The most important element of a My OmAbilities Yoga class is the connection made between yoga teacher and student and, in group settings, between the students in the class. The yoga circle becomes a place where students are challenged, while feeling perfectly safe to be themselves. I’ll never forget the day one of my students, exclaimed at the end of class, “I love my yoga friends!” As students begin to make internal connections in their own body and mind, they become more able to connect with others, whether it be the yoga teacher or other students in the group. This ability to connect with others can help reduce the sense of isolation that many children with special needs encounter.

Childlight-16After we share the word, "Namaste", I smile to myself as I hear the awaited words crisply spoken by the student next to me.  "See you next week, Yoga Teacher."  Her eyes are averted as she quickly jumps up and begins to roll her mat.  It's the same each week.  The predictable words, the same choppy cadence and the oddly abrupt closure to the group yoga class bring me a deep sense of contentment.  You see, that simple phrase, repeated each week, symbolizes a connection I have made with a student who is largely non verbal, quite reserved and normally extremely anxious in group settings. 

There are countless other examples of endearing traits, predictable reactions and even some disturbing habits that I encounter when I teach yoga classes to my students with special needs.   The possibilities are endless, and I have learned to always expect the unexpected.  A yoga class with a diverse group of abilities and various special considerations will vary according to the participants in the group.

What is consistent however, is the desire of these extraordinary kids to do yoga on a regular basis.  A student might not even be able to understand or explain how yoga is helping, but will continue to come back to his or her mat and will develop better self esteem, improved self regulation, increased strength and/or flexibility and body awareness, greater confidence and reduced anxiety.  A student with cerebral palsy states simply a few times each class, "You make me feel goooood."  Between the challenges of school, OT and other therapies and busy home lives, the yoga classroom may very well be the only place a child with a disability is really able to relax during the week.

The most important element of a My OmAbilities Yoga class is the connection made between yoga teacher and student and, in group settings, between the students in the class.  The yoga circle becomes a place where students are challenged, while feeling perfectly safe to be themselves.  I'll never forget the day one of my students, exclaimed at the end of class, "I love my yoga friends!" As students begin to make internal connections in their own body and mind, they become more able to connect with others, whether it be the yoga teacher or other students in the group.  This ability to connect with others can help reduce the sense of isolation that many children with special needs encounter. 

The word, "yoga," in fact, comes from a root that means "to yoke" or "unite."  Yoga is all about connections: connecting breath with movement, body with mind and even mind with spirit.  These connections created are why yoga is such a powerful tool to reach children with different abilities.  I am so pleased to be able to offer My OmAbilities Yoga for Kids with Autism & other Special Needs at ChildLight Yoga this October and looking forward to creating many new connections in our community!

What to expect in a My OmAbilities Yoga class:

  • An accessible program designed to meet each child exactly where he or she is
  • Students with Autism, ASD, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy all in the same class
  • Movement, held poses and simple breathing exercises
  • Quiet music to relax, but minimize sensory overload
  • Gentle and repetitive cues to allow student to "get it"
  • To feel welcome and accepted
  • Care Providers participate in the class

FALL 2014 CLASS SESSION:

MONDAYS 4:00-4:45pm (Grades K-5)
Sep. 29 – Nov. 24 (No class Oct. 13)

MONDAYS 5:00-5:45pm (Grades 5-8)
Sep. 29 – Nov. 24 (No class Oct. 13)

Learn more and register online.

FALL 2014 My OmAbilities for Teens and Adults with Special Needs Teacher Training
Sep 19 – 21

Rochelle April 2013-1Rochelle Jewell is a certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher and founder of My OmAbilites Yoga and the creator of the My OmAbilities Teacher Training for Teens and Adults with Special Needs. Her creative and fluid classes are designed to meet the strengths and needs of the individuals in each class. With over 15 years of experience, Rochelle has taught traditional yoga classes throughout the Seacoast area, as well as introduced yoga to children, teens and adults living with various disabilities and illnesses. Her inviting classes and private therapeutic yoga sessions are accessible to all. Rochelle is delighted to join the ChildLight Yoga team to offer both My OmAbilities Yoga classes for Children with Autism and Special needs, and Kripalu Yoga for Adults. In addition to recently being a certified ChildLight Yoga Instructor, Rochelle has completed Zensational Kids training with Allison Morgan and is certified in Creative Relaxation Yoga Therapy (Levels 1 & 2) with Louise Goldberg.