What is Yoga Calm?

With the rise of mental health diagnoses, over-scheduling, lack of sleep, poor diet and exercise habits, both children and adults alike are stressed and less able to cope with life’s demands. To counter the impact of today’s high-stress, fast-paced world, Yoga Calm®, founded by Jim and Lynea Gillen, is an integrated approach to wellness curriculum used in schools, hospitals and community-based settings.

Offered through a series of highly interactive workshops, An Integrated Approach to Wellness training provides participants with the Tools and Principles to immediately implement practical, research-based interventions into learning and therapeutic environments. Yoga Calm is guided by Five Principles: Stillness, Listening, Strength, Grounding and Community. yogacalm.org

Benefits of Yoga Calm

  • Promotes mindfulness, physical activity and social/emotional skill development
  • Improves self-regulation and relaxation skills
  • Improves subject retention and test scores through greater focus and concentration
  • Increases self-confidence and self-esteem, enhancing communication, trust, empathy, teamwork and leadership skills
  • Develops the ability to make healthy life choices to create lifelong wellness habits

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.

DISTRESSED BODY → CORTISOL RELEASE → FIGHT/FLIGHT/FREEZE RESPONSE

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

CALM BREATHING → RELAXED BODY → OPTIMAL BRAIN FUNCTION

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 (casel.org).

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.

Mindfullness

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.

Schools & Hospitals

In the last ten years over 20,000 educators and related service providers have been trained in Yoga Calm techniques benefiting an estimated 140,000 children per day. Results include the following:

  • 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 HS 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

Raymond Yu, Elementary School Principal

Carla Olson, UMN Amplatz Children’s Hospital

Minnesota schools currently participating in Yoga Calm

Anoka

  • Anoka Public Schools

Bloomington

  • Oak Grove Elementary*

Centennial Lakes

  • Kids Club: before/after school

Columbia Heights

Cottage Grove

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan

  • Black Hawk Middle School
  • Cedar Park
  • Dakota Ridge
  • Dakota Middle School
  • Diamond Path School of International Studies
  • Echo Park
  • Falcon Ridge
  • Glacier Hills
  • Parkview
  • Rosemount Middle School
  • Westview
  • Southview Elementary

Edina

  • Countryside Elementary

Hopkins

  • Eisenhower Elementary*
  • Tanglen Elementary

Inver Grove Heights

  • Hilltop Elementary*
  • Pine Bend Elementary*

Lakeville

  • Christina Huddleston Elementary
  • Special educators and support staff

Mendota Heights

  • Garlough Elementary

Minneapolis

  • Brightwater Montessori
  • Jefferson – K-8*
  • Kenny
  • Lake Harriet*
  • Lucy Laney
  • MERC Alternative High School
  • Minneapolis Jewish Day School
  • Nellie Stone*
  • Sheridan
  • Southwest High School
  • Washburn High School
  • Whittier

Osseo

  • Fair Oaks
  • Garden City
  • Fernbrook Elementary

Richfield Public Schools*

  • Richfield Dual Language School*
  • Sheridan*
  • Centennial*

School Social Workers, Counselors, Psychologists

  • Bloomington Public Schools
  • DesMoines
  • District 196
  • Eden Prairie
  • Minneapolis Public Schools
  • Osseo
  • St. Cloud
  • St. Paul Public Schools*

South Washington County

  • Hillside Elementary
  • Forest Lake
  • Oltman Middle School

St. Anthony/New Brighton

  • St. Anthony Park Elementary
  • Lakes International Language Academy
  • Parks Spanish Immersion
  • Wilshire Elementary

St. Louis Park

  • Aquila
  • Park Spanish-Emersion School
  • Peter Hobert Elementary

St. Paul

  • K-12- OT/PT/DAPE/Music Therapy
  • K-12 Paraprofessionals
  • K-12 Phys. Ed.*
  • K-12 School Nurses*
  • Physical Education Teachers*
  • Adams Spanish Immersion School
  • Battle Creek*
  • Capitol Hill
  • Cherokee Heights Elementary
  • Discovery Clubs (before/after school programs)
  • Farnsworth
  • Four Seasons A+ Elementary*
  • Frost Lake
  • Groveland Elementary
  • Highland Catholic
  • Highland Middle School
  • Horace Mann Elementary School
  • JJ Hill Montessori*
  • Journeys Secondary School
  • Linwood/Monroe*
  • Linwood Pre-K/ECSE
  • Nativity
  • Ramsey Middle School
  • Randolph Heights
  • RiverEast*
  • St. Thomas More
  • The LAB
  • Wellstone Elementary

Stillwater

  • Lake Elmo Elementary

Visitation

White Bear ALC

Woodbury

District-Wide Initiatives

  • Anoka
  • Columbia Heights
  • Elk River
  • ISD 287
  • Minneapolis Public Schools
  • Red Lake School District
  • Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan
  • St. Paul Public Schools

* = SHIP Grant Recipient

Hospitals participating in Yoga Calm

  • CHUCC Clinic
  • Fairview Recovery Services: Day Outpatient Program
  • Gerard Academy
  • Mayo Clinic Psychiatric Unit
  • Prairie Care
  • University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

States participating in Yoga Calm

  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin