Month: March 2015

Yoga and Eating Disorders

Yoga and Eating Disorders

Laura Mifflin dance instructor & choreographer


by: Laura Mifflin, Dance Instructor and Choreographer



I believe that practicing yoga can be a form of positive treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders.

This paper takes a look at the problem of eating disorders, and makes an investigation into whether or not yoga can be used as a suitable treatment to add some positive outcome or added benefits to those suffering from eating disorders.  With millions of individuals suffering from such disorders, there are several practices and treatments being explored currently which can potentially help them.  One new outlook on treatment is through the practicing of yoga.  Specifically, the practice of asanas, integration of the body and mind, elevated spirit, relaxation, lessened focus on body image or appearance, and more.  The findings reveal that yoga practices do have beneficial impacts on suffering individuals, however, it cannot be stated that yoga is a complete cure-all.  The complexity of eating disorders in general, even when combined with yoga practices, will not provide us with a complete solution to this unfortunate condition.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see a healthy eighteen-year-old girl who is in shape, and who has confidence in herself.  I am happy with my body image and I can proudly say that I am comfortable in my own skin.  I believe in myself and I rarely find myself struggling with self-esteem issues.  Personally, I do things in life that please me; I dance, because it enables me to lose myself, and find myself at the same time; I wear over-sized, baggy, cozy clothing because it is comfortable; I run because it is where I can find bliss; I don’t put effort into my hair and makeup because I am not phased by how I look; I eat food because it is a necessity, and because it is tasty; I care for others, because whenever I can help someone, it cheers me up.  As well, yoga is an activity I have involved myself with at times, for the added benefits of relaxation and flexibility.  To me, yoga is just a healthy practice that I do for enjoyment and it is a learning opportunity to get involved in.

As I go on living my life in this way, I am almost blindsided by the fact that there are individuals out there who are struggling from eating disorders.  What about those people who look at themselves in the mirror and don’t approve of how they look?  What happens to them?  Sadly, in most cases, these individuals end up suffering from an eating disorder, such as anorexia, impulsive eating, or bulimia nervosa.  These disorders are serious issues, and cannot be overlooked.  If you do not personally know an individual suffering from an eating disorder, don’t think that there aren’t individuals suffering from the over-evaluation of their physical form, because there are.  In fact, more than five million Americans; the majority being female, are currently suffering from mental disturbances like eating disorders and body image.  This type of behavior not only has negative physical effects, but also adverse emotional and mental effects on an individual.

In most cases, when an individual is suffering from an eating disorder, especially if they are suffering from a disorder such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa, side effects can include weight loss, pale skin, low energy, fragile nails, thin hair, and several other characteristics which are visibly noticeable.  However, the nature of eating disorders are such that their side effects are not always fully visible.  There are things which we can not always see on the exterior, and there are many more issues which are not visible to the naked eye.  A study done by Laura Douglas even stated, “Virtually every bodily function and organ is afflicted by the disorder”.  This statement proves just how serious and lethal these types of disorders can be.  The effects of abnormal eating that occur on those with disordered eating are negative.  There are so many aspects of the individual that are affected in such a destructive manner.

Which trait really defines someone suffering from an eating disorder?  The answer is sadness.  Sadness is the most dominant trait associated with a suffering individual, but it can also manifest itself in such manners as depression, self-mutilation, and even suicide.  Preventative programs, techniques, and therapies are all ideas that are being implemented and studied in relation to these serious issues.  As a matter of fact, there are studies being performed currently which explore how yoga and spirituality relate to factors that influence those who have eating disorders and body dissatisfaction.  Is it possible that simply engaging individuals in an activity such as yoga can help to improve the mindset of those with eating disorders?

I believe that the use of yoga practices can a form of positive treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders.  If you are a struggling with these kinds of disorders, you are an individual who is suffering with issues between the body and the mind.  What can be the most difficult issue with these disorders is that one may not actually comprehend or believe that they are a victim to a disorder.  One may constantly be under the impression that they are not at a healthy weight, or they are striving for an ideal image, which is truly unattainable.  However, whether an individual is aware and accepting of their disorder or not, there is still a main concept behind how they all feel.  The commonality that I find with eating disorders is the dissatisfaction that an individual faces with him or herself.  It can be said that the body of an eating disorder sufferer is viewed like an ornament.  This ornament involves the suffering from a disconnection from the body, appetites, feelings, and inner experiences.  This is where I find yoga can come into play.  The outcome of yoga was designed to achieve a link between the well being and inner peace of a person, with their overall physical and mental health.  Health and wellness is quite a broad topic is not a simple thing to fully understand or control, and it must be a difficult task to positively change your ways, if they are already quite negative.  However, we cannot give up on the idea that there are philosophies and perspectives that we can take and try to influence positive changes.

There is a perspective offered by a yogic philosophy that joins the dualistic split between mind and body or a spiritual crisis, and it provides methodology for the unification of the body, spirit, and mind.  I find that if there is balance between these three aspects of an individual, there is a sense of well being and balance.  It is once one of these aspects is thrown off, that issues tend to arise, such as an eating disorder or other troublesome issues.  To ensure that all aspects of self are always working properly with one another, there are asanas that can be used in this yoga practice.  These asanas include physical postures, where inward focus done by the individual enables him or herself to experience their true self or soul.  Through finding your true self or soul, an individual would be going through a self-discovery process.  This process would involve a lot of attention being given to self-observation.  The hopes of this self-observation and looking inwardly in such a peaceful way is that an individual would be able to really view what it is that gives them the dissatisfaction they hold for themselves and let go of that negativity.  The factors that can be found in a healthy yoga regimen include positive body awareness, body responsiveness, intuitive eating, and overall body satisfaction.

