Jennifer Cohen Harper: How Mindfulness Helps Children Flourish In School & In Life

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with the Yoga Service Council Vice President Jennifer Cohen Harper for The Huffington Post Blog to learn how her organization, Little Flower Yoga, is helping children to build resilience and find emotional balance through yoga and mindfulness.

“The capacity to pay attention is directly tied to emotional balance. Kids have to feel good to access the part of themselves that is capable of focus and good decision-making. Yoga improves both of these in a way that is fundamentally appealing to children–through their bodies and through direct experience.”

– Jennifer Cohen Harper, founder of Little Flower Yoga and The School Yoga Project

Click here to read more of Jennifer’s thoughts on how parents and teachers can help kids to integrate daily yoga and mindfulness practices into their lives.

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Want to learn more? Check out Jennifer’s newly released book, Little Flower Yoga For Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance. Written for parents and kids, and also very helpful for teachers. the book outlines simple yoga exercises that help children learn to pay attention, balance their emotions, and improve their physical fitness. Click here to download a sample chapter.

Danielle Ancin: Peace and Justice for Urban Youth Through Yoga

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Niroga Institute program manager Danielle Ancin for The Huffington Post Blog about why it’s critical to give students and families tools like yoga and mindfulness to manage stress and heal from trauma.

“For the past few years we’ve been conducting day-long yoga retreats with incarcerated youth within juvenile hall. A lot of the participants are young men who are waiting to be sent to an adult detention facility to finish their sentences, so they especially need tools to help them cope. My most memorable moments have taken place during these retreats, when emotional walls come down and the youth share their experiences and stories, comfort each other, and laugh so hard they can’t stand up.”

– Danielle Ancin, co-developer of Niroga Institute’s Transformative Life Skills Curriculum

Click here to read more of Danielle’s advice for teachers working with at-risk youth, and why the yoga service community should get involved in addressing social inequalities.

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Do you want to bring the transformational power of yoga and meditation to underserved populations? Join Give Back Yoga at the Sedona Yoga Festival in February for a two-day Mindful Therapeutic Yoga Practices for Veterans pre-conference training that provides yoga teachers with clinically-proven techniques to help students recover from trauma and emotional stress.

Don Wenig: Teaching Children To Find Inner Peace and Stillness

Executive Director Rob Schware catches up with YogaKids International and Go Give Yoga Foundation co-founder Don Wenig for The Huffington Post Blog to learn how yoga for children has evolved over the last three decades, and why it remains an important mission.

“Yoga helps prepare kids for life. Strength, balance, focus and mindfulness, all lead to the understanding and expression of ones inner self.  Yoga for kids is self-empowering. Becoming more peaceful, more attuned to others and appreciative of nature is all spiritual to me. We teach gratitude, awareness, creativity and that life is filled with spirit as much as we teach stretching and breathing.”

– Don Wenig, co-founder of YogaKids International and the non-profit Go Give Yoga Foundation

Click here to read more of Don’s comments on how yoga helps children stay happy and healthy, and how the latest YogaKids project will help to engage little learners.

Photo courtesy of Go Give Yoga Foundation.

Peg Oliveira: Yoga & the Importance of Play in Schools

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with 108 Monkeys founder Peg Oliveira for The Huffington Post Blog on how yoga helps to de-stress kids in the classroom and thus reduce classroom and child care expulsion rates.

“In one New Haven public preschool of 20 vibrant 3-year-olds, (I) asked all 20 kids to lie in a circle on their backs and “be still logs.” I then had each child, one at time, step carefully over each “log”….a teacher jumped up and asked if she should start another child around the circle, so it wouldn’t take so much time and the children would not be expected to lie still for a time longer than she believed they were able. I encouraged her to sit, breathe, and trust in the children. They performed the mindful exercise with grace and calm. I knew, at that moment, this stuff works.”

108 Monkeys founder Peg Olieveira, whose organization mobilizes teams of volunteers to help teachers bring play-based yoga into classrooms

Read Peg’s full interview here.

Michelle Mitchell: How Yoga Helps At-Risk Children To Self-Regulate

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with YoKid co-founder Michelle Mitchell for The Huffington Post Blog about the true purpose of school yoga, and how YoKid classes are helping at-risk students to relax and concentrate.

