5 Tips for Teaching Yoga to Students with Disabilities

Yoga has many benefits and those benefits apply to those living with intellectual and physical disabilities as well as the general population.  The beauty of yoga is that modifications are limitless. The class may not look like a typical yoga class but this is where modifications and creativity come into play.  When teaching anything new instructors should be well informed about the audience and prepared to provide a class to meets the needs of those who are participating.  For example, those living with Down’s syndrome tend to have low muscle tone and are susceptible to respiratory problems so yoga poses like warrior, mountain pose and pranayama (deep breathing) and may address those medical issues.

 Here are five tips for teaching yoga to students with disabilities:

1. Do Your Research. For example, find out what are some of the challenges for someone living with Down’s syndrome.

2. Find Solutions. Determine what areas may beneficial for the class such as meditation, light stretching, pranayama (deep breathing), positive affirmations, and specific asanas.

3. Use Props. Consider any intellectual and physical limitations and determine how the benefits of yoga can be accomplished with the aid of props such as chairs, bolsters, blocks, straps and visual imagery that appeals to the audience.

4. Develop a Plan. Once solutions are identified those solutions must be narrowed down even further to fit seamlessly into an effective class format, leaving room for creativity in case something doesn’t work out.

5. Welcome Feedback. Feedback is essential so you can hone your craft and determine what did or did not work.

This article originally appeared in gaia.