In fact, there was a group study performed in 2006 that set out to see if there were any correlations between body mass index, drive for thinness, and body dissatisfaction as well as taking into consideration media influences.  After examination, tests, and constant practice of yoga, the findings were noted that there is a positive correlation between body mass index and drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, and the results also stated that the yoga preventative program was overall quite efficacious.  I believe that the success of this program is due to the fact that yoga is not a program focusing on how one looks, but rather on how one feels.  It is a treatment of the spirit, as well as the body.  When practicing yoga, you will notice that your body is able to feel sensations never once thought of as possible, and you will discover that you are able to put yourself in a place and in positions that may once have been impossible for you.  Relaxing and breathing into poses and postures personally allows me to enjoy the placement and test my limits.  Pushing the body to a safe but challenging position gives us some satisfaction.  I believe that eating disorder sufferers who involve themselves in yoga, beginning at a moderate pace, would be able to let go of the dissatisfaction they also tie to their bodies, and actually allow for more self-approval.  If satisfaction can be given to an individual, they may also be able to lose that drive for unnecessary thinness, and focus on accepting their body.

As we keep discovering different aspects of yoga as it relates to eating disorders, we see how the idea of improving the wellness of those suffering from an eating disorder is not simple, and the improvement process is no easy task.  Yoga is not a practice that is set in stone, since it is always changing, and there are multiple views on techniques and philosophies that should be used.  As mentioned earlier, there is a yogic practice involving asanas that may be used, and another idea that can be used it that yoga has the potential to provide an individual with relaxation.

According to the study done by Boudette in 2006, yoga contributes to the recovery process of individuals suffering from eating disorders because yoga is able to introduce relaxation to their consciousness, which is often a newly found sensation in this circumstance.  Boudette reports that, “the combination of yoga postures (asanas), followed by relaxation (savasana) creates a deep sense of peace and freedom they have never before experienced.  The hope of this relaxing feeling is that it will be a new sensation that the body will be involved with, and hopefully enjoy.  The relaxation will try to let the body of the eating disorder sufferer reach a new level of enjoyment with respect to how it feels.  With the focus being on the feeling of the body, attention has now been redirected away from how the body looks, which tends to be the primarily and perhaps the only focus of the eating disorder sufferer.  Once that focus is shifted away from how one thinks about their physical appearance, the individual suffering from the eating disorder will have some relief.  The pressure to look a certain way, which has been impressed upon them from our culture’s media, or where ever it came from, and the stress of modeling him or herself into this body type will hopefully then be reduced.  I feel that this relief would show the overworked mind of the sufferer some much needed peace.  With the mind at rest, and the body under less stress, the two should be able to find a better connection and become more stable, if a positive routine is established and reinforced.

One concern that should be mentioned in regards to using yoga as a suitable treatment for eating disorders is that some consider yoga to be a form of exercise.  The issue here with yoga being a form of exercise is that individuals suffering from eating disorders have risks associated with combining exercise and abnormal eating.  It is reported that: “Vigorous exercise can be a means of weight loss or one of several tactics used by the individual to counteract the ingestion of excess calories or deal with body image concerns.  […] terror of being fat can cause some individuals to fall into the trap of excessively exercising while still falling short of the “perfect body”.  Falling into the trap of too much exercise is risky.  If yoga practice were to become the treatment for the patient, I would suggest an easy, controlled yoga class, with constant supervision by the yoga instructor.  This way, it can be ensured that an individual does not take this treatment too far, or cause bodily harm.”

The danger of disordered eating is so dominant to some individuals that any treatment needs to be used with caution.  Disordered eating is a habit which some develop, which cannot be easily escaped from.  Individuals suffering from disordered eating are constantly under a struggle and they are constantly running away from themselves and their happiness and satisfaction.  Once personally affected either directly or indirectly by eating disorders, you should understand that there is one source of recovery out there for this serious condition; that being yoga .  Sufferers of eating disorders have been known to say, “I felt like I was falling from the sky. […] After a period of being healthy, I felt sick again”, “Always talking about being sick, sick, sick”, are words that should not need to be expressed by anyone.  Disordered eating is a sickness, and we are in search of the cure, using various methods which we can only hope will be effective, and so we must continue to study these methods if we are to help those who are suffering. We can try, and believe, and practice yoga and preach its many benefits, and see how it positively benefits those individuals who are struggling from eating disorders.  As yoga as a practice continues to develop and be a source of inspiration and assistance to more people, we must make sure that it can also help the people who could really use its benefits the most.  If we can give body satisfaction and self-contentment to everyone, why wouldn’t we?  Let us all practice: living, laughing, loving ourselves, breathing, exercising, and healthy eating.


Sources Cited:

Boudette, R. (2006).  Question & answer: yoga in the treatment of disordered eating and body image disturbance.  How can the practice of yoga be helpful in recovery from eating disorders?  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention.  14.  167-170.

Dittmann, K., Freedman, M. (2009).  Body awareness, eating attitudes, and spiritual beliefs of women practicing yoga.  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention. 17.  273-292.

Douglass, L. (2009).  Yoga as an intervention in the treatment of eating disorders: does it help?  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention.  17.  126-139.

Giordano, S. (2010).  Exercise and eating disorder: an ethical and legal analysis.  Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Ronon, T., Ayelet. (2001).  In and out of anorexia: the story of the client, the therapist, and the process of recovery.  United Kingdom: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.

Scime, M., Cook-Cottone, C., Kane, L., Watson, T. (2006).  Group prevention of eating disorders with fifth-grade females: impact on body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and media influence.  Eating disorders: the journal of treatment & prevention.  14.  143-155.

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The Benefits Of Yoga For Basketball

The Benefits Of Yoga For Basketball

by: Nick Lau

This research article looks to answer the questions about yoga, and the benefits it provides to basketball players.  Whether its injury prevention or more dynamic plays based on flexibility, this article will look for the answer.  The article will use perspectives of current players such as LeBron James, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love, as well as former stars, such as Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal, and their experience of yoga and why they participated in the art for most, if not their entire career.

LeBron James doing yoga

Throughout my life I’ve always been the tallest, whether it was hockey, volleyball, soccer, and even basketball, not one person has come close to my height.  However, even though people always said, “how cool it would be to be your size,” no one realized that at some points, its actually very hard to do the activities you love, at the height of six foot seven.  Challenges arise from every corner in athletics, especially in basketball, at this height.  Major difficulties that I have encountered myself are: flexibility, balance, and basic muscle injuries.  Basketball players have always wondered if there is something “we as a whole” can do to keep our bodies in the best shape possible, to perform at elite levels, and that answer was yoga.

