Teaching yoga to children with disabilities/Special Needs

A look inside a yoga classroom from a new perspective.

Have you ever heard a child laugh so hard from the core of their entire being?  And then you had to start in, laughing right along with them? Then, loving to hear their laughter so much that you have to do something else outrageously funny to get them started right up again? Well that was my experience in yoga class today!! I was both the teacher and the student again as I taught yoga to children with all different disabilities, but all with unique abilities!!

This was my first time teaching yoga to this particular group of students along with their care providers, and their first time trying yoga. I was not sure of their personalities, capabilities, attention spans, or interest levels as of yet. I was told that there were some particularly challenging students at the school that I had hoped to reach out to. I am always up for a challenge myself, so decided today to see if I could bless these kids with my love for yoga. Knowing the capacity for healing that yoga brings to people from ALL walks of life, I was willing to offer my time, this afternoon, to these students!

I started the class out by getting to know the students by name, giving them each a hug or high five. Then we started right into an excited birthday celebration with birthday cake, candles, big balloons, and gigantic presents. I used animated, exaggerated movement, huge shapes and poses with my body to describe our party scene! Before you knew it, we were having a huge yoga birthday party, everyone joining in the imaginary fun.

The class went on to dramatic stories all using the physical body and imaginative play. Learning new poses, trying to say new words in the Sanskrit language, smiling, laughing, collapsing when necessary!! And then a challenging game of “Yogi Says” to see what new information they could retain! I ended the class telling them we were now going to do the hardest pose of all!! Savasana, lying down flat on our backs on the ground, relaxing every muscle and not batting an eyelash, cozy in the earth like a big, fat juicy worm! Success all around!!

I have never heard so much laughter or felt such pure joy in a yoga class! The students had wide eyes, watching, listening, experiencing, trying, participating, all the while laughter filling the air!! 45 minutes later and I was sweaty and content. The students eager for this crazy yoga teacher to come back and entertain them again next week!

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