The Yoga Bridge -- An Integrated Approach for Special Learners

by Jasmine Sidhe, Certified Yoga for the Special Child Practitioner

This is the time of year that many of us make New Year's resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions has to do with getting more exercise- more exercise for ourselves and for our children. Yoga makes a nice complement to an aerobic exercise program and provides benefits far beyond the physical.

How does yoga help?

Our bodies are meant to function as a whole, integrated unit. Whatever we do in one area affects other areas. Can we improve thinking just by moving our bodies? Yes, numerous studies support this. Movement re-patterns the brain and nervous system to increase their capabilities.

The regular practice of yoga effects physical, intellectual, and emotional development. Yoga increases strength, balance, stamina, eye-hand coordination, body awareness, and fine and gross motor planning skills. Yoga increases focus, clarity, concentration, creativity, and communication skills. Yoga can also help to regulate emotional states, calming or energizing as needed. Yoga increases self-esteem and adds to a sense of personal well-being.

How does yoga help with specific disabilities?

Using yoga with children who experience learning disabilities and ADHD has been shown to help develop better concentration, emotional balance and composure. Using both sides of the brain through movement activities helps to develop intellectual capacity.

Children with developmental disabilities who have a regular yoga practice have shown quicker mastery of basic motor, communication, and cognitive skills. In one study, children with Down syndrome achieved developmental milestones an average of 4 months earlier than expected.

Children with autism who practice yoga learn social skills such as imitation and joint attention skills; both of which are crucial to the learning process.

Children with cerebral palsy gain increased range of motion, deeper breathing, and the ability to relax more easily.

Yes, but... how do we get our kids to do yoga?

The Yoga Bridge offers private yoga sessions in the client's home. The sessions include yoga poses as well as techniques for calming and focusing. Sessions are individualized for the needs of each client.

Also, The Yoga Bridge will very soon becoming out with a DVD made especially for people with special needs. It is called Yoga for Calm and Focus ...with Jasmine. This DVD features people who have special needs. The pace and activities are geared to their abilities. Your children will identify with the students they see on the screen. You will experience a 30 minute yoga class along with sections that describe each pose in detail and demonstrate safe, effective assisting tips. The DVD also contains a specific section that has techniques for calming, focusing and making transitions easier.

 

Jasmine Sidhe is a certified practioner of yoga.  She has two fabulous children with learning differences that have provided her with experience and challenges for the past 30 years.  Jasmine is a Minnesota licensed teacher with an autism certificate, has worked in special education in the public schools, and has used yoga and other movement techniques with some of her students.  Jasmine has also taught nutrition classes through community education and health food stores.  She has helped facilitate parent support groups through Arc.  Jasmine has seen the positive effects of yoga in her own life, along with that of her children, and of the students she has worked with.  She is looking forward to sharing this knowledge and experience to benefit you and your loved ones.