Leah Kalish is a Founding Sponsor of K-12YOGA.org and of her own training company: MoveWithMe.com. Since 2006 Leah’s wisdom and energy has been instrumental in the K-12YOGA.org network, which is being optimized to make it easy for people to locate K-12 schools with Yoga & Mindfulness programs.
One of the first people to create yoga-based social-emotional curriculum, Leah worked with Yoga Ed founder Tara Guber to develop the program in a public charter school in Los Angeles, CA in 1999. Leah now travels to present at conferences, such as Head Start and Kids National Yoga Conference, and to certify yoga teacher trainees in her Move-with-Me method.
With a background in dance and acting, Leah “got the mind-body connection” in her mid-30’s (1992) when she completed yoga teacher certification with Erich Schiffmann and Rod Stryker (well-known yogis).
“After yoga teacher training, I went to graduate school. It became clear to me that yoga was the best system to support education of one’s self,” says Leah. She did her master’s thesis on using relaxation and guided imagery for preschoolers.
In addition to yoga, Leah brought to her pre-school classes improvisation and creative play. She recalls thinking: ”How can I integrate these things to create a playground for learning?” She integrated visualization and designed yoga cards to empower kids and teachers in the classroom. This was the start of Leah’s second career.
“Yoga is a system that needed to be brought into Education. I had never seen a better way to teach kids social-emotional learning. If you learn how to manage your own body you have compassion, you have to get it within yourself. Kids are able to understand through yoga how to calm themselves, and the parents also learned to calm themselves with their kids teaching them what they learned in class.
Working closely with Yoga Ed founder Tara Guber, Leah designed yoga-based Physical Education curriculum for a Los Angeles K-8 charter school. She wrote lesson plans for twice weekly yoga classes for each grade. “It was also all about social emotional learning,” says Leah.
From there Leah started doing kids yoga videos for Gaiam and co-founded Yoga Ed, a school-based training program to empower school communities with yoga to cultivate health and wellness in children and teens. In 2010 Leah founded Move-with-Me and designed the curriculum which both trains people and empowers them to train staff.
“My hope is that they use it in the schools. We support trainers to build their business to reach more people because we provide resources teach them how to use them,” says Leah.
Leah sees the K-12YOGA.org network growing and creating alliances. “Even before the Kids National Yoga Conference 3 years ago, people were saying: ‘yoga for kids?!’ This movement has come a long way!”
Leah has focused her company on service. “I go to like-minded people, hand the resources to them, provide them with all the resources and tools the Move with Me website and support them with giving them my number if they need me or they can always email me.” It is an empowerment model, helping you be more you and do better in the way you need to do it is what I want to do.”