Mira Binzen, Co-Founder and Director of Training at Global Family Yoga, gives MysticMag the opportunity to discover the joys of teaching Yoga to children and the benefits the practice of Yoga has for them, their families and the community around them.
What inspired the creation of Global Family Yoga and what can you tell us about its beginnings?
I have always been interested in working with kids with special needs and I have been fascinated with the Eastern Science of Consciousness – Yoga – since High School. Global Family Yoga was born from two parallel paths of mine that converged. I was working as a Developmental Therapist with kids with specific needs (autism spectrum). I went to India to travel and study yoga, and this is when it all fell into place for me.
I wanted to teach kids Yoga, and then train people to teach kids Yoga. My mom and sister joined me in this endeavor of creating a kids Yoga Teacher Training Program and it was actually the first program of its kind to be approved by the Yoga Alliance.
What benefits are immediately visible in children when practicing yoga?
What children say the most after a yoga class is that they feel relaxed. One 9-year-old said that she felt both energized and relaxed at the same time, which I find a great way of describing it. This speaks beautifully to a balanced and well-regulated nervous system.
Kids also really like that they can take action for themselves and shift their mood and energy with tools that they learn in the yoga class. Children also report, believe it or not, that they enjoy meditation.
How does this extend to the family and community thereafter?
Children’s mental health is currently a top concern for parents and, unfortunately, the tools we have available to address this are marginally effective. Giving children self-practices to daily regulate their own nervous system helps them engage in the world, have better relationships with their friends, and perform better at school.
Kids often go home and teach their parents what they learned in class. I also teach family yoga classes and this is the foundation of well-being. There is a ripple effect on those surrounding the kids.
What kind of impact does anxiety have on our community and do you believe you can prevent this from happening to those you work with?
Anxiety is having a huge impact on society as kids are refusing to go to school. They are missing out on opportunities to learn, to socialize and, significantly, to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and taking risks which is how we grow. It is limiting a child’s ability to develop into their best self in the world.
Anxious feelings are a normal human emotion. They don’t need to be prevented, but do need to be understood and put into context. It is important not to pathologize normal human reactions. It becomes anxiety or chronic anxiety when someone doesn’t learn how to deal with those strong sensations that arise in the body – the brain starts to develop a habit of anxiety and this is when it becomes chronic or problematic.
So we can teach children and people of all ages to understand how their mind and body works, and how to, on a daily basis, regulate and strengthen their nervous system. We can also give them on the go practices (the tools to manage these sensations).
What are the differences involved when teaching yoga to children and adults (if any)?
The techniques are the same but they are modified to be more imaginative, playful and interactive. We include all the components; breathwork, mudras, guided relaxation, meditation and chanting. All these techniques have great benefit.
What is your vision and what lies in store for Global Family Yoga?
In the last two years we pulled a component out of our Therapeutic Yoga for Children Training, called Anxious to Awesome. It is now a stand-alone training. We are really focused on children’s mental and emotional well being.
I wrote a book called Anxious to Awesome – A Practical Guide For The Whole Family. We have a 21-day journey for families to help develop a daily routine of regulating the nervous system and we also have a Certified Facilitator Training for Yoga teachers, occupational therapists, schoolteachers and anyone who works with children and wants to help them understand and regulate their mind and mood. We also offer a couple of stand-alone trainings which include teaching yoga to families and yoga nidra for children.
This is what we are really committed to – providing to the community going forward.
If you would like to find out more about Global Family Yoga, visit https://www.globalfamilyyoga.com/