYT 500 RCYT

If movement is a child’s first language then music is her second. Visit any good preschool or kindergarten class and there is a song for everything from cleaning-up to preparing to go home. This is because young children are much more likely to process language communicated to them via song. Unlike speech, music is processed at all levels of the brain; at the brain stem it affects arousal levels and through the limbic system it has a powerful impact upon emotions. It is in the cortex that it is understood on an intellectual level.

Yoga class provides many opportunities for singing and moving to music, and the benefits of these activities abound. Children can be implicitly guided through a yoga sequence coordinated to kid friendly music, and explicit directions can be communicated via song. Rhythmic movements tend to be organizing, and singing supports expressive language and literacy. Different frequencies resonate in different parts of the body, so chanting mantra stimulates the body’s energy centers/chakras.

Another benefit of singing is that it is the perfect way to prompt young children to breath. Sheila Frick OT in her manual on building core strength describes the twofold recipe for increasing postural support; simultaneously engaging the core muscles closest to the bone while taking deep inhalations followed by long controlled exhalations. This is exactly what singing entails. If you can get your students to hold Boat Pose while singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” you are serving them well.


Craig Hanauer is a Kripalu trained Yoga Alliance Registered “Experienced” 500-Hour Children’s Yoga Teacher.  He is also certified in New York State as a Creative Arts Therapist, a School Teacher and a School Building Leader.  Committed to the health and wellbeing of children, Craig has developed “Every Kid’s Yoga”, a unique and successful program for children with varied abilities and needs that integrates the creative arts, yoga, and play. He specializes in training yoga teachers, educators, therapists and parents in this therapeutic and fun-filled approach to working with kids. Craig continues to work directly with young people in a variety of settings such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Preschool at 3rd Street Music Settlement, and Satellite Academy a NYC Department of Education Alternative High School. Craig recently founded The Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Collaborative, a Yoga Alliance Approved 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training school.

You can read more about Craig and his programs by visiting his websites and Facebook page.

Emotions Experienced in the Body

Written by: Marni Levitt

I remember my body dropping several flights in a split second on the ride at Disney World. The ride was called ‘The Drop’ or something like that, and simulated an extremely sharp elevator drop. My stomach was up, several meters higher than the rest of my body, which dropped down sharply – all of a sudden. A thrill, an unpleasant feeling, scary – all depending on how you perceived it. For me, it was both scary and unpleasant. I have felt that feeling in my stomach many times – but not on a Disney World ride – rather, in daily life situations that feel scary or stressful. I feel like my stomach is dropping down – almost right out of my body. (The opposite of my body dropping down, and stomach in the air, but similar feeling nonetheless). I have felt like that many times at work, in stressful moments.

I am sure many people experience similar physical experiences of emotions. ‘I have butterflies in my stomach’; ‘I have cold feet’; ‘my heart is broken’, ‘you make me sick’, ‘I am listening to my gut, and something just doesn’t feel right’. If you resonate with any of these expressions, or feelings, you may have a sense that our language reflects our lived experience and reality.

With the recent scientific validation of mindfulness and yoga, through studies and neuroscience, it is easy to start believing that emotions and feelings happen between your ears, in your head (ie. in your brain). In Eastern thought (where yoga and mindfulness originate), the mind is considered a mystery. Who is the one who is knowing and experiencing? Western science takes this ‘self’ for granted, Eastern traditions question and wonder about it.

I wonder how many people experience their emotional reality inside of their heads? Through my years of mindfulness meditation experience, and practise of yoga, in addition to work with a psychotherapist – I have learned to be aware of, and identify the feelings in my body; in this way, my body has become my emotional compass, leading me to wellness. For example, when my chest and throat start to feel tight, it is likely that I am experiencing sadness or grief. When I tune into this experience (either through mindfulness meditation, or just being aware as I go about my day), I can then work with it, be present with it, and that is when it often starts to transform, or loosen, and I get some relief from the pain. Identifying my physical experience of emotions – or physical processing of emotions, has made a world difference for me, on a practical, daily basis.

I have been able to navigate life and work, and improve my mental health and wellness in leaps and bounds.

