Articles Archive


Yoga Chicago is a resource for Yoga happenings and interesting articles related to the Yoga community in Chicago, where our training director - Mira Binzen, E-RYT, RCYT - once lived. She is a regular contributor to this publication and you can check out her many featured articles below.

Most of these articles are available for reprint.  Permission required.

  • Cool Down Kids—Balancing for Summer Season
    Nature moves through an exquisitely intelligent cycle. When we harmonize our lives with it, we feel better.

  • All Kids Are Kapha; Balancing for Spring Season
    Ayurveda is India’s ancient nature-based health system. While complex, a simple understanding applied in a child’s life can promote better health on every level.

  • Yoga Poses Teens Love
    Balance poses, partner poses, and restorative poses meet teens at a time of great transition with something interesting enough to draw them in. Through the process, they discover a sense of peace and balance they can share with the world as they emerge into adulthood.
  • Choo Choo Breath to Stimulate the Brain
    Breathing is the foundation of life. It is also one of the few aspects of our autonomic nervous system (ANS) we can consciously control.
  • Settle the Wind in a Child's Mind & Body
    Change — in the seasons, in routine, or within — can throw a child off balance.  But have no fear, Ayurveda is here! The sister science to Yoga teaches us how to live in harmony with nature, both within and around us.
  • Yoga Teaches Children the Language of the Body
    Body awareness is a significant component of wellness. It is our internal guidance system and teaching children to tune in will put them in the driver’s seat of their own experience.
  • The Science of Switch Breath
    Did you know you can breathe through a single nostril to influence which side of your brain is dominant? You can then meet the kind of activity you wish to do with the side of the brain that is meant to accomplish it.
  • The Joy of Teaching Yoga to Children the Shalise Nichols Way
    Shalise Nichols was a well-loved children’s Yoga teacher in Chicago who left a legacy of joy and delight.  Despite her too-short life, she was an incredibly bright light and made a powerful impact on the world.
  • Splat Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) for Children
    Taking a standard Yoga pose and giving it a silly name or turning it into an interesting animal helps children find their way into a practice that may otherwise be too subtle for them to appreciate.