“(Spirituality) is not something that we talk about or is even relevant for participation in the yoga class. There’s the overarching goal, which is to get the kids to settle their minds into stillness. I’ve learned to provide an opportunity for that in every class. I try to tire out their bodies physically so they are comfortable being still at the end of class. If they fall into a meditative state, the environment is there to support that. If they are just quiet and resting, the environment of the class is able to support that, too.”

– Michelle Mitchell, co-founder of YoKid, a non-profit organization that serves at-risk and underserved children in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Read Michelle’s full interview here.

Kimberly Moon on Serving At-Risk Youth at Home and Abroad

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Caribbean Yoga Conference founder Kimberly Moon for The Huffington Post Blog on her experiences in bringing yoga to at-risk youth, from teaching students in the Massachusetts public school system to working with yoga scholarship recipients on Jamaican beaches.

“When I step onto the mat to teach, I always embed mind-body interconnectivity into the experience of the class. I typically address the impact every action has on other aspects of our body and being…every action causes a ripple effect, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. Understanding cause and effect and what makes each one of us ‘tick’ and what soothes each of us, something totally unique to every person, is key for understanding how one can have the most desirable impact on others we come in contact with.”

– Kimberly Moon, founder of the Caribbean Yoga Conference

Read Kimberly’s full interview here.

BK Bose on How Yoga Can Stop The School-To-Prison Pipeline

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Niroga Institute founder BK Bose for The Huffington Post on how teaching inner city students Transformative Life Skills – mindful yoga, breathing techniques and meditation – can help them to break the cycle of stress, lack of self-control and academic failure.

“We see instances of transformation every day in our direct service programs in the community. When a young man is able to let down his armor of hyper-vigilance, when a young woman in a homeless shelter says that her constant emotional pain is eased through the practice, when opposing gang members are able to close their eyes and relax beside each other at the end of a practice session, when a high-risk teen graduates from an alternative high school and joins our teacher training program so that she can help pull her friends out of the quicksand of hopelessness, we consider these victories bread for our journey.”

– BK Bose, Niroga Institute founder

Read BK’s full interview here.

Nancy Candea on Serving Diverse Populations

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with Nancy Candea for The Huffington Post Blog on her experiences in serving marginalized populations ranging from incarcerated women to at-risk youth.

“In my youth, I used drugs and food addictions to deal with the tough emotions of growing up in a family where physical and emotional abuse were a norm and, well — that is the easier stuff to talk about. I also experienced some domestic violence in my adult life, and it feels like my yoga practice literally carried me at a time when I needed great courage to make changes in our lives. That has inspired me to do the outreach work that I do.”

– Nancy Candea, founder of the Yoga Impact teacher mentoring program and training director of the Kula for Karma yoga service organization

Read Nancy’s full interview.

Lauren Rubenstein on Serving Children in Haiti

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with clinical psychologist and yoga therapist Dr. Lauren Rubenstein for The Huffington Post Blog on the joys and challenges of bringing yoga to impoverished Haitian children.

“(A) Haitian social worker joined the team meeting on our last night. He said he had been watching us interact with the children all week, and saw that ours was ‘no small work.’ He witnessed the connections we made and explained how little adult attention these kids get, with their parents out all day looking for work or a meal. He felt that the kids were benefiting ‘in their mind, their bodies and their hearts.’

– Dr. Lauren Rubenstein, recalling her second trip to Haiti with YogaKids’ Bridge of Diamonds program

Read the full interview here.

Dee Marie on How Yoga Can Stop Bullying in Schools

Executive Director Rob Schware talks with certified yoga instructor Dee Marie for The Huffington Post Blog on how her Calming Kids: Creating a Non-Violent World program is making a measurable difference in giving students the tools they need to manage anger and stress.

“With the constant advancement in technology, kids and teens are continually bombarded with external stimuli. But their communication skills are often lacking, self-awareness is difficult, and relaxation/centering techniques are nonexistent…yoga is an enjoyable way to learn self-reflection, introspection, and relaxation, which most children greatly appreciate. It helps them to counterbalance their reaction to the busy world they live in.”

-Dee Marie, founder of the Calming Kids program, which trains youth providers and children nationally

Read Dee’s full interview here.