According to Wikipedia, Pali (Pāli) is a Prakrit language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of many of the earliest extant literature of Buddhism. The Pali-English Dictionary suggests citta is heart / mind, and emphasizing it is more the emotive side of mind as opposed to manas, as the intellect or mind-sense in the sense of what grasps mental objects (dhammas). From the cultures that gave birth to mindfulness practices now transforming the West, there is a different understanding of mind than that assumed by modern, Western, scientific concepts. The heart is in the body, the body experiences emotions. The more traditional (and time-tested) practices such as mindfulness and yoga have an understanding of mind that includes the heart. This conception certainly resonates with my life experience – and being in touch with my body (and therefore emotions) has only improved my life and relationships. Being aware of the body, and of feelings, is the first step to working with those feelings – and often, mitigating or limiting a fight-or-flight stress response.

There are scientific studies on just about everything now – which is great, as it helps give a certain validity to fields or practices previously considered marginal (in modern Western context). More and more people are turning to these types of supports, in search of practical solutions to exponentially-increasing stress and distractions modern life. People are flocking to yoga and mindfulness meditation retreats in droves. Parents are finding help for issues that previously seemed unsolvable for their kids. I know that I have made a scientific study of my own life: about 99.9% of the time, when I am feeling a great deal of stress about something, after a yoga class, whatever problem seemed insurmountable before class, suddenly feels workable – and often I feel at peace. Wow.

Just like magic. My mind (and emotions) became calm because of actions I did with my body and breath. Hopefully with the logic of science, and the art of being aware of feelings – we can start to connect with a broader canvas of human experience: one that includes the head, the heart, the body, and therefore our entire being. I believe that’s where we will find long-term solutions for the pervasive ailments of modern living.


Move-N-Music is offering ‘mind-FUN-ness’ customized small group coaching sessions to introduce the concept of mindfulness in a fun, hands-on, engaging way.  For more information, please email marni@move-n-music.com
Every Sunday Morning near St.Clair and Oakwood in Toronto

April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8, 2016
9:30am – 10:30am
For ages: 5-8

Find out more about Marni’s programs by checking out her website; www.move-n-music.com

Marni Levitt B.A.(Hons.), OCT, RYT
Founder Move-N-Music
Arts & Wellness Educator,
Animator, Speaker

1-416-910-3114
Skype: Marni.Levitt1
marni@move-n-music.com
www.move-n-music.com

Photo in article from Move-N-Music Family mind-FUN-ness day in Toronto – Feb.2016.

How Do You Say “Yoga” in Spanish? Answer: Joga

By Craig Hanauer E-RYT 500 RCYT

As a Spanish language learner, one of my favorite activities is to take yoga class in Spanish. These classes have provided excellent opportunities for me to work on my receptive language skills and to ultimately better understand my language challenged students. I benefit from the linking of words with familiar movements; the relaxation I experience there allows me to better process what is being said; and I am more fluent after class. Though not evident in English (except perhaps when attempting to identify the words in a song), my expressive language is much stronger than my receptive language in Spanish. I know at times I have impressed native speakers with my ability to speak, and have been met with responses that are communicated much too quickly for me to completely comprehend. This same misunderstanding occurs with children who sound good due to scripting and echolalia, but are quite challenged receptively. I’ve always been told that language ability decreases under stress and at times I have been alarmed by the lack of access I have had to my Spanish when I’ve been angered or upset.

Now after many years of working with language challenged students I find myself working in a preschool with mostly typically developing children. The first marked difference is that they can wait. I used to clamor to move onto the next song or activity to avoid a regression into total chaos, but now as I fiddle with my ipod, most of them are able to just sit and wait, incredible! For my language challenged students just following along in English was difficult, however here in the preschool I am inclined to take advantage of that brief window of opportunity when children are most receptive to learning a second language. I have been looking for ways to incorporate Spanish into my work, and young children who are exposed to a second language either at home or at school are likely to retain that information for a lifetime.

One of my first ventures into bringing Spanish into my children’s yoga classes was to have a Mexican program assistant lead an entire class in Spanish during a children’s program at Kripalu. Although most of the children did not identify as Spanish speakers, they were able to follow along with minimal support due to the associated movements and sounds. Now I have a whole lineup of Spanish language songs that lend themselves to yoga-based movement. The music provides me with the structure and support I need to introduce Spanish to my students, and the associated movements and sounds provide the same for them. I was blown away recently when one of my 4 year-old students translated “estirar” into “stretch”, as she was familiar with the song we were acting out in English.

If you do decide to bring Spanish into your kid’s yoga classes just keep in mind that animals make different sounds in Spanish than they do in English; did you know that in Mexico chickens say Pio Pio and roosters says kikirikí, ki-kiri-ki?

I’m in the market for a Spanish “See and Say” if anyone has any leads.