LeBron practicing yoga

When dealing with basketball players, it is very noticeable to see the lack of flexibility in everyone, but especially post players.  Kevin Love and Blake Griffin use yoga to gain range in their lower body.  This allows them to extend and reach more with their legs during a spin move, or a drop step.  The goal of these moves is to gain separation from your defender, and with the help of yoga, both of these players gain maximum range in their legs to wrap around their defenders and, in turn, become more explosive off the block by getting lower; this leads to scoring more easily.

blake griffin yoga

Not only does being more flexible help gain an edge in the post, it also allows these two young superstars’ muscles to be loose and relaxed going into a game.  Blake Griffin states, “For me, flexibility is huge, staying loose and healthy and staying limber — you can tell a difference when your muscles are tight, or when you’re stretched out and completely relaxed.”

In addition, Kevin Love’s instructor Kent Katich reinforces the fact of flexibility helping in the low post, “ poses like airplane give him length on drop steps so he can get by a guy on the court.”  With these two NBA stars promoting yoga and how it has helped with their flexibility, there should be no more questions about the benefits of flexibility in basketball through yoga.  The benefits of flexibility in basketball with the practice of yoga are extraordinary, and these NBA stars have proven it.  However, flexibility is not the only benefit that comes with the practice of yoga.  Balance is a key aspect also in basketball.

Balance in basketball is very different from any other sport.  In hockey, balance is being able to have a low center of gravity and stay strong on one skate.  In volleyball, its staying low and being ready for an attack from the other team.  However, this is not the case with basketball.  In basketball, balance takes on a whole new definition.  Its getting low when playing defense and offense in the low block.  Its having the mindset to not rush anything, taking time to make a move, and thinking about the right decision.  Next to that, balance in basketball is about exhibiting the three C’s; being calm, cool, and collected.

Yoga allows for the practice of a patient mindset.  Yoga involves taking breaths and just relaxing.  This is very helpful, according to Kevin Garnett, who plays most of the game with his back to the basket and needs those couple of breaths to think of what he wants to do next.

kevin garnett yogaKevin, who does Astanga yoga, says: “Yoga helps me calm down and helps me center my energy so I’m balanced instead of going out there and just spreading my energy all over the court.  I’m zeroes in on the game and have my mind set on what I need to do.”  Kevin Garnett is one of the oldest NBA players, and he is also one of the best to ever play the game.  By participating in yoga, Garnett has been able to extend his career int he NBA over the past seventeen years; and throughout those seventeen years, his mindset and his work ethic have been said to be the best of all time.

When Garnett plays, his balance/mindset is very evident, and he attributes it to doing yoga on a daily basis.  Injuries in the sport of basketball are almost as common as stubbing a toe, or cooking dinner.  Because injuries happen so often, players have tried many things to help strengthen and prevent them, and one of the best solutions is yoga.

The most prevalent injury in basketball is a sprained ankle, says Kent Katich, “Basketball players also have a tendency to roll their ankles a lot.  Repetitive spraining of the ankle starts to harden the muscle that surrounds the ankle.”  Yoga allows for the strengthening of the smaller muscles that don’t get used often.  Basketball players tend to wear shoes due to the nature of the sport.

yoga barefootHowever, when doing yoga, shoes and socks come off, which allows for those small muscles to activate around the ankle and become stronger.  According to Katich, taking the shoes off is harder than it looks: “Getting these guys barefoot is an accomplishment, because they start having to work with these smaller muscles they never really deal with, because their ankles are always taped, and they’re wearing shoes.  You’re able to start to identify some of the deficiencies and imbalances that come with overload of certain workouts.”

downward dog yoga man stretch back

This really allows players who jump and exert pressure all the time on their ankles, which is a break in a sense, because the ankle is stronger and will hold up better over a long season of playing, instead of watching from the press box.  Another common injury is in basketball is back problems.  This is because everyone is so tall, and never took the time to strengthen the small muscles in the back, which help with support; players also did not take the time to stretch and let the back become more flexible, which will lead to fewer injuries.

LeBron James says, “I had some lower back problems a few years ago and once I started to do yoga, it has helped them go away for now.  Of course, we can stretch, but stretching only goes so far.”  A great example of the benefit of yoga for injury prevention came in March of 2009 for LeBron James.  This is when he took a very awkward fall on to his neck and shoulder.  To any other player this could have been a devastating injury.  However, LeBron attributes the fact that he was not injured to yoga; due to the awkward positions he is put into when doing yoga, the muscles are strengthened, preventing a major neck injury from happening.  This demonstrates how important yoga can be to preventing not only common injuries, but also fluke ones as well.

With the challenges that arise every day in sport, yoga has led to solutions on how to correct the issues.  By partaking in yoga, it is easy to stretch out muscles and become more flexible.  Calming oneself is a major aspect of yoga, and it indeed helps with basketball, and staying calm under pressure.  The overall importance of yoga is to help prevent injuries, and with all the technical aspects of yoga, it is very easy for basketball players to become more resistant to injuries.  They are able to strengthen muscles that have never been focused on before, especially in their feet.  In saying this, there is no doubt that by participating in yoga, basketball players benefit immensely from it, and by doing so, extend their careers as long as possible.

Works Cited

“The Best Yoga for Athletes” LIVESTRONG.COM N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2012.  Click here to read the article.

“Combine Basketball and Yoga Moves” Men’s Fitness.  N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.  Click here to read the article.

McDowell, Dimity.  “Yoga for Basketball.”  Yoga Journal.  N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2012 Click here to read the article.

NBA Players Finding Benefits In Yoga.  IHoops.  N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2012.

Shin, Laura.  Awakened Athlete.  N.p.: n.p., n.d.  Google Books.  Web. 15 Nov. 2012

UCLA Basketball Star: Yoga Makes Me Better.  MindBodyGreen.  N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Nov. 2012.  Click here to read the article.

