The intention behind the practice comes from the belief that all children are special and deserve to experience peace, joy and fulfillment of their potential and purpose. To enable this the aim is to support the child to feel safe, grounded, embodied, comfortable in their own skin, calm and connected. The sessions are never about how many yoga poses might or might not be achieved, but rather around how settled and relaxed the child feels during and after the session.
Breath Work/ Pranayama
One of the primary purposes of pranayama is to make the respiratory system function at its best. This automatically impacts on the other systems of the body: circulatory, digestion, elimination etc.
Deep regulated breathing helps the child’s speech, health, emotions, well-being, mood, quality of sleep and ability to relax.
Deep Pressure Massage
Massage is both stimulating and calming to all the systems of the body and prepares the child for asanas/ postures.
Massage works on stimulating the nervous system. For many children with additional needs, especially ADHD and ASD who’s nervous system is running in ‘flight or fight’ (sympathetic NS) mode, massage works very effectively in calming the children and bringing them into ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic NS). When the children are in this state they are more able to communicate and follow instruction and guidance effectively.
Asanas are the poses. The poses help to realign the body, increase and regulate breathing capacity and function, release tensions and limitations, and increase strength and flexibility.
A mindful practice is important for the child as it starts to help the child to develop body awareness as well as concentration.
Relaxation is a very important part of the practice. It is the time when the child assimilates all the benefits of the practice. Deep relaxation helps all the systems of the body. It is a time of healing, calming and releasing tensions from the nervous system. Deep relaxation is a state of mind and body.
Singing / Chanting
When we use singing during asana and massage it can help to release muscular and emotional tensions and it can be very relaxing for deep relaxation.
Using movements with the rhythm help to develop concentration and memory, and hand to eye co-ordination and motor planning.
My Special Yoga Training
I completed Special Yoga level 1, 200hr training in November 2017 with the Special Yoga Foundation under the excellent teaching of Jyoti Jo Manuel and her team. Click on the image below to find out more about the Special Yoga Foundation.
In 2019 I completed a further 300hr Special Yoga 2 training to deepen my practice of the special yoga technique. I am now a Senior Special Yoga practitioner.
Additional training/ CPD courses:
Soothing the anxious child, Special Yoga and BreathBodyMind, Jyoti Manuel, Dr Brown & Dr Gerbarg, April 2022, 12hrs CPD.
Yoga & Eating disorders
Eating struggles, Nicole Schnackenberg and Jyotin Manuel, Feb 2021, 90mins
The science of Yoga and eating disorders, Chelsea Roff, Eatbreaththrive.org, March 2021, 4hrs