Barriers to Learning and Well-Being

  • Declining Physical Activity

  • Violent / overstimulating media

  • Over scheduling

  • High-fat, hight-calorie diets

  • Reduced parent time/changing family structure

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Increasing academic expectations

Research studies confirm short-and long-term memory are compromised by stress and anxiety.

When there is a perceived threat or stressor in the environment, the body moves into hight alert – fight, flight or freeze mode and often presents as explosive, anxious, and/or inattentive behavior.


When stress occurs, if you are able to slow breathing within 10 minutes, cortisol levels will decrease. Rather than talking or reasoning, breathing techniques and yoga-based movement are the first line of intervention to use when children and teens are deregulated.

Healthy Breathing Technique: Hoberman Sphere


Relaxed breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body. This physically changes the brain’s neural pathways. Breathing techniques, yoga-based movement, mindfulness and guided relaxation, create a “relaxed-alert” state optimal for learning.

Social/Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing social and emotional skills in the context of safe, caring, well managed and engaging learning environments (

Skills include:

  • Recognizing and managing emotions, strengths, and limitations
  • Demonstrating empathy, care and respect for others
  • Developing positive relationships to work in teams and deal with conflict
  • Decision making
  • Behaving responsibly and ethically

How does Yoga Calm integrate SEL?

One of the unique attributes of the Yoga Calm approach is its integration of social and emotional skills with physical activities. Highly experiential, its activities create teachable moments that help children learn how to recognize, process, manage and respond appropriately to life’s challenges. Skills in self-awareness, self-discipline and empathy are at the heart of all learning and of primary importance in long-term happiness and health. It is in this context that academic and intellectual growth will flourish.


Reflection is at the heart of learning. Teaching mindfulness techniques to students creates skills of paying attention and focusing. This skill development gives students the ability to stay focused and on task. It also allows them to listen at a deeper level to themselves and others. Taking time each day to intentionally “do nothing” allows the brain to re-charge. It gives us a sense that we are enough in this moment.

Mindfulness according to Jon Kabat-Zinn means, “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” When we pay attention in a mindful way, experiencing the present moment, this creates a physiological change in the body, which impacts the way we think and how we relate to others. Reflection can be the fourth “R” of education.

Our personal wellness effects our ability to connect with our students and families. How we arrive as educators with a sense of engagement and mindfulness will directly activate those states in our students and families. When offer our essence as people – not just in the capacity to impart knowledge, we build a connection, we inspire our students to learn. We communicate that the students matter and there is a shared responsibility in learning.

Reflection and mindfulness activities facilitates in the student an awareness and understanding of one’s own thinking process, something students need in order to have truly learned.

Yoga Research

In the last eight years over 6,000 educators and related service providers have been trained in Yoga Calm techniques benefiting an estimated 35,000 children per school day. Results include:

  • Boost in attendance rates
  • Increase time on task – specifically reading time
  • Decrease behavioral referrals and thereby time out of the classroom
  • Improve feelings of community – #1 predictor of High School graduation (Search Institute)
  • Improve auditory comprehension in students
  • Ability to transition between classes more effectively
  • More quickly exhibit on task behavior
  • Improve ability to demonstrate reflection in writing
  • Lower classroom volume by 21db leading to less teacher redirection
  • Improve direction following, imitation, and choice making in early childhood after calming activities
  • 100% awareness in students on how to self-calm in 4th Grade classroom

—Action Based Research, MPLS Public Schools, 2007.
Evidence of needs met among students using Yoga Calm techniques.