  • Five-Minute Yoga Breaks in School
    Trying to teach kids who are distracted, disruptive, or daydreaming is neither fun, nor effective. But with a packed schedule and a tight curriculum, what is a teacher to do?
  • The Great Sages of India Empower Kids
    Poses named after Indian sages teach us to cultivate the qualities they developed, such as insight, persistence, and equanimity.
  • Less is More When Teaching Yoga to Children
    From the moment children get up until it’s time to go to sleep, they are constantly bombarded with stimuli.  No wonder children are anxious, stressed out, and having trouble paying attention.
  • The Three Components in Teaching Yoga to Children
    There are three components in teaching Yoga to children that apply to an organized group class as well as a home practice. Understanding these can help you create an engaging and effective practice for children.
  • The Precious Gem Hidden in Your Closet
    Just like the closets in our home, our body and mind need to be cleaned out and kept clear of clutter that keeps us from being able to find the gem of who we are.
  • What Color is your day?
    Color can be used as an analogy to teach children about emotions. Teaching a child emotional intelligence has a direct, positive impact on their quality of every aspect.
  • The Benefits of Yoga for Children
    The deep and long-lasting benefit of Yoga is the way it quiets the mind through regulated breathing, postures, guided relaxation, mantra, and mudra. The mind then becomes like a still lake, and the depth of who we are can be seen.
  • The Journey from Anxious to Awesome
    The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 25% of all children ages 13 to 18 have or will experience anxiety.  There are several effective Yoga strategies that help a child learn to cope from the inside out.
  • Aromatherapy for Children
    Due to a surge in demand for natural health solutions, essential oils are making their way into the mainstream. An impressive and ever-growing body of research and improved quality of oils available has brought them out of obscurity and into medicine cabinets everywhere.
  • Children Learn Yoga from Flowers
    Yoga is the awakening, or blossoming, of our true nature. Simply put, this practice can help us be who we came here to be, to live a life of purpose and ease. And a flower can help teach us how.
  • Fostering Friendships in Yoga Class
    For school-age children, friends are paramount. Some children are naturally outgoing and make friends with ease. Others struggle to make and keep friends. There are several ways Yoga can help.
  • Quiet Time for Kids
    Art, gaming, studying, socializing, surfing, practicing sports, testing, texting and Snapchatting—kids are busy. The brain needs input to grow; it also needs rest. Quiet time allows the spaciousness of who you are to shine bright through all the activities of the day.
  • Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center – The Building of Community
    In 1965, a group of dedicated yogis were quietly practicing in a room in the Fine Arts Building overlooking Buckingham Fountain. It was the start of what would become the first Yoga center in Chicago.
  • Words Matter
    What we say matters. How we say it matters too. Words have tremendous power and we can use them to help children experience Yoga.
  • Back to School With Yoga
    The mindful techniques of Yoga help bring distracted students into the present moment, create confidence in shy kids, and help children relax before tests.
  • Yoga Therapy for Children: The Four Levels of Connection
    The Four Levels of Connection is one framework we use when teaching the therapeutic applications of Yoga for children.
  • Fun Summer Yoga Practices for Kids
    It’s becoming more and more common for children to practice Yoga during the school year, so when school is out for the summer, keep your little yogis engaged in the practice with some fun summer Yoga tips.
  • Pranayama is NOT for Children
    Can breathing practices from the Yoga tradition support a child’s wellbeing? Absolutely. But when it comes to the formal science of pranayama, children’s Yoga teachers are advised to steer clear.
  • Open Hearted and Courageous Children
    How Yoga can help children stay open and courageous when it comes to matters of the heart? Challenging Yoga postures can help them face challenges in life without shrinking back or closing down.
  • The Subtle Cues of Anxiety in Children
    Most young children do not have the verbal skills to express how they are feeling. We need to be detectives and look for the subtle signs their body language reveals.
  • Teaching Family Yoga
    Teaching a Yoga class full of families is both fun and challenging. The benefits are so great that it’s worth negotiating the logistics of teaching a multi-age, multi-level group.
  • For Preventive Health Care, Teach Yoga to Children
    Research is pouring out of labs all over the world indicating the powerful benefits of a regular Yoga practice, especially for what is being termed “lifestyle diseases.”
  • Three Better Breathing Habits for Kids
    Practicing these 3 techniques with conscious awareness sets a pattern that the breath will naturally fall into. This has a tremendous impact on a child’s ability to sleep, learn, make friends, focus, and be at ease.
  • Trauma-Informed Yoga for Children
    Trauma is stored in the body. As best practices for treating trauma evolve, physical practices such as Yoga are moving to the forefront.
  • Stress-Hardy Children
    Teaching a child to manage stress as it arises is one of the most hopeful and effective strategies to promote well-being on all levels. Yoga is unsurpassed as a stress-reduction technique.