Yogic Breathing Exercises for Basketball.  LIVESTRONG.COM.  N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.  Click here to read the article.

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Libido & Partner Yoga

Denise small pic


by: Denise-Davis Gains, Atlas Studio Owner



Looking to improve your relationship?  There is nothing like partner yoga to hold a mirror up to relationship challenges.  In one of my 1st partner yoga classes I remember the instructor asking us to sit back to back and breath.  I wiggled, he squirmed, and we settled into a position that we could tolerate.  All the while I am thinking, “I wish he would relax and then I could relax.”  I was tense and trying to be supportive, but felt somewhat disconnected.

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge

Those of you who are savvy to the psychobabble of relationship therapy know that I was exhibiting classic enabling behavior.  “If you are ok, I am ok.”  That may not be your particular relationship poison but it was mine.   This exercise was a big ‘ah ha’ moment for me.  When integrating this particular activity the teacher guided us through an exploration of felt senses and an awareness of relationship connections.

Given the space and guidance to discover how I was feeling, a profound realization came over me as I recognized how I was doing this same thing in many of my primary relationships.

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge


Great benefits can be found in the simple, personal practice of yoga.  Just becoming aware of self and how you feel can deeply affect the ability to communicate love and our personal needs to our life partners, our children and our closest friends.  We can wake up to the relationships that are nurturing and begin to recognize those that are zapping us of essential life energy, potentially bringing more love to both.  Yoga can create an awareness of space, between each breath, between the incessant thoughts of the mind and between polar opposites of feeling and expression.

How is this possible?  Yoga invites us to practice waking up, becoming conscious.


This ancient practice encourages responding to the world and not reacting to it and gives us the tools to accomplish this astonishingly complex task. Less anger and resentment can
lead to more love and compassion.

Can yoga improve your libido (sex drive)?

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge


The practice of yoga asanas, postures or exercises, move the body in such a way as to stimulate the endocrine system.  This is the system of glands and hormones and is
involved in the way we respond to the world.

Balanced hormonal secretion will help to keep the nerve endings coated in the special formulas that ensure that we feel warm and fuzzy as opposed to anxious and distracted.  Sex is much more likely to happen when we are feeling relaxed and safe.



Pranayama or breathing exercises stimulate the elixir of happiness and contentment.  By
encouraging the movement of the intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs) the
endocrine system is stimulated.  More good happy drugs enter the system like, endorphins and we feel good.  Many activities can do this, yoga just does it consciously.

partner yoga atlas studio cambridge



Couples who practice yoga together report that they feel more connected to themselves and each other.  If you have been feeling disconnected from your partner find a teacher that you can both relate to and get on the mat together.  You might find that you are experiencing more intimacy very soon. Maybe we could also agree that seeing our guy or girl in hot yoga pants certainly doesn’t hurt!


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Ayurveda Resource Page

What we know about ayurveda we have learned from Matthew Remski and the sources that he has pointed us to.  Any awareness that I had before meeting Remski has been tainted by his broad and informed viewpoint.

matthew remski

Matthew suggests that the

“best evidence shows that the holy trinity of preventative and supportive health consists of proper diet, adequate exercise, and stress reduction. ayurveda focuses on how these three can speak most efficiently through the medium of a person’s constitution. Constitution cannot be concretely defined, but gleaned from the holistic analysis of physique, drives, social context, development, and emotional and mental patterning. Assessing what a person needs begins with beginning to understand who a person is and is becoming.”

In contemplating the usefulness of the ayurvedic body of knowledge Matthew suggests that “stress reduction is the broadest category.” Ayurveda addresses all stressful relationships: to food, to time, to family, to culture, to technology, to the earth, to one’s self-narrative.


Matthew goes on to explain that

“underneath the technique, ayurveda performs the important function of speaking to a recently-buried layer of consciousness. Its lore arises from the majority experience of our history: the hundreds of millennia prior to books and science, when we relied on intuition, mythology, and dreams to forge connection of balance and meaning.”

Ayurveda reminds the postmodern person of a time when her internal climate mirrored her external climate in a language she could intuit and add to. A time when she was, in a word, possessed by nature and its evident rhythms. This experience is still within us, but is now starved for attention. Ayurveda treats the ancient person within.

As for yoga — it occurs whenever the wounds of consciousness provoke conscious action. Today, yoga is primarily a mode of re-embodiment. Expressed through whatever tools work, yoga is the will to reveal our latent inter-subjectivity, and to sense our shared flesh — to use the term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty — with the world.

When Matthew Remski teaches Ayurveda, he begins with the following reduction:

Ayurveda in 7 steps

  1. Each person is two: a conscious part prone to alienation from self, other, and world, but also gifted with integrative capacities; a perceptual part, autonomically attuned to time and the environment, already and naturally resourceful and supported.
  2. The latter is a unique combination of elemental qualities and movement patterns we may call “constitution”. It is the basis of the former.
  3. Constitution can harmonize or clash with its natural and social environment, whether by conscious choice or by circumstance.
  4. Inattention to sensual feedback, internal rhythms and environmental changes prematurely weakens first vitality, and then immunity.
  5. As immunity weakens, the natural strengths of structure, metabolism, and coordination express their shadows: congestion, inflammation, and disorganization.
  6. Good digestion is the root of somatic and psychic health.

Pleasure and equanimity are its flowers.

matthew remski ayurveda teacher

Matthew Remski teaches a Ayurveda workshop for Atlas Studio.  Find out more here!


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There’s “Exercise” And Then There’s “Movement”

Amanda Raynor Human v2.0

by: Amanda Raynor, BEd.

Mobility Expert, Co-owner/manager at Human 2.0/writer/educator/community builder/furniture re-arranger

It’s all over the news these days: sitting for extended periods of time is bad for you. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in January of this year – Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk For Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization In Adults: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis (click here to read more) – has really gotten people talking…

The scariest bit of information to come out of this is the fact that even an hour of exercising a day isn’t going to do you much good if you are still sitting the rest of the time. So many of us thought that going to the gym before or after work meant that we’d be healthy.  Nope.

