Yoga for Children with Special Needs

My boys have been taking yoga in some way since they were babies. We were lucky enough that our child care center offered it as part of the curriculum so even infants were visited by a trained yoga professional. I also took a park and rec yoga class many years ago that I absolutely loved. It really relaxed me and provided me with a nice quiet space to clear my head…before I truly needed one.

For a few years I’ve been looking for a parent/child class to take with Max. We both run at a high level of stress and anxiety and I wanted a way for us to connect and  was also looking for techniques to help us both take a minute to regroup and change focus when needed. He really responded to the class at daycare and I felt he needed more. Enter blogger extraordinaire Dena Fleno. She sent me an article about Lucy Rosenblatt and the yoga classes she runs for children with special needs. I contacted Lucy right away and Max and I started attending class the very next week.

Lucy’s class for younger children is technically for children with Autism. Max is not on the Autism Spectrum, but his differences are very similar and after telling Lucy about Max, she felt he’d fit in well. I didn’t quite know what to expect for the first class, but after it was over I knew Max and I had found what we were looking for. As Dena called her, Lucy is a gentle soul. She knew most of the kids in class from a summer session she held and welcomed the rest of us with class introductions. Her demeanor with both the parents and the children made it obvious that she understands the needs of this set of children and made for a very soothing environment. She gently encouraged each child to participate, but was willing to adjust to the particular requests or actions of each child. The class schedule was predictable and consistent each week, and she also posted each pose and breath in the order of which the class will work on them so kids could follow along and anticipate what was coming next.

The yoga poses and breathing exercises practiced in the class are ones that may challenge some kids slightly, but in a good way. Lucy also incorporated easy dance movements into the routine. There’s a copy dance, where one child gets in the middle and the rest of us imitate his movements. Each week I’m amazed at the fact that each child does this without coaxing from Lucy or his grown up. (I keep saying his as there were only boys in the class this session). Another dance portion that I was surprised at was one where we all joined hands and made a train around the studio. I will admit that during the first few classes I was surprised with the ease with which all the children took the hands of a complete stranger for several minutes. My incorrect understanding of children with Autism was that they didn’t like to be touched but the boys in the class definitely taught me otherwise. It’s  my most important take away from the class. Don’t generalize; get to know someone.

Another great aspect of Lucy’s class is that for $5, she will burn a cd of all the music used in the class for at home yoga sessions. We used ours to have “yoga class” while we were trapped in the house during the recent hurricane. I keep the cd in my car in case we ever need it for particularly trying car rides. Even if we can’t do yoga in the car, the music relaxes all of us.

Lucy also offers a class for older children and adults with special needs (see info on that below).

Classes are held at Sacred Movement Yoga Studio in Bishop’s Corner in West Hartford so parking is really easy. The next session begins on Tuesday January 8th. The session runs for 7 weeks and class is held from 4:00 – 4:45 p.m. The cost for each class is $12 and payment is on a class by class basis (and there is an ATM around the corner if you’re always forgetting cash like me). Caregivers are required to stay, and if you have to bring a sibling, they can attend class for an additional $6. Though attendance at each class is encouraged so children can learn the routine and remain comfortable with their surroundings, we missed a few classes and Max was fine. Also, if class is cancelled because of weather, you’re not paying for a class you didn’t take.

Max and I will be at the next session and we hope you’ll join us. If you are interested in registering for the class you can email Lucy at Tell her you read about the class here. Even if your child is not on the Spectrum, I urge you to reach out to Lucy to discuss if he or she would still be a good fit for the class. I’m so glad we did.

I was not asked to write or compensated for writing this post. Max and I signed up for the class on our own and had such a wonderful experience that I asked Lucy if I could share with all of you. 

4 thoughts on “Yoga for Children with Special Needs

  1. OH! This is so amazing! What an incredible instructor and incredible class! And even more magical that it is so affordable! I’m so amazingly happy to hear about this wonderful, wonderful program!!

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