 


Craig Hanauer is a Kripalu trained Yoga Alliance Registered “Experienced” 500-Hour Children’s Yoga Teacher.  He is also certified in New York State as a Creative Arts Therapist, a School Teacher and a School Building Leader.  Committed to the health and wellbeing of children, Craig has developed “Every Kid’s Yoga”, a unique and successful program for children with varied abilities and needs that integrates the creative arts, yoga, and play. He specializes in training yoga teachers, educators, therapists and parents in this therapeutic and fun-filled approach to working with kids. Craig continues to work directly with young people in a variety of settings such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Preschool at 3rd Street Music Settlement, and Satellite Academy a NYC Department of Education Alternative High School. Craig recently founded The Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Collaborative, a Yoga Alliance Approved 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training school.

You can read more about Craig and his programs by visiting his websites and Facebook page.

The Power of Saying No!

Written by: Anita Barnes of Leslieville Yoga in Toronto, Canada.

Learning to say No! Do you get anxious just thinking about it?   Saying no is challenging for most of us. We want to make people happy, be liked, and not disappoint those that we care about or annoy a boss.  If you are always saying yes, not only will it impede your self-care, it will leave you open to exploitation.

I have always been amazed and inspired by the few individuals that I know that seem to say “no” so effortlessly. They don’t second-guess their decision; they don’t feel guilty and are not too concerned what the recipient of the no thinks. This is something to aspire to!

It goes beyond saying no to a request. Maybe you need to say no to long hours at work, relationships that are a drain and lack reciprocity, an unhealthy diet or lifestyle.

Learning to deny a request confidently is a boundary issue. Having good and healthy boundaries is critical to your well-being. I’ve been in many situations in which I have said yes only to feel the regret as the yes was leaving my lips. Occasionally I have felt put on the spot because it happened in front of a group of people and I wanted to be a nice person.

At times I have followed through with whatever I said yes to with great resentment or had to cancel because what I said yes to wasn’t possible. Neither situation is respectable. Walking around with resentment when the recipient of your yes is unaware of how you feel can turn into a poisonous situation.   Letting the person down by reneging on your yes can have a negative impact on your relationship as you will come across as unreliable.

Since some of these awful and very awkward situations I have been practicing saying “no.” Some requests are very easy to say no to, while others feel like I have to say yes. Now, with most requests, I say, “I’ll think about it, let me get back to you.” This gives me time to think about the request, check my calendar and with my husband. I find it very helpful to sit quietly with it, take a few deep breaths, and notice what feelings come up. It helps to ask yourself: “ Do I really have time for this? Will this interfere with my self-care in any way?”

I also believe that it is important to be as nice and friendly as you can with your nos. There is no need to be rude or curt. You can politely decline: “no thank-you.”

With these soft responses most people have respected my decision and dropped the subject. I also realized that if someone gets really annoyed with my no, then I have to ask myself if I want that person in my life.

Years ago I knew an individual that I didn’t particularly like or trust. They were very aggressive insisting that we go for a coffee. It was something that I had no desire to do. I didn’t say yes, which was good, but I didn’t say a clear no either. For months, this person kept asking and I kept making excuses. Finally, I responded by saying: “Thank-you so much for your kind offer. I’m going to pass though.” Polite and very clear. I did not give a reason. This person never asked me for a coffee again or bothered me about anything else.

At times you may have a very valid reason to saying no: “Sorry, I can’t watch your cat when you are away because I will be away at the same time.” It is also essential to be mindful of excuses.   You don’t need to explain yourself and your no will lose its’ strength and clarity if you go on and on with an explanation. If your new to this “no” concept and feel you need to give a reason, keep it short: “sorry, this is not a good time for me”, “my schedule won’t allow it” or “that is not possible.” Keep in mind that pushy or demanding people will keep trying and you will have to be firm and may need to repeat your response without adding to it or giving in.

It is imperative to find some balance. You don’t want to go to the extreme of saying no all of the time because that will disconnect and isolate you from your community. You also don’t want to continue saying yes all of the time because that will cause exhaustion and resentment.

Make the decision that your self-care is important. It takes practice and some courage. With practice, it does get easier. Ask yourself: “by saying yes to this request, what I’m I saying no to in my life.” Saying no is being honest and is as important to your happiness as getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, and exercising. Saying no is saying yes to your well-being and life.

Written by Anita Barnes of Leslieville Yoga in Toronto, Canada.


Anita first became curious about yoga at a young age wondering why her mother was standing on her head. In 1993 she walked into a yoga studio and her life changed forever. Yoga and meditation are responsible for her twisted back remaining pain free and her recovery from depression.

