Nirodhaḥ Yoga Blog
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.
Hi, my name is Erin Haddock, I’m with Five Keys Yoga here in Chicago, Illinois. And this summer we’re hosting an unbelievable training with Sonia Sumar, who created the yoga for the special child method and wrote the book “Yoga for the Special Child”. She created this method for her daughter Roberta, who is born with down syndrome and now travels around the world, bringing this program to people who want to learn how to teach kids with special needs yoga.
So I thought I would make this video for our participants who are arriving in about a week as well as people who might still be on the fence about what to expect during the program. So this program runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the 15th through the 20th. And at the completion of the program you’ll be given a certificate of completion for I believe is the 48 hours that you attend. After you attend this program, if you wish, you can attend Basic 2. And if you are a yoga teacher or become one, you can use these two trainings to become registered with yoga alliance as a certified children's yoga instructor.
However, the training isn’t open just for yoga teachers. In fact, we have many parents, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, special education teachers as well as yoga teachers and people who just want to learn how to teach kids yoga. In fact, that's how I started, I wasn't a therapist, I wasn't a parent or a teacher. I just had this desire to learn how to make yoga accessible for people with special needs.
When I took my first training with Sonia my entire perspective changed, not only about how I practice yoga but about what yoga really means, what it is. It completely changed the way that I look at the world. And I'm so excited for these people who are coming in next week for the first time meeting Sonia and learning about their own bodies and minds.
During the training you will be prepared to evaluate new students as well as specific techniques for working with children who might have limited mobility or limited attention span. And the absolute highlight of the program is the opportunity to see Sonia work with three students as demo students, it's a really special part of the program that all the participants love.
So we’re hosting the training here at Five Keys Yoga. I would love to see you here, either this year or another year, when we host the Yoga for the Special Child program again.
Thank you. Namaste.
For the first time ever we are able to offer classes for all our young yogis and yoginis - toddlers through teens! This has been a dream for a long time and we are so excited to offer a full range of classes for kids and young adults. Each class will be led by a certified Yoga for the Special Child practitioner. The 5-week sessions run November 4th - December 10th, with no classes during Thanksgiving weekend. Learn more here.
We are always looking for feedback on best class times and days. If you haven't already (or if things have changed) please fill out this short survey!
You might think mindfulness and meditation are only for adults, but kids and teens can also experience great benefits from these practices. All you need to teach these skills are an appropriate approach and a patient attitude. Parents should practice these exercises with their kids. This helps them see that even adults need to work on calming down, and reinforces that this is a life-long practice. Practicing together also builds a deep connection between you and your child.
Most of these exercises are done sitting and preferably with the eyes closed (except for the raisin and walking meditations). In each of these exercises, start by preparing your child to relax. Depending on your child's age and ability, a few gentle stretches can make the body feel more comfortable. Make sure where you are meditating is free from distractions and feels cozy. If it's appropriate, dim the lights. Ask your child to come into a comfortable position sitting, standing or lying down, depending on which meditation you are practicing. Almost all of these practices are appropriate for both kids and teens.
As with all mindfulness exercises, it is best not to practice with expectations for how (or how long) your child will meditate. Let them develop their practice gradually - start with a few seconds for young or restless kids, and encourage them by praising what they've accomplished. Eventually, they will come to enjoy the peaceful feeling and will meditate longer, naturally. At that point, you might encourage your child to describe how they feel after meditating.
If your child gets frustrated, let them know it is normal for thoughts to wander away from where we want them. You might even throw in a personal example. That's what meditation is all about. It's why we practice! To learn to bring our thoughts back under control.
Exercises adapted from Yoga for the Special Child and Yoga for Teens.
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.
This short meditation for kids is very relaxing. It's great to do before bed, before school, or anytime you just need a break! Find a comfy place, close your eyes, and get ready to relax...
Yoga for Kids starts October 4th. Register here.
Are you looking for a way to get kids moving in an expressive way with structure to boot?! Check out GoNoodle!
As an educator, I have found these videos beneficial during transitional times with students who find unstructured times in their schedule slightly more difficult to manage. It also has proven beneficial in preparing bodies and minds for instructional times when students are asked to do more demanding or challenging tasks. Integrating these or any movement breaks into a person’s daily schedule is a wonderful practice for developing a balanced and productive learning/living environment. These videos are great for school teachers, parents, and/or givers that are looking to integrate a therapeutic approach to teaching children self-awareness and regulation skills. They even have little characters you can assign to “complete quests” where children (or adults☺) can receive awards and certificates!
At GoNoodle, you will find a plethora of exciting, motivating stretch and strength videos geared towards relieving anxiety, living in the moment, and being kind to yourself. Students follow along with certified instructor to develop skills that assist in gaining focus and finding a place of calamity. Below are a couple of my favorites.
You can find any of these videos under the “Channels” tab on the site. Be sure to sign up for FREE first!
Guest blogger Jennie Best teaches kids' and adult yoga classes, and is a Yoga for the Special Child practitioner with Five Keys.
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.
Just some thoughts about yoga as I go...
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