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 [email protected] or call 416-910-3114 for more information.

It is my mission to support you.
[email protected]

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

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.