Wondering what Yoga for the Special Child Basic 1 is like? Who can take the program? What will participants be prepared for after taking YSC? Check out this video, which runs down the basics.
Yoga for the Special Child Basic 1 starts Sunday! There's still time to register, but we're close to capacity. So better sign up, if you're planning to join us next week.
Also, join us July 19th at 7PM for a Satsang (community gathering) with Sonia Sumar, who created the Yoga for the Special Child method.
Yoga for the Special Child Basic 1 program begins in Evanston in just over a month! This week-long training is taught by Sonia Sumar, creator of the Yoga for the Special Child® method. Sonia has been teaching this method to kids for over forty years and now brings her training to all corners of the world. We are so lucky to have her in our own backyard.
YSC Basic 1 is for anyone who has an interest in learning to teach yoga to kids with special needs. You do not have to be a yoga teacher. This program is especially useful for parents, teachers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, social workers, and yoga teachers. Participants will receive enough hours to become accredited as RCYT with Yoga Alliance (if already a yoga teacher), after completing Basic 1 & 2. But you can start teaching kids up to age 12 right after you finish the program.
Participants will learn from Sonia herself - how to engage and focus students through yoga chants, breathing exercises, yoga poses, and guided relaxation, as well as how to evaluate students and utilize appropriate exercises for their condition. A very special part of the program is the opportunity to see Sonia teach demo classes with children, which gives participants the chance to see the method in action. You will leave feeling prepared to apply yoga techniques to a wide variety of "limitations" and "needs". And best of all, you will have the chance to deepen your own yoga practice, under the guidance of this living yoga legend!
Register here (or below) to reserve your spot. Any questions can be directed to the program coordinator for Evanston, Erin. More info here.
I found an old article in Yoga Chicago about Sonia Sumar, who trained Jennie and I in the Yoga for the Special Child (YSC) method. Sonia is the "guru" of teaching yoga to children with special needs. She developed YSC after her daughter was born with Down Syndrome in 1972.
This article shows her working in her center in Evanston - where she taught for many years - though she now lives in Florida. At Five Keys Yoga, we aim to continue her legacy in Chicagoland by providing the Yoga for the Special Child method and classes that welcome adults with special needs. We are honored to serve the special needs population in Chicago.
Are you interested in Yoga for the Special Child? Check out information about our kids classes here.
Often, yoga teachers assume that stating “find your natural breath” is a helpful tool in teaching the exercise of regulating and controlling the breath. We stop here and simply suggest connecting back with this breath once the physical practice (Asana) begins. The practice of breathing is much more meaningful then simply “focusing on the breath”. Of course this is a great place to start, but once the practice of simply observing is established we reach a new point: the practice of controlling the breath (Pranayama). In some cases, additional support is needed when teaching this idea to young ones. Pranayama is a crucial practice in yoga and we must take time to teach it in a way that introduces breath in meaningful, strategic way. Careful introduction to Pranayama can make all the difference when seeking a richer, more balanced mind and body. Below are 3 techniques that you may find helpful when teaching breath to younger children (ages 2-6), but any child or even adult can benefit from these simple techniques.
1. Tactile/Visual Support: Using something tactile is not only engaging, but helps children connect with a more rhythmic, steady breath by providing a visual representation of how the breath moves in/out and begins the awareness of the natural, fluid, movement. My favorite (and works EVERY time) is the Hoberman Ball. Kids will watch intently has the ball expands/contracts. Have a class leader to support positive participation. Other options for visual representation of the breath include bubbles, wind spinners, and feathers; think light, soft, and airy.
2. Belly Breathing Buddy: Gently place your hand or “breathing buddy” on the child’s belly. We call it “riding the breathing wave” and kids love to take a friend on a ride. Observing the rise and fall, this technique gives children a place to focus attention when directing breath into the belly. Another option if you don’t have a buddy is gently resting your hand on the child’s belly and cuing “breathe into my hand." Using your hand is effective if the child is not sensitive to touch, which is important to consider before beginning this technique.
3. Making Sounds on the Exhale: This can be as simple as “om” or something like “uuuu jjaaaii yeeee” pronouncing “Ujjayi” to extend the exhale to completion and also leaves students in a smile when finished. Bee’s Breath, also known as Bhramari, also works well. Practice together by making a humming sound like a bee, trying to direct the vibrations of the hum into the head. Couple the Bee's Breath with Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) by covering the ears and/or closing the eyes. This places the focus inward, on the breath and minimizes external distractions.
With these techniques, introducing children to breath can be both stimulating and natural. Most importantly, take time with the child. Listen to what the child needs in the moment, observe how they are naturally breathing, and invite them to explore with you by being a model of patience and consistency.
by Jennie Best
Guest blogger Jennie Best teaches kids and adult classes, and is a Yoga for the Special Child practitioner with Five Keys.
Some press about the good yoga may do for people with mental illness. This is an inspiring video and I'm so glad to see others teaching yoga to this population. Everyone deserves a peaceful life!
Yoga and Mental Illness
I would like to draw attention to a claim made in the video that "studies have shown the positive effect of yoga on a range of mental illnesses." The evidence on yoga's effect on people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar is pretty minimal. Although there have been a few studies, it's too early to draw definitive conclusions.
However, I am continually impressed by the changes my students with mental illness make in a few short weeks. I consistently get comments like, "I feel so relaxed," "I'm in a better mood," and "I practice yoga at home too." They are clearly feeling benefits, which is enough for the moment. I am so proud to teach for Trilogy.
Erin Haddock is the director of Five Keys Yoga, LLC.