She is a certified Hatha Yoga Teacher and received her training from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Val Morin, Quebec in 1998. She has also received training in Yin and Restorative Yoga and has a certificate in Trauma Sensitive Yoga. She is also a certified Thai Yoga Massage Practioner. She taught at the Sivananda Yoga Centre in Toronto from 1998 -2010, and has also taught yoga in a Toronto courthouse and hospital. She is a member of the Natural Health Practioners of Canada and the Canadian Yoga Alliance.

She has created a “Yoga On And Off The Mat Program” which introduces individuals in the corporate world to yoga and teaches how one can incorporate yoga into everyday life. She has a long history of working in mental health and with individuals that experience homelessness, and is currently exploring ways to bring yoga to both.

She continues to be a student of various types of yoga, yoga philosophy and theory.

You can learn more by contacting her at:

http://www.leslievilleyoga.ca/

241 Leslie Street (north of Dundas)
Toronto, Ontario , M4M 3C8
Phone: (416) 838-9461
leslievilleyoga@yahoo.ca

Yoga: A Great Activity to Enhance Speech, Language and Literacy

By Craig Hanauer E-RYT 500 CYT
Over the past 15 years of teaching yoga to children I have come to appreciate what an amazing activity yoga is for supporting speech, language and literacy development. As children many of us were told to sit still and listen, and sadly comments such as this can still be heard in schools around the world. For some children this is an either or proposition, they can either sit still or listen, and moving their bodies helps them to self-regulate and attend.

Ask any speech pathologist and they will tell you about the connection between movement and expressive language; having kids move their bodies during speech therapy sessions is akin to greasing the wheel. This is why asking children to be quiet in yoga class is a true self-regulatory challenge. I recall working with a selectively mute child who would only speak during movement-related activities, and at these times she was quite talkative. Opportunities for child-directedness in yoga class provide important practice in initiation, sequencing, coordinating movement and expressive language, and creativity.

kid's yoga with Craig Hanauer

Children are likely to be more relaxed during yoga class which makes them much more receptive to learning, and the calmness they experience afterwards will contribute to increased word retrieval and fluency. Acting out stories or moving to kid friendly songs provides the opportunity to link words or phrases to corresponding movements or actions.

Kinesthetic learners will be much more likely to follow along and retain a story when it is acted out physically, and if a child’s receptive language is challenged, observing classmates and teachers perform will provide valuable visual support.

Many young children, particularly those with developmental delays, lack core strength and postural support. Unfortunately when this is the case, the mechanisms of breathing (the ribcage and the diaphragm) become fixed and locked and engaged in holding the body upright. Yoga increases core strength and postural support, which frees up the mechanisms of breathing for their intended purpose, and ultimately supports self-regulation and expressive language. One needs to be able to take a deep inhalation followed by a long controlled exhalation both to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and to create speech, and an unencumbered diaphragm and rib cage are necessary to do this. Yoga can be extremely strengthening for the diaphragm; for example breathing in Bow Pose against the floor/gravity is like resistance training for the diaphragm. Having a strong diaphragm not only allows one to take deep inhalations, but it allows us to make forceful exhalations, an important ability in blowing our noses to clear our nasal passages. Breathing in bow pose also provides valuable proprioceptive input to the abdominal area, which helps students identify the place you want them to breathe into.

Speech and Language Pathologists have been attending my Every Kid’s Yoga Teacher Training for years, which indicates to me that the relationship between these two seemingly disparate disciplines has become increasingly appreciated and accepted.

Written by Craig Hanauer for Healthy Life Cycle


Craig Hanauer is a Kripalu trained Yoga Alliance Registered “Experienced” 500-Hour Children’s Yoga Teacher.  He is also certified in New York State as a Creative Arts Therapist, a School Teacher and a School Building Leader.  Committed to the health and wellbeing of children, Craig has developed “Every Kid’s Yoga”, a unique and successful program for children with varied abilities and needs that integrates the creative arts, yoga, and play. He specializes in training yoga teachers, educators, therapists and parents in this therapeutic and fun-filled approach to working with kids. Craig continues to work directly with young people in a variety of settings such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, The Preschool at 3rd Street Music Settlement, and Satellite Academy a NYC Department of Education Alternative High School. Craig recently founded The Children’s Yoga Teacher Training Collaborative, a Yoga Alliance Approved 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training school.

You can read more about Craig and his programs by visiting his websites and Facebook page.