Asanas for Autism and Special Needs

April 10, 2015

Posted By: Shaunescy

More and more I feel inline with the notion that the universe connects you with what you need, if you are ready for it. It's one of the central ideas that I love about yoga. Teachers show up when you are ready to learn. That may be consistency bias or just a self-soothing premise, but I do find that attitude is really everything when it comes to one's sense of well-being.

Recently, I've been teaching Aerial Yoga . I teach because my work on myself feels good and I want to share that. In the studio, I work with adults and at home I work with my kids. Both settings are filled with a sense of playfulness and intention. So when a friend of a friend posted a blurb about this book on Facebook, I reached out and started a conversation with author, Shawnee Thornton Hardy. And although our practices are different I am fully impressed with the work she is doing.

Excerpted from her website:

"Shawnee has worked with children with autism and special needs for 15 years. She has specialized in working with children who have significant cognitive and language delays, sensory processing deficits, as well as severe behavior problems. Shawnee developed a passion for teaching early on and found her niche in teaching special education. 

Through her study and experience teaching yoga to her students in her classroom, she quickly realized the benefits of yoga on her students attention and focus, reduced anxiety, body awareness and development of calming strategies. She also noticed the positive reaction from her students and the excitement they displayed each time they practiced yoga. She has experienced first hand the benefits yoga can provide to health and overall well-being. She has a unique combination of understanding autism and other special needs and knowing how to teach and reach these young people. Her goal is to bring the experience of yoga to all individuals no matter their differences or challenges"

What I find particularly notable about her book though is the depth and breadth of information. I think it is a great resource for any parent or teacher who works with children, whether they have special needs or not. It's all about meeting the student where they are at.

As a parent, I feel that my role is to help my kids form strategies and to give them tools to turn to as they expand and explore just who they are. Tools to rely on as they move through the world as an emotional, physical and spiritual being.

Shawnee's book covers a lot of ground. What is Yoga? Aspects and features of a variety of special needs. How to teach about body parts. Breathing, breath awareness and guided imagery. Communicating about emotions. As well as Asanas. All combined in a practice that helps children with self-regulation and body awareness.

As I stated above, I feel that these are topics are important for all children and adults. Her voice comes across the page beautifully, frankly and gently. With the many suggestions and explanations of yoga games, visual aides and breathing techniques, Asanas for Autism and Special Needs is a book that gives parents, teachers and educators simplified and step-by-step tools to help a child develop more fully in those fundamental ways.

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