What I love most about yoga is the freedom that it brings. There is something about matching breath with movement that propels you beyond the mundane and towards the extraordinary, to a sense of awareness that is often hard to come by. Once we are aware of our capabilities and limitations we are able to truly respect ourselves and those around us.
When I decided I wanted to become a teacher, I knew that my initial 200 hour certification was just the beginning. Once I began to learn about and experience the benefits of yoga, I wanted to share and teach it to all bodies – young, old, pregnant, healthy, sick, and particularly children and young adults with special needs.
I am lucky to have a husband that has been involved with the Special Olympics program in Northern Virginia for many years. Through his volunteer work, I have been able to meet so many remarkable families and athletes that truly inspire me. After spending several softball and basketball seasons watching his teams’ development, I wanted to find a way to get more involved and couldn’t help but think of the benefits that yoga could bring to this community. Once I began researching, I quickly realized that yoga classes for the differently abled were not readily available in our area.
After seeking out specialized training, I found an amazing teacher who has been working with children with special needs for 30+ years. During my training with Sonia Sumar, I learned how to modify and customize the practice of yoga for all bodies. I heard her tell story after story of the changes that yoga has made for the children she has worked with. I listened to parents’ accounts of their children’s improvements in self confidence, body awareness, reasoning, concentration, and strength.
My goal in every yoga class I teach is to create an encouraging and positive environment where each practitioner can feel at their personal best. Yoga classes for students with Special Needs teach mantras (chantings), pranayama (breath), asana (yoga postures), and yoga nidra (deep relaxation). Through these teachings, I hope to create a social opportunity for students while building body awareness, self confidence, and a mutual trust.
In the words of Sonia Sumar, “By letting go of our fears and negativity, and learning to see the best in ourselves and others, we can provide a powerful impetus for positive change. It is through this ability to go beyond preconceived notions and external appearances that we can transform our lives and those of our children.”
With Sonia Sumar upon completion of Yoga for the Special Child, Basic Training Level 1.