The question now becomes, what can we do to change this? Our lives are so dependent on computers, cars, etc. It’s going to be tough, but we MUST figure out how to incorporate more movement into our daily routines.

The good news is, the little things count.

You may or may not have heard of the term “NEAT”. It stands for “non exercise activity thermogenesis”. Simply put, it’s all the physical movement in our lives that isn’t part of a planned exercise routine or sport. Activities include things like cooking, cleaning, shopping, playing a musical instrument, small movements such as toe tapping, and fidgeting in general, just to name a few. As it turns out, NEAT can have a substantial impact on our metabolic rates and caloric expenditures.

So yes, take that walk at lunch instead of sitting. Park in the farthest section of the lot when you go to the store.  Get up and do a few stretches and some squats every half an hour or so. Walk to see a colleague face-to-face instead of emailing. These are all great ideas, but there’s more. There are ways of embedding activity into your life on an even more elemental level.

Imagine a house without couches, chairs, even beds. Where and how you sit and/or sleep can also sway your “moving” or “non-moving” lifestyle one way or another.

In a conversation with Joe Rogan, Katy Bowman – a bio-mechanist, and author of books on natural movement and human development – suggests that we’ve made our environments a little “too” comfortable.

Mattress and bedding companies would have us believe that the “ideal night’s sleep” would mean climbing under the blankets and not moving for eight hours straight.

Katy says that our bodies aren’t meant to remain in one single position for that long. She says that we SHOULD be moving all the time – even a little – and that it’s this fairly constant stirring, the circulation of our system, that helps the body rid itself of toxins. If we remain in any one position for an extended position, we inhibit this. In essence, we stagnate.

“You are a filtration system and movement is your biggest filter changer. Your whole lymphatic system depends on movement. It doesn’t have its own pump. Your lymphatic system: that’s what’s taking your cellular waste and moving it out of your body. It’s laying right next to your arterial and venous system, so as muscles work, they pump blood over to the working tissues and it kind of washes everything away. So your lymphatic system doesn’t need a pump, because why would it? Why would you not be moving? Movement is something that a human should be doing all the time.”

If you sleep in a ultra soft bed, there is very little stimulus that might cause your body to change positions. As we are seeing, this is not necessarily a good thing.

Same idea goes for chairs and couches. We’ve made them so comfortable and so awesome, the we slump down in them and stay that way for hours. Now, you may not be ready to throw out all of your furniture just yet, but it might be a good idea to change things up a bit.  Sit on the floor more often, try sleeping without a pillow, maybe get a firmer mattress.

As Katy says, “We say we are too sedentary. I would say that you have too much repetitive geometry, which is different. It’s like you gotta get out of your couch and exercise. I would say maybe you just get out of your couch. Maybe you keep watching Netflix, just sit cross-legged on the floor, just put your legs out in front of you because that IS movement. That IS exercise. It’s just not in special clothing, in a class, in a gym.”

In order to combat the problem of “sitting disease”, maybe it’s as simple as going backwards in time a little: getting rid of this notion of movement in terms of “exercise” or “fitness” only, and create a climate in which movement – NATURAL human movement – is an integral part of how we exist.  It has been for MOST of our history, declining markedly over the last twenty-five years or so. There’s no reason why it can’t be that way again.

Visit Amanda Raynor’s Ottawa Mobility Center Human 2.0 on the web by clicking here

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Krista Blakelock - doula


By: Krista Blakelock – Inspired Yoga Teacher | Birthing Expert | Kitchener Doula, Avid Traveler



I see him glance over at me for a second time. He’s trying hard to focus on the basketball game playing on the television behind the bar, but he’s looking over at me completely perplexed.

I figure I should help him out.
“You’re at a bar watching television, I don’t care for sports so i’m doing this instead.”

“But you could do that at home,” he retorts.

“You could watch basketball at home too.”

He hesitates; commercials come on and he looks back at me, “So? Why would you come here to knit?”

Shockingly, not all people who knit are crazy cat ladies with agoraphobia.

“I just finished work, I like wine and occasionally talking to people at a bar is pretty cool,” I tell him.

“Last week a group of eight ladies came into the bar that I work at. They all ordered a beer and then pulled out knitting! They stayed for like, five hours!” He tells me.

From a servers perspective I totally understand the frustration of having a large part of your section taken up by people who are not spending a lot of money. It limits the amount of tips that can be earned and the amount of tables he can serve throughout the night. However, not all women who knit have apartments that would comfortably host eight friends, their bags of wool and needles. So, I decide his evil eye towards my speckled blue wool is not because he believes knitting to be terrible, but because of the tips he missed out on a week ago.

Personally, I don’t like to knit in big groups. Maybe with one or two other people, but typically i’ll knit alone. It is a way of grounding myself, and at the same time challenging myself to maintain focus on my breath, relaxation in my shoulders and proper posture through my spine. Sounds strange but if my body is hunched up and tense, the stitches in my wool become tighter making the subsequent row difficult to knit. So, in a way knitting is like a yogic practise to me.

In French, the verb “to knit” is “tricoter.” In Sanskrit, triangle pose is called “Trikonasana.” For some reason my brain made this connection and while practicing a flow sequence involving triangle I decided that this pose felt like my knitting meditation.

A triangle is formed between the knitting needles and the stitches. Similarly the legs form a triangle with the ground creating a sturdy base from which to lift up the torso and create space for breath and length in the spine. When the upper arm lifts towards upwards the third arm of the triangle is created connecting my body from the ground to the sky. I always feel at peace when I am holding my core, aligning my shoulders and really rooting my feet down into my mat.

Growing a knitted piece takes patience, alignment and attention. Stitches may slip off the needle, I may misread a pattern, or lose a stitch and some days my fingers and brain just don’t want to communicate. On the mat, trikonasana requires the same virtues. Patience to support weight and resist pressure, attention to breath and to alignment.

