Ballet Yoga – for children with special needs
When my daughter was diagnosed with CP we thought of ways to incorporate movement into her daily life. Once success was through a hybrid class we named Ballet-Yoga. This program addresses multiple overlapping areas of need for children with developmental disabilities including socialization, body awareness, sensory integration and overall health. The Poses knows as Asana are used in Yoga to encourage sensory integration, body awareness, increased coordination, balance and the breath known as Pranayama – helps with self regulation and calmness into the child life. We find after each class that yoga is assisting with attention, self-regulation, confidence, balanced moods and increase general body awareness.
Each weekly class we outline and celebrate the overall achievements each child is developing. It can be a tree pose or an arabesque – we make sure to review the successes in a “Pose Port”. This book of photo’s helps remind and encourage each child of the poses they are learning and incorporates fun poses for them to share. A is for Alligator and then it outlines the pose and we can incorporate it into the dance later.
This also allows for the children to bring the class home and share it with their parents and friends/family. We encourage each child to incorporate pictures of them doing the poses as well. The confidence and self-esteem blossoms as each week passes and the final class is a recital for all of the friends and family to enjoy. Each recital has been amazing to watch as each child shares pride in their yoga and ballet poses. Let’s just say not a person over 10 years old has a dry eye and all the rest are smiling from ear to ear with pride.
Ballet and Yoga are not simple activities for the typically developing person and these young children inspire us to work harder and show us more than we ever can expect. Because of the success of this program we will begin a Sport Yoga class that will have a showcase at the end like the recital and focus on balloon breathing, sharing, coordination and focus. We look forward to sharing the updates on that class with everyone soon.
Kami Evans is a Registered Yoga Teach and Children Registered Yoga Teacher, she is also a Family and Child Advocate and speaks at various events in the US and UK.