In yoga, we expand our hearts and minds to include all that are around us and the feeling is often ecstatic.
Children with additional needs have as much need for connection as any of us, and they often get fewer opportunities than others to fulfil this need.
Because they are often in relative isolation or in environments (Including hospitals and centres) that are more sterile there is often less opportunity for connection. Children with ASD can also experience difficulty with verbal communication and self-expression. This means that working with the elements of conscious touch and human connection is even more important, more transformative, and more healing than anywhere else.
In most team sports and organised activities, the coach may put the emphasis on being aggressive and competitive, as in professional sports. The goal is to win, and not to get together or have fun.
With an over-emphasis on performance and winning, children with additional needs may find few opportunities to be included in school, after-school, and weekend team sports. This is where yoga is so incredible for these amazing children, allowing them to connect and interact with other children on a platform that doesn’t make them feel inferior.
Motion keeps the body healthy and full of vitality. It improves circulation and digestion, it is grounding and mood-enhancing. And even more so when we do it together, as with each other’s help we can do so much more and for longer, stretching farther, balancing in ways we cannot on our own, and warming each other’s hearts with our eyes, our words, and our hands.
Our goal here is not to "heal" the child, but to improve their quality of life and bring connection and joy wherever possible. When the person feels uplifted, healing occurs from inside of them, even if looking from the outside they still may look disabled to us.
By shifting from ‘fixing’ to ‘connecting’ we allow the child the safe space that they need to discover the skills they need to achieve through their own efforts.
People are much more complex than machines. ‘Fixing’ a person is not like changing parts or tightening screws. The brain and the body are magical, miraculous creations that can build themselves up given the time, the space, the nurturing, the support and the love needed.
If we connect to our students through presence, excitement and mindful care, we create the space for their own bodies and minds to do the fantastic things they were made to do. This is Rainbow Yoga!