Our work with special needs children featured in a short BBC video produced by Hannah Gelbart and Warren Moran. The video showcases the work of Special Yoga — and the benefits of it expressed in the words of the children with whom we work — as part of holistic strategy to assist autistic children in schools.
Pupil: ‘Yoga tells the worries to go away’
At this special educational needs school in north London, children on the autism spectrum practice yoga every week.
It’s been so successful that the school is sending its teachers on a yoga teacher training course so that they can incorporate yoga classes into the curriculum.
In the words of schools and paediatric professional, parents and the children themselves, the benefits of Special Yoga and mindfulness are clear. You can explore more of our special stories — including testimonials from other schools in which we’ve worked — below.
Testimonial from Queensmill School
Very many thanks once again to you and your team for the Special Yoga training you delivered. The well-being of staff is of such prime importance however, the uniqueness of your programme is that it provides opportunities for good practice to be integrated into helping our children and young people manage the challenges and anxieties they face.
The approach and core philosophy espoused integrates so well with our ethos and practice for managing stress, conflict and challenge and so it will embed into and enhance our practice.
I will recommend the programme to other Special Heads as discussed.
— Freddie Adu, Head, Queensmill School | November 2017
Tracy shares her brave story of raising identical twins, Isaiah and Zion, where Isaiah has a form of non-verbal autism. After hearing about Special Yoga from a friend, she thought she would overcome her hesitations of trying yoga and discovered the wonderful benefits of it, the supportive nature of the of practitioners and how it has helped them as a family.
Special Yoga is a truly amazing place. We arrived here over 4 years ago with a little 2 year old boy called George. We were unsure of the future ahead for George and were desperate for some help.
George is a very poorly boy, complex health needs, severe epilepsy, undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition, visually impaired and the list goes on! He had no muscle tone and no awareness of his body or the world around him. At 6 months old he was given only months to live and it felt like we were left alone by other professionals to just enjoy what little time we had left. We looked into and tried anything and everything with no difference until we found Special Yoga.
Once we spoke to Jo Manuel we felt this was our life line and I cannot tell you how much it has helped not only George but our whole family too.
We live in Kettering, Northamptonshire and it takes us 2 hours to get to the centre but that really does not matter, it is so worth it. Jo has been amazing and such a talented lady and cannot thank her enough for all the help and support she has given us over the years.
George is now almost 7 years old, has amazed all his professionals and is getting stronger and stronger. Yoga has taught him about his body, how to use his poorly lungs to their best. He loves to chant (which when he is well he can make his own noises and very distinctly chants “Hari Om”). He has 2 younger sisters who both love yoga, I myself have taken up yoga practising and have overcome post natal depression with lots of help from Kathy Osbourne (yoga teacher at Special Yoga).
I feel that Special Yoga is my extended family and would love for all their much needed work to carry on. There is so many families like ours out there who need Special Yoga.
Love Donna xxx
(The Butterworth Family)
Testimonial from Jack Tizard School
Christine has been working with my class (young learners with severe and profound multiple learning difficulties, complex health needs and physical difficulties) for a year now.
Both the pupils and the staff members look forward to our weekly yoga sessions. Christine’s approach is based on thorough knowledge of yoga and learning/ physical difficulties, and this knowledge allows for flexible and inclusive practice that suits the needs of our pupils.
During the Special Yoga sessions, pupils learned about their bodies and how they could move their bodies in different positions. They began to be aware of and use muscles, and perform poses that we would not normally address in our everyday lives. Pupils also benefitted from the sequencing and routine of the sessions, which made them calmer and more focused for the rest of the day. The yoga lessons create a wonderful sense of community; the pupils can see each other and can get close to each other to interact with one another whilst following the poses.
Special Yoga helped in particular with:
- Contributing towards regulating and encouraging bowel movements
- Learning specific poses such as the ‘bridge pose’ which then helped pupils to be more actively involved in their personal care routines by being able to lift their bottoms up
- Strengthening core muscles which contributes towards better posture
- Balancing (sitting, standing, walking)
- Developing cognitive skills such as body awareness/ spatial awareness/ learning about directions
- Learning language relating to body parts, movement and directions
- Further developing early communication skills such as making choices, basic interaction and vocalisations
Jack Tizard School
Do you have a moving experience relating to Special Yoga and the work that we do? We would love to hear your story! Email us firstname.lastname@example.org
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot. Together we can do great things.” – Mother Teresa
As humans, we are social beings. We rely on each other to communicate our thoughts, emotions and stories to inspire the actions that make a lasting impact on society. This is why we encourage you to share your special stories with us. Together, we can do great things.