Furthermore, in chemistry a triangle is used to represent “change.” Reflecting on trikonasana I believe that my breath is able to facilitate change throughout my body, mind and heart. The triangle between my knitting needles is constantly changing a raveled ball of yarn into a functional piece of something. Currently, I’m working on a headband for a lovely lady who wants to live in a hobbit house, with a garden rooftop and a distillery in her basement. Bringing us full circle, or more appropriately: Complete triangle, back to why I am knitting in a bar…

A glass of wine after work, a knitting project and a bit of time to reflect on my breath, body and heart feels like the perfect thing to do in a bar on a Monday night.


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Yoga In Mexico with Robert Fox

sunset in mexicoby Robert Fox, Tai Chi & Qi Gong Instructor




According to Wikipedia, “Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline that denotes a variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism) and Jainism, the best-known being Hatha yoga and Raja yoga.”  It dates back to the 6th century BC.  It wasn’t until 1980 that yoga became an accepted form of exercise in the western world.  My wife and I live in Cambridge Ontario, and we have been life long YMCA members.  All kinds of fitness is an important part of our lives.  We became certified fitness instructors years ago, and today I still teach aerobics and weight resistant classes at the Cambridge Ontario YMCA.

yoga in mexico with robert fox

For the past 5 years, we have lived in Bucerias Mexico for February and March.  This year, I decided to offer a yoga class in the Ana Ruth’s hotel, where we live on the roof outdoors.  Bucerias is on the Pacific Ocean just a few miles north of Puerto Vallarta.  The environment here is perfect for yoga.  It seems like there is a yoga class being offer on every street corner.  Are these classes being taught by certified yoga instructors?  I doubt it.  Am I a certified yoga instructor?  No.  So I advertise my class as “Robert’s mobility class”.  Since I have had tons of experiences and courses in Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Creative Movement, Yoga, and since I am a qualified certified fitness instructor, I believe I can offer the participants some helpful exercises.  To make the classes even more appealing, they are free.

Back in Canada, I attend at least one yoga class per week and I have also researched yoga extensively on the internet.  When I am teaching my weight resistant class back home, I incorporate yoga moves into the hour, and those exercises are appreciated by all.  My wife and I have taken two separate courses from a certified Tai Chi instructor in Ontario.  We are pretty good at doing the 108 peaceful Chinese moves.  I have also been exposed to many Qi Gong classes, and at one time when you didn’t have to be certified in it, I taught it at the Chaplin Family YMCA in Cambridge.

yoga in mexico with robert fox

I retired from teaching with the Waterloo Region District School Board 15 years ago.  I taught for 33 years at the elementary level.  I have a specialist certificate in Drama Education, and have taught many courses in movement.  I still use those strategies in my weight resistant classes at the YMCA.

My Friday morning at 10 a.m. class here in Mexico consists of a little Tai Chi, a little Qi Gong, a little yoga, and a lot of Drama.  It lasts one hour and we always begin with a warmup and end with a cool down.  Of course we stretch a lot and hold poses too.  In drama class, back in the classroom, we use to call those poses, tableau.  The slow movements were called articulations.  Here is a list of what we did today, Friday 13th in Mexico …

  • warm up – a) brain gym  b) the Owl
  • The Golden 8 Energy Balancing Exercises
  • The Big 5 – lunge/squat/bridge/pushup/press
  • Tapping for stress reduction
  • Memory Hangers

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Robert Fox

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buddhism, creative movement, hatha yoga, hinduism, jainsim, mexico, qi gong, raja yoga, tai chi, tibetan buddhism, vajrayana, yoga, yoga in mexico

Inspired Yoga Teachers with Krista Blakelock

Krista Blakelock - doula By: Krista Blakelock – Inspired Yoga Teacher | Birthing Expert | Kitchener Doula, Avid Traveler

After participating in my first yoga class in 2008, I was immediately hooked. I loved the focus required, the quiet space that I could go to within myself and also the challenge. I admit I was not the “zen hippie” that people perceived when I spoke about my new found love of yoga. When I was in a class I truly felt that I should push further, hold the pose longer, fold deeper and do the most extreme variation of the options demonstrated; but within, my mind was never sincerely connecting to my body. My practice has changed a lot over the years and so too has the connection I feel between mind and body.
In 2012, working as a doula enabled me to practice yoga in a very different way. Mom’s who were active prior to their pregnancy were asking me for options so that they could keep their body moving without too much intensity. Other women simply wanted a way to relax and lengthen out their backs and chests, and stretch their hips. Showing clients various poses took me for a loop. When I taught, I was incredibly attentive to alignment, depth and length of breath, their changes from week to week and how steady they could be in a pose.  Moms were so happy to do shallow lunges and feel blood and oxygen pulsing through them and to baby. I was in awe of how content and proud they could feel even though in my personal practice, they technically were not in Virabhadrasana, Warrior 1 pose.
I continued with my own intense practice, but would teach clients slow, flowing sequences. My observations of how great they felt when they did supported hip rotations, neck and shoulder rolls, and a modified Surya Namaskar was reinforced week after week and slowly I began giving myself the same allowances to slow down. The real difficulty for me was to be still in a pose and convince my mind that it was totally okay. Allowing my body and mind to come into alignment and really soak up the benefits of a pose has had incredible benefits and I have to believe enables me to teach more honestly.
I regularly return to the quote by Richard Bach, “You teach what you most need to learn,” to remind myself how important it is to marvel at my breath, what my body does for me each day and how it feels to really connect with the sensations and changes within. Today, I am thankful for each mama who has brought life into the world, because through my interactions with them I have been able to come to life within my own mind and body in a very new and vibrant way.

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Yoga For Children Bibliography | List of Resources



Asencia, Teressa. Playful Family Yoga. Priceton Book Co., 2002

Atkins, Terri, Cowan, Palomares, Schuster. Feelings Are Facts: Helping Children Understand, Manage & Learn from Their Feelings. Innerchoice Pub; ISBN: 1564990109; Teacher edition (February 1993)

Ban Breathnach, Sarah. Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy. New York: Warner Books, 1996.

Berkus, Rusty. Life is a Gift. Red Rose Press, 1982

Berger, Kathleen and Ross Thompson. The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence, 4th Edition. Worth Publishers, 1980.l

Bersma, Danielle. Yoga Games for Children. Hunter House, 2003

Blakeslee, Thomas R. The Right Brain: A New Understanding of the Unconscious Mind and its Creative Powers. Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980.

