Firefly has tried yoga. It’s really difficult. It hurts. And it’s uncomfortable. For anyone.

So is it really possible for a child with mobility issues or any disability to take part? And not just take part, but actually benefit?

Firefly will champion ‘Special Needs Family Participation’ every chance we get, we want to see the whole family involved in as many activities as possible regardless of disabilities. But wouldn’t yoga be a step too far?

Surely if anything is going to divide the able-bodied from those with disabilities it would be something as physically and mentally demanding as yoga, wouldn’t it?

Well, it seems the answer is no.

Stuart Robertson runs 1-2-1 Yogatherapy and has been running yoga sessions with kids at the Victoria Education Centre in Poole (UK).

Stuart explained: “We set up the yoga programme four years ago. It lets the children get out of their wheelchairs for a while during the day, which is a really welcome break for them. The main focus is on movement with breath – we practise yogic breathing and then introduce gentle movement. Some children can do exercises alone, while some need a little help from staff.”

An important point to make is that every person taking part in the class is given guidance, support and encouragement to achieve as much as they can. Some will be able to do more than others, some will need help, some will surprise everyone with what they’re capable of.

Stuart explained: “I was surprised at how well the children were able to engage with the breathing and their ability to really focus. Like any type of yoga, it encourages self-awareness on a mental, emotional and physical level.”

I think the main thing the children get from the sessions is a deep sense of relaxation. The teachers at the school report that they are more focused.”

Frederique Sardais, another Adaptive Yoga teacher, who runs sessions at Yoga West London, told Firefly about similar results her clients displayed.

Frederique said: “When one young lady started with us, she had bad spasms and was reluctant to participate. But now she is up and out of her chair, enjoying the sessions and her spasms have receded a lot. Another pupil was often agitated and distracted but is now much more calm and coordinated.”

So it seems that not only is yoga participation possible for children and young people with disabilities, it can actually have real, tangible benefits.

Firefly may even try giving it another go ourselves.

Namaste.

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