Yoga has been practiced for centuries. It helps to reduce stress levels, combines physical activity with self-awareness and creates a mind-to-body connection which many children with special needs lack. Yoga also improves oxygen levels and increases lung capacity, and the various breathing techniques help in an increased flow of oxygen to the brain which has numerous benefits.
Madeleine Sears and Sowmya Ayyar are two women from the United States living in India, focuses on teaching and researching Yoga for special needs’ children. They have collaborated with various schools and organizations where they teach Yoga. They organize two weekly yoga classes for about 50 special needs’ children at Tamahar Trust for Children with Special Needs. Classes include asana, pranayama, mantra, mudra and meditation, depending on the children’s physical and emotional levels.
- They also have yoga therapy for conditions such as obesity, depression, diabetes, arthritis and other physical and mental health issues.
- They also offer acupressure for children with special needs.
- They have also collaborated with Bubbles Centre for Autism where they teach yoga to around 80 students twice a week.
The biggest challenge is to keep the children engaged and motivated throughout the classes. Sears elaborates,
Sometimes they just sit and not do anything and sometimes they become hyper-active and actually start hitting the teachers and students around them. So, we have to take extra care and be well prepared for everything.Another thing required is patience. You can’t be harsh with the children. “We have to come up with various interesting ways to keep the children active,” says Sears.
How you can help?
Prafull Oorja is looking for trained teachers of yoga, art, dance, music and more to share their passion and skills with any community who could benefit from their services. You can also help them with office support and organization, outreach and awareness building, research assistance, fund-raising and the like.