Briggs, Dorothy Corkille. Celebrate Yourself, Making life Work for You. DoubleDay, 1970.

Briggs, Dorothy Corkille. Your Child’s Self-Esteem. Doubleday, 1975.

Brooks, David, et al. The Case for Character Education : The Role of the School in Teaching Values and Virtue. Studio 4 Productions; ISBN: 1882349016; (January 1997)

Budilovsky, Joan and Adamson, Eve. Idiot’s Guide to Yoga, Second Edition. Alpha Books, 2001

Chanchani, Rajiv and Swati. Yoga for Children. UBS Publishers’ Distributors, 1995.

Cohen, Ken et al. Imagine That: A Child’s Guide to Yoga. Integral Yoga Distribution; ISBN: 0932040403

Colletto, Jerry and Sloan, Ed.U, Jack. Yoga Conditioning and Football. Celestial Arts, 1975

Dawson, Paul. Human Body Explorer. DK Books, 2000.

Day, Jennifer. Creative Visualization With Children. Element Books Ltd., 1994.

De Brunhoff, Laurent. Babar’s Yoga for Elephants. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2002

Dennison, Paul. Brain Gym (Teachers Edition). Edu Kinesthetics; ISBN: 0942143027; Tchrs/Rev edition (June 1994)

Drury, Nevill. Creative Visualization, To Attain Your Goals and Improve your Well- being. Barnes and Noble Books, 2001.

Erikson, Joan M. Wisdom and the Senses. W.W. Norton, 1988. Fezler, William. Creative Imagery. Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Franklin, Eric. Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery. Human Kinetics (T); ISBN: 0873224752; (February 1997)

Fried, Suellen and Paula. Bullies and Victims. M. Evans, Inc., 2000

Gardner, Howard. Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1983.

Garth, Maureen. Starbright: Meditations for Children. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991.

Garth, Maureen. Moonbeam: A Book of Meditations for Children. Harper Collins Juvenile Books; ISBN: 1863711422; (March 1993)

Gold, Taro. Open Your Mind, Open Your Life. Beacon Press, 1999

Gooch, Sandy. If You Love Me, Don’t Feed Me Junk. Reston Publishing Co., 1983.

Goode and Watson. The Mind Fitness Program for Self-Esteem and Excellence. Zephyr Press, 1992.

Gordhamer, Soren. Just Say Om. Adams Media; ISBN: 1-58062-549-5; (2002)

Gordon, F. Noah. Magical Classroom, Creating Effective, Brain-Friendly Environments for the Classroom. Zephyr Press, 1995.

Gregson, Bob. The Incredible Indoor Games Book. David S. Lake Publishers, 1982.

Groves, Dawn. Yoga for Busy People. Barnes and Noble Publishing, 2002

Hannaford, Carla Awakening the Child Heart: Handbook for the Global Parenting. Jamilla Nur; ISBN: 0971664706; (May 2002)

Hannaford, Carla. Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head.

Great Ocean Pub; ISBN: 0915556278; (October 1995)

Hendricks, Gay and Wills, Russel. The Centering Book. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice- Hall, 1975.

Hendricks, Gay and Roberts, Thomas B. The Second Centering Book. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1977.

Hendricks, Gay. The Centered Teacher. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1981. Iyengar, B.K.S. Light On Yoga. Schocken Books, NY, 1966.

Jenkins, Peggy, Ph.D. The Joyful Child. Aslan Publishing, 1996.

Jenson, Eric. Learning with Mind and Body.

Kalish, Leah. Yoga Fitness for Kids (ages 3-6 and 7-12) Videos. Gaiam, Int. 2001

Kalish, Leah and Spahn, Diane. Yoga Kit for Kids. Imaginazium, LLC, 1999.

Kessler, Rachael. The Soul of Education, Helping Students find Connection, Compassion and Character at School. Association for Supervision and Curriculum, 2000

Kilpatrick, William K. Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong. Touchstone Books; ISBN: 0671870734; Reprint edition (September 1993)

Kilpatrick, William, et al. Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories. Touchstone Books; ISBN: 0671884239; (November 1994)

Koch, Isabelle. Like a Fish in Water, Yoga for Children. Inner Traditions Int., 1999

Kohn, Alfie. No Contest: The Case Against Competition. Houghton Mifflin, 1986

Komitor, Jodi, Adamson. Complete Idiot’s Guide to Yoga with Kids. Alpha Books; ISBN: 0028639359; 1 edition (July 20, 2000)

Lark, Liz. Flow Motion, Yoga for Children. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2003

Lark, Liz. Yoga For Kids. Firefly Books Ltd., 2003

Lickona, Thomas. Raising Good Children. Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub; ISBN: 055337429X; (October 1994)

Luby, Thia. Children’s Book of Yoga: Games & Exercises Mimic Plants & Animals & Objects. Clear Light Pub; ISBN: 1574160036; (July 1998)

Luby, Thia. Yoga for Teens. Clear Light Publishing, 1999

Madison, Dr. Lynda. The Feelings Book, the Care and Keeping of Your Emotions. Pleasant Company Publication – American Girl Library, 2002

Majoy, Peter. Riding the Crocodile, Flying the Peach Pit, A Sensory Approach to Education. Zephyr Press, 1996.

Mehta, Mira. How to Use Yoga. Smithmark Publishres, 1994.

Merritt, Stephanie. Mind, Music and Imagery. Aslan Publishing, 1996.

Miller, Elise and Blackman, Carol. Life is a Stretch, Easy Yoga Anytime, Anywhere. Llwellyn Publications, 1999.

Moorman, Chick. Talk Sense To Yourself: The Language of Personal Power. Personal Power Press, 1985.

Murdock, Maureen. Spinning Inward: Using Guided Imagery With Children for Learning, Creativity & Relaxation. Shambhala Publications; ISBN: 0877734224; Rev&Updtd edition (February 1988)

Oaklander, Violet. Windows To Our Children. Gestalt Journal Press, 1988.

