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Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: Yoga Calm for Children: Educating Heart, Mind, and Body

Authors: Lynea Gillen, Jim Gillen
Interest Level: Grades K and UP

About This Book: The ultimate guide for parents, teachers and other adults who want to introduce yoga to children, as well as help kids manage stress, build social skills and create lifelong fitness habits! Lavishly illustrated, Yoga Calm for Children includes 60 practical, easy-to teach activities, as well as alignment and safety principles and "emotional first aid" tips. It shows school teachers and counselors how to integrate Yoga Calm activities with regular class work and modify them for specific classroom situations. And it inspires through stories from the authors own experiences of helping kids learn, grow and thrive with Yoga Calm. Specially designed for use in K-12 schools and therapeutic settings, Yoga Calms principle-based approach makes it effective in any environment and with a broad range of ages, populations and abilities, including children with ADHD, anxiety and other disorders. [This] beautiful book...offers a clear program for introducing educational activities and curriculum that address the whole child, rather than just the academic mind.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I've been practicing yoga off and on for years and have appreciated all of it's healing benefits for my mind and body. The emotional boost I feel afterwards is a great reminder of how important it is to have a wellness habit. So when I was given the opportunity to attend a yoga workshop aimed at helping children, I got my yoga mat ready!

Within the first hour of the workshop I began asking myself, 'How have I been working with kids for so many years and not discovered the power of using yoga as a strategy to emotionally strengthen children??' Over the course of the day, we learned how to combine simple yoga with effective counseling techniques to use in small groups or classrooms. There were so many 'a ha' moments I thought I might explode. I've been teaching kids how to breathe and get calm for years....counting to 10..taking breaks...blah blah blah. Apparently, I've been missing a few ingredients for a true calmness recipe. One of my favorite breathing techniques was -Volcano Breath (it's all in the book).

I returned to school today and did an activity called, The Mindful Walk with a 3rd grade class. Of course I had a few kiddos thinking this was silly time. But within minutes we were all walking peacefully around the classroom counting our breathing and clearing our minds for positive thinking. Afterwards, a student who often suffers from frustration asked me if they could come to my office during recess to practice the calm breathing. Um, how cool is that!?

Yoga Calm is a wonderful resource that enhances social/emotional skill building, breathing techniques, and simple EASY yoga poses. We all know how important movement is to help students in the classroom environment. Incorporating yoga into schools is a total NO brainer. I'm going to continue my journey and hopefully work on being a Yoga Calm certified instructor in the fall. It's that good!

Check out Yoga Calm's website for more information. I also love reading their blog. Watch this school in Minneapolis using Yoga Calm.

A Link to This Book:

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