  • Teaching Yoga to Toddlers
    Yoga for children has tremendous potential to support development on all levels. Since Yoga is about much more than the Yoga postures, toddlers benefit more than just physically.
  • Agni Sara for Teens
    Vinyasa flow, partner poses and a long final rest (savasana) are all great for teens but why stop there?
  • How Yoga Can Help Your Child Feel Less Anxious
    Many children have found lasting relief from anxiety by incorporating Yoga into their lives.
  • Partner Yoga for Moms and Daughters
    Any two people can practice partner poses; when the partners are a mom and a daughter, they can help to strengthen and balance the relationship as well as the body.
  • The Light Beyond All Sorrow
    The commentary in Four Chapters on Freedom by Swami Satyananda Saraswati states, "The inner illumination is very serene, calm, quiet, and peaceful." Isn't that what we want for our children?
  • Fire In The Belly - Revving Up Your Child's Solar Power
    Children enjoy challenges, so it's easy to add poses and activities to a Yoga practice that help them strengthen and develop an awareness of their core.
  • Tears and Art-Taking Teens on the Hero's Journey
    By developmental design, teens must step out on the path of life and leave their home - both metaphorically and physically - to find their own unique way and special gifts to share with the world. The Hero's Journey is a map for this process.
  • Adaptive Yoga for Children
    Adapting the practice to fit each student's unique constitution and abilities is the way Yoga is traditionally practiced.
  • Kids Love Arm Balances!
    Teach kids arm balances. They are fun and give children a sense of accomplishment. In this article, Mira tells us how.
  • Yoga for Children on the Autism Spectrum
    Many parents, school teachers and therapists have found that Yoga provides beneficial techniques for helping a child who falls on the autism spectrum.
  • Sweet Kids - Break the Sugar Addiction to Bring Out The Natural Sweetness in Your Child
    With processed food-filled aisles in the grocery stores, parents have to be diligent and plan ahead to get healthy foods. The rewards for children's health and well-being are worth the effort.
  • Help a Child Set an Intention
    There is a beautiful word for intention in the Sanskrit language. It is called a sankalpa. Children can understand how this sankalpa works and learn to bring more awareness to their daily activities and their lives.
  • So Hum Meditation for Children
    Children can cultivate a habit of meditation just as they learn to brush teeth, tie shoes, eat with silverware, and develop other personal habits that help them feel good and function well in the world. This simple practice is a great place to start.
  • The Power of OM in a Child's Yoga Practice
    Swami Satchidananda has said, "When you repeat Om, you hear your own sound." This article describes how to introduce this sacred sound in an authentic way that is respectful of personal beliefs and practices.
  • Myths Guide Us in Practice and in Life
    Nature and myths are two compelling themes for children's Yoga classes. Not too surprising. Read the story of how The Hero's Journey helped one of Mira's young students.
  • The Full Flowering of Awareness
    The practice of Yoga teaches us to develop awareness of the witness--that which does not change--by stepping back from that which is always changing--opinions, beliefs, sensations, and such. A flower is a simple example of this that anyone of any age can learn from.
  • Savasana "Clears Your Mind and Relaxes Your Body"
    Time spent in stillness at the end of each Yoga practice is a key element in assimilating the benefits of the practice. It is important for the body and mind to have a chance to process and integrate the experience.
  • Bring Yoga Home - Seven Steps to Family Wellness
    A new model of family wellness is emerging. These seven steps are based on the teachings of Swami-Vishnu Devananda and can help you incorporate the life-affirming practices of Yoga into your family's routine.
  • This is What Yoga Means to Me
    There is currently no widely accepted definition of a Yoga teacher in our country or in the world. In this article, Mira shares what being a Yoga teacher means to her.
  • A Rest House on the Journey of Awakening
    It is crucial to have an inner resource before beginning the deep, meditative inquiry that leads to self-understanding and self-mastery. The inner resource becomes a rest house on the journey of awakening.
  • Stillness: the Overlooked Form of Exercise
    Although sitting still will not melt away body fat, it may play an indirect role in reversing or preventing obesity.
  • Lessons from The Lorax : A Paradigm Shift to Health and Wellness
    The "progress myth" and its impact on our children's health and well-being (and our own).
  • No Time To Relax? FEEL Into Timeless Being
    Body sensing as a tool for health and wholeness.
  • Family Yoga and Art at the Art Institute
    Mira relates a brilliant example of interpretive learning that combines seeing and hearing about art objects with related movements through Yoga.
  • True Nature – Children Discover Themselves Through the Five Elements
    Our bodies are made up of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Understanding and experiencing these elements can help children be more aware of and present in their bodies.
  • The Banyan Tree--Teaching Handstands to Children
    The Banyan Tree is a pose that can help increase awareness of the student's own capabilities.  After practicing this pose, Mira asks the children, "If you can hold yourself upside down like this when you thought you couldn't, what else might you be able to do?"