Pearce, Dr. Joseph C. Evolution’s End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence. San Francisco: Harper, 1992.

Pearce, Dr. Joseph C. Magical Child. Plume Books, Penguin, 1977.

Petrash, Jack. Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out. Gryphon House; ISBN: 0876592469; (September 2002)

Phillips, Kathy and Stewart, Mary. Yoga for Children. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1992.

Promislow, Sharon. Making the Brain Body Connection: A Playful Guide to Releasing Mental, Physical & Emotional Blocks to Success. Enhanced Learning & Integration; ISBN: 0968106633; (February 1, 2000)

Rogers, Carl & H. Jerome Freidberg. Freedom to Learn.

Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. Yoga Education For Children. Bihar School of Yoga, India, 1990

Semigran, Stu and Sindy Wilkinson. Making the Best of Me, A Handbook for Student Exxcellence and Self-Esteem. ACE Program, 1989

Sivananda Yoga Center and Staff. Yoga Mind and Body. DK Pub. Inc., 1998

Spolin, Viola. Theater Game File. St. Louis: Cemrel, Inc., 1975.

Sumar, Sonia. Yoga for the Special Child, A Therapeutic Approach for Infants and Children with Down Syndrome, Cerabral Palsy, and Learning Disabilities. Special Yoga Publications, 1998

Trivell, Lisa. I Can’t Believe It’s Yoga for Kids. Hatherliegh Press, 2000

Walker, Richard. Guide to the Human Body, A Photographic Journey Through the Human Body. DK Books, 2001.

Weinstein, Matt, and Goodman, Joel. Playfair: Everybody’s Guide to Non-competitive Play. Impact Publishers, 1980

Weiss, Brian. Meditation. Hay House Inc., 2002 Weller, Stella. Yoga for Children. Thorsons, 1996. Whitelaw, Ginny. Body Learning. Perigree Trade, 1998


Yoga Journal. 2054 University Ave. #600, Berkeley, CA 94704 / Subscriptions: 800-600-yoga

Yoga International. Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A. Subscriptions:

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Yoga For Children

Yoga For Children


Experience has demonstrated to us that yoga is an excellent system for promoting healthy development and can be an incredibly effective means of facilitating wellness in children.
It is noninvasive and its “side effects,” including improved self-esteem, emotional equilibrium, more energy and the ability to self-calm, are completely benign if not totally

Children who practice yoga may not only be better able to regulate their emotions, manage stress and calm themselves, studies now show that they may also choose better foods to eat and engage in more physical activity than children who do not. Whether over- or underweight, body image issues and poor eating habits plague our children today. Studies suggest yoga may help.

One such study examined the benefits of yoga for adolescents with eating disorders. These teens attended yoga classes as part of their psychiatric day treatment program. Typically suffering from a lack of self-esteem, nearly 75% reported an increase in well-being. They used the words “relaxed,” “calm,” “energized” and “more awake” to describe how they felt after class. (M.J Fury, MA, RYT, and L.C. Kaley-Isley, PhD, RYT)

A case study on anorexic adolescents found that “focused breathing (pranayama), movement sequences (asana), meditation (dhyana), and alert relaxation (yoga nidra)
…reduced starvation-induced stress, safely reintroduced physical activity for a weakened
body, minimized fatigue and… corrected distorted self-perceptions.” (Susana A. Galle,
PhD, ND, CCN, CCH, and Tomas E. Silber, MD)

Other studies on children and adolescents on anxiety, depression, trauma, mood regulation, sense of well-being, self-esteem and “increased wellness” draw conclusions
about the positive effects of yoga on all of these conditions.

Subjective outcomes included “improved focus, strength, flexibility, and balance;
improved sense of self-awareness and pride; and improved ability to calm themselves.”
It was further reported that “the girls overwhelmingly noted that they felt happier, more
relaxed, less stressed, and more at ease in their bodies on the days they practiced yoga
than on the days they did not.” (A. Bortz, PsyD, RYT and K. Cradock, LCSW, RYT)

Perhaps one of the more interesting studies, submitted by Molly Kenny, MS-CCC of
The Samarya Center in Seattle, Washington, suggested that the physical act of balancing
might improve self-esteem in teens. The positive effects of “balance training” on the
subjects’ concentration and attention were “immediately observable,” and she proposed
that the effects on self-esteem might become more apparent over time.

The scientific community recognizes measurement tools used in these studies. Research
in the field of yoga therapy, however, is largely exploratory at this time and warrants
further investigation. It seems simple. Children are suffering from a lack of connection
to their own bodies, their environment and the food they eat. Yoga facilitates connection.

It’s easy, low cost, accessible and anyone can do it. And now it’s being proven effective.
More and more teachers and other interested adults are sharing yoga with children. Kids
have a natural tendency to share what they are learning when they get home, so this is an
easy way to get the whole family involved. Parents may be practicing yoga themselves,
and kids are always interested in what their parents are up to.

Another way is for children’s yoga teachers to invite parents in for a first and/or last class
of a yoga session. A child’s aunt sitting in on a kids class said to me, “They are doing
real yoga poses! That is great.” I’m not sure what she thought, but now she knows what
she can practice at home with her niece. Family classes are another great way to help
everyone feel an increased sense of well-being while learning a practice they can enjoy
at home. With wide age ranges and levels of ability, family classes can be challenging to
teach but also especially rewarding.

Adenia Linker, Hyde Park mother of nine-year-old twins and longtime children’s yoga
teacher, involves the parents of her yoga students by sending home a newsletter every
few weeks. It’s a simple one-page letter with a picture and description of a pose learned
that week and an inspiring quote along with a new children’s yoga book, a Web site or
some other resource that may interest parents.

The more parents, teachers, doctors and other professionals working with children
understand the practice of yoga and its benefits, the more likely it is to be seriously
considered as a therapy.

In an era of children acquiring conditions and diseases previously unknown in childhood,
proper breathing, exercise and deep relaxation may be the powerful healing force needed.
Yoga resonates with children. ”They love the practice, and they love how they feel afterwards. With all of the research and “proof” now available, it may well be just what
the doctor orders.

These notes come from:

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