Dhara, a Senior Special Yoga Practitioner who heads up our Development & Support initiatives, reports back on our fantastic experiences at the Birmingham NEC OT Show.
This was the first time Special Yoga had taken a stand at the Occupational Therapy Exhibition. We really didn’t know what to expect. The NEC was a daunting city of endless car parks and confusing signage. During the set-up, I looked at the amount of equipment, kit and expense that had gone into all the other stands and smiled. We had a couple of yoga mats under the table, and a blackboard! Karuna arrived on the morning of the show and brought along the banner which MoreYoga had created for us to use when we appeared with them at The Om Show. We were minimalist and we were ready!
The blackboard outlined how Special Yoga’s adaptations of classical yoga techniques, working with breath, movement, deep relaxation and mindfulness, are an effective set of therapeutic tools for Occupational Therapists and paediatric professionals. The other side of the blackboard listed details of our bespoke and standalone training. Then the doors opened and we learned very quickly exactly why we were there!
At times the stand was ten deep with people wanting to hear about the principles and practices of Special Yoga and our training courses.
We focused on areas of interest, pointing out how Special Yoga can benefit Occupational Therapists in their core areas of work: assessments, treatments, CPD requirements and service development, and how adaptive methods can work across all populations that OTs work with. We didn’t forget discussion of the personal wellbeing of the therapists themselves either!
Lucy, who joined us on the stand on day two, combines her Occupational Therapy role with her training as a Special Yoga practitioner. She had prepared a checklist showing how and where Special Yoga fits within the toolkit of an Occupational Therapist. This helped us keep everything relevant, but we needn’t have had concerns about the synergy between Occupational Therapy and Special Yoga. Conversations explored how yoga works for sensory integration and sensory diets, self-regulation and mental resilience, transitioning support, physical movement and flexibility, and echoed current scientific advances in neuroscience and polyvagal research. Discussions were always lively and our little stall was often crowded.
Our passion was shared and around 200 Occupational Therapsists signed up for more information about integrating Special Yoga techniques into their Occupational Therapy practices. We met many more over the two day show.
Because we specialise in delivering bespoke training based on the needs of our clients, we were able to talk to a wide range of people, no matter whether they were a team of OTs from Peterborough who wanted to access training throughout their NHS group, OTs working in schools looking into insets and school training, CAMHS teams looking at our Mental Health resilience programmes, university lecturers and students seeing that it would be a valuable addition to include within the curriculum for OT students, or any other strand of the professions we were engaging with. The diversity within the hall was matched by our quotation, ‘Yoga is for everyone’, from Kirdi’s blog post ‘Special Yoga from an Occupational Therapist’s Perspective’.
The final piece was the opportunity to do a half hour demonstration at the showcase theatre on both days.
Karuna took over the stage, the mic and the audio visual button. The screen showed our introductory video to the course Special Yoga for Special Children (you can watch it here on our Special Yoga for Special Children training course page). Karuna offered a wonderful explanation of our principles and what we offer, and then allowed the audience to experience some yoga for themselves.
The audience experienced a short relaxation practice, incorporating working with the breath, a full range of movement from their seats, a balance and a guided body scan, and to end, a taste of connecting to the heart. Over 200 people gathered for the first day. The show’s co-ordinator, while letting us know that of all the speeches she’s ever listened to at these events, ours was one of the best she had experienced, she nonetheless had to say that people standing three deep in the aisles as the chairs were all full was a health and safety risk! However, it didn’t seem to matter in the end, as we had just as many people the following day, all enjoying an oasis of peace in the maelstrom of the show.
It was such an amazing experience. Fantastic to witness how much interest, enthusiasm and desire there is in the Occupational Therapy world to access our training. The response was overwhelming, and evidence that Special Yoga and Occupational Therapy is a wonderful marriage. We are looking forward to further collabarative adventures.