  • Let the Sun Shine! Sun Salutations for Children
    The linking of movement and breath is a hallmark of the physical practice of Yoga. Mira addresses the benefits of Sun Salutations and how to this practice can be modified to suit various ages and interests.
  • Sensory Integration and How Yoga Helps
    Everyone experiences times when they are not responding well to the environment. Mira explains the wide variety of SPD (Sensory Processing Disorders) and how Yoga can help develop life skills to bring sensory processing into balance.
  • Adults Benefit Too While Learning to Teach Yoga To Children
    One quote from a participant at the Intensive Retreat captures the benefit; “The experience was a beautiful, nonjudgmental, comfortable environment that allowed me to look deep into myself with the support of the staff and other students. It was amazing--the experience, the memories, and what I learned will stay with me forever."
  • The Worry Witch Helps Girls Manage Anxiety
    Who is the Worry Witch and how does she help manage anxiety? Read and find out.
  • Yoga for Stressed-Out Kids
    The progress myth of our modern culture. New, better, faster, more. The cost of this unsustainable paradigm falls on the heads and shoulders of our children.
  • Yoga for the Deaf
    “How will I convey the concept of final rest (Savasana)? How will I give instructions when students are in inverted poses like Downward Facing Dog and Bamboo (Uttanasana)?” Mira asks herself and then shares the delight that both she and the children experienced in this series of classes at a school that has served the deaf and hard of hearing community since 1917.
  • The Sounds of Yoga
    Silence is golden, but sound is one of the most powerful tools in a yogi’s treasure chest of techniques.
  • Kids Yoga: Each Breath Is a Smile
    The outward pull of modern living can creep in and take even a child out of the present moment. Seeking to lessen this outward pull in her life, Mira attends a 10-day silent retreat in Thailand.
  • Silence
    Being quiet and receptive is a natural state, a state rarely found amidst the busy-ness and noise of modern life. Yoga can give children the specific techniques they need to return to this natural state at will.
  • Children Learn to Plant the Seeds of Self-Mastery
    Like this land in the springtime, the delicate seedlings of positive thoughts are carefully tended, while negative habits are discouraged from taking root.
  • Fun Tools to Help Kids Relax and Focus: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
    Stress can inhibit learning. What’s a kid to do? Fortunately there are several simple practices from the Yoga tradition that can help children thrive this school year.
  • Nourishing Kids with Nature
    Nature engages all of the senses. We know from our own experience that time in nature leaves us feeling inspired, peaceful and calm. Children and adults alike can connect with the 5 elements in many ways as described in this article.
  • Mudras--Mini Yoga Poses for Little Yogis and Yoginis
    Children enjoy many aspects of Yoga but seem particularly fond of these unique hand gestures.
  • Permaculture--Yoga Philosophy in Action
    Observe. Connect. Catch and store energy. Work with the edges. These same principles that guide our Yoga practice also guide permaculture design.
  • Family Yoga
    Finding time for fitness, family fun and a chance to relax can be a challenge. In family Yoga classes, they are all rolled into one.
  • Wiggly Kids Relax
    Children, like many adults, have little conscious awareness of tension being held in the body and mind and few skills to cope with it. Yoga addresses three aspects of relaxation--body, breath and mind.
  • Yoga Birthday Parties Take Stress off Parents as Well as Kids
    Keep it simple. Less is more. Stay present. These are the mantras that go along with the practice of Yoga. A party with a Yoga focus can be a simpler, saner way to celebrate. A Birthday Fairy Tea Party incorporates Yoga games and poses that can be enjoyed in your own living room or backyard.
  • Yamas and Niyamas by the Lake
    The yamas and niyamas are guidelines for how to interact with the outer world and with our inner world. The students in this class seem wise for their age as they talk about not harming themselves with negative thoughts, not stealing other people’s ideas and being disciplined with their homework.
  • In the Wheelchair, On the Mat: Matt Sanford Shows Yoga is for Any Body
    Perfect bodies in perfect poses grace the pages of modern Yoga magazines. Someone living with a disability may look once and consider the practice inaccessible. Matt Sanford is proving otherwise.
  • Yoga for Kids; Let the Body Breathe
    Breath is life. With or without our conscious participation, the body breathes. Teaching children simple ways to connect with their own natural breath can help them preserve this big, beautiful baby breathing right into adulthood.
  • Yoga for Children--Now Proven Effective!
    In “The Yoga Tradition”, Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D., describes the ancient sages as “seers (rishi) who ‘saw’ the truth, who perceived with the inner eye the hidden reality behind the smoke screen of manifest existence.” Today’s discerning Westerner wants a little more proof.
  • Ancient Stories for a Family Yoga Class in Singapore
    Yoga is a universal language everyone can understand and enjoy, whether in Chicago or Singapore. Although Yoga is an individual practice, it has the potential to unite families and cultures.
  • Bedtime Gorilla - Help your Children Ease into a Peaceful Sleep
    After a full day of being bombarded by stimulants from sugar to city noise to eye strain from computer and TV screens, little bodies need a signal that it is time to disengage and rest. Bedtime gorilla to the rescue!
  • Getting Kids (and Adults) to Eat HAPPY, not SAD
    Standard American Diet (SAD). What is a HAPPY diet?
  • Yoga Therapy for Children - With Insights from Ganesh Mohan, M.D.
    Kids today are facing many of the same complex health challenges as adults, including depression, obesity, high blood pressure and anxiety. Yoga therapy has become widely accepted as an effective method of treatment for a variety of ailments, largely due to its unique ability to treat a person on all levels: mental, emotional and physical.