For children and teens with Cerebral Palsy yoga may help stretch and realign the spine, increase flexibility, and augment range of motion. Holding yoga poses in a gentle stretch helps relax the muscles, reducing high muscle tone, and exercising areas of low muscle tone.
Twisting poses are especially beneficial. A simple seated twist begins while sitting, rooting into the pelvis, inhale as you extend the spine/sit tall, exhale as you twist. Repeat two more times working deeper into the twist with each exhale. The last thing to rotate should be your neck with you gazing behind you. Release and return to centre. Repeat the process on the opposite side. This same exercise can be performed while lying on a mat or the floor.
There are numerous other yoga asanas which may prove especially helpful. Modify the poses as necessary, even performing many while lying on a mat or supported by an adult. Remember the goal is not a perfect pose, but the integration of body, breath, and mind. Some suggestions include:
Yoga will exercise the spine in many ways, lengthening the space between vertebrae and relaxing the pressure on nerves. As a result, nerve function is enhanced and muscle tension released, providing greater range of movement, increased coordination, and flexibility.
An exercise which is highly beneficial for children with Cerebral Palsy is to make a bolster out of a rolled-up blanket or large pillow. Have the child lie back on it with their arms resting by their sides. Gently roll and rock the bolster back and forth. This is a wonderful way to energize the spine and open the front of the body.
In addition, a focus on breathing exercises will increase spinal movement and strengthen stomach and back muscles while stimulating internal organs. Learning to use a complete breath will loosen muscles throughout the torso and increase respiratory control.
Chanting and using music will also provide needed stimulus and is most enjoyable. Often activities involving moving to music, or sitting quietly and feeling the reverberations of “Aum,” are the ones which bring the greatest happiness and contentment as the connection with sound becomes more vital than any physical limitations.
Over the past couple of years I’ve received great feedback regarding the YIMS Yoga for Special Needs course and manual. For those attending the workshop there was lots of time for hands-on experience and interaction to explain the various activities and expand on the notes in the manual. However many who bought the manual online asked for more.
We’re please to announce that we have expanded and revised the YIMS Yoga for Special Needs Manual and it is now available for purchase online as an environmentally friendly PDF download.
The new version includes everything from before:
7 Tips to Teaching Yoga to Children w Special Needs
the Most Powerful Message and Most Powerful Tool at your disposal
suggested breathing toys and props
core musculature discussion and tips to improve
4 B’s of Self Calming
description of Autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and FASD
techniques for working with each diagnosis
classroom management tips
research supporting effect of yoga for children with special needs
Plus so much MORE:
more breathing exercises & games with full descriptions
specific poses to develop core musculature
sample guided visualization
all new meditation section
extensive yoga techniques for sensory processing
safe variations of yoga poses with instructions
fun & engaging yoga games
links to videos, interviews and more
our recommended resources including books, flashcards and webinars
Every page is packed with yoga and mindfulness techniques to use as complementary therapy when working with differently abled children .
Yoga for Children with Special Needs Manual
Discover how to effectively use yoga based techniques as a complementary therapy for children with special needs. Understand the needs and challenges and explore creative, fun ways of engaging and supporting children with special needs in the practice of yoga. Covers specifics for Autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy and FASD. 51 full color pg PDF.
When my daughter Hannah was diagnosed with hemiparesis, which is a mild case of cerebral palsy, I wondered: What can I do to help her? How active should she be? And how can I not be overprotective of Hannah, especially when she goes off to school?
The answer seemed to be involving my daughter in as many activities as I could. As a result, Hannah was signed up for swimming, gym and music classes all by her first birthday. My daughter also had eight hours of physical and occupational therapy each week.
The brain is so plastic. And how active I remained with Hannah’s treatment before she turned 24 months would impact how successful her recovery would be. I was on a mission.
Then I found yoga. When a class with a few participants got cancelled, I hired the instructor to lead the lessons out of my home. At 15 months, Hannah started to crawl by incorporating the rocking table and downward dog poses in her movements. At 20 months, Hannah progressed to trying poses such as mountain, squats and elevator. Every day Hannah would get the movements more and more.
I saw such a difference in my daughter’s development that we asked the instructor to come over three times per week. Meanwhile, Hannah continued to take her usual classes and have her weekly eight hours of therapy sessions. But the yoga instruction was unique in that it was playful and enjoyable for Hannah, prompting her to consider her time with the instructor as a playdate.
When the instructor chose to pursue other interests, it encouraged me to become certified. I first took a teacher training course at a Manhattan studio for children’s yoga, followed by training and certification working with children with special needs.
The best part of the training? Not only did I learn more about Hannah’s yoga practice and how it enabled her to become increasingly aware of her body and personal space, but I was able to share this with other families, as well. Inspired by this journey, I opened a yoga studio for children on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This led me to share the benefits of yoga for children in more than five locations throughout New York City.
Four Exercises to Develop Body & Mind
Cross the mid-line. Crossing the mid-line enhances brain development. An example of this is to sit with your child, having him or her rub one’s hands together. Once the child’s hands get warm, have the child cross hands and touch opposite shoulders. This allows the child to cross the mid-line and make new neurological pathways for further brain development. Motivate your child to do this over and over again in novel ways, such as by crossing over to touch one’s knees, toes and ears.
Use the eyes. As your child grows, he or she looks at things in new ways. Once the child begins to look at books and track words, the child’s depth perception develops. While this occurs, it is crucial for your child to build the muscles behind the eyes. One method of doing this is by moving a toy the child likes in different directions, asking the child to follow the toy with his or her eyes. Another method is snapping your fingers up and down and then right to left, while your child trails the movements. Either way, have your child watch the object move at least ten times in each direction. This helps build the little muscles supporting the child’s eyes and lessens the chances for glasses.
Do core poses. As all of a person’s limbs are extensions from the core of the body, it’s essential to develop the core. Building a strong core enables a child to balance oneself both physically and mentally. Poses that support the core are the dolphin pose and boat pose. Do these and other poses with your children, allowing you each to build your strength and bond.
Sing a song. While singing to a child can help the young yogini accomplish a difficult pose, it can be especially encouraging for children who are late talkers. If for any reason you find your child not communicating, find a book that you know the child enjoys and sing each word in the story. Take the time to sing the words one by one and change your tone, emphasizing that a new word is being sung. Soon your child will be doing poses in utter relaxation, not even realizing a stronger core will result and likely a better grasp of language.
Kami Evans, the founder and an instructor at Elahi Yoga, became a certified children’s yoga instructor through Karma Kids Yoga and a certified yoga instructor for kids with special needs through Every Kids Yoga, which are both located in Manhattan. Working with her daughter and seeing remarkable improvements through yoga exercise has inspired Evans to continue with the practice and help other children to gain self-confidence and have fun through yoga.
We are thrilled to offer a new expanded, robust, and extensive online course which mirrors our weekend workshop. This is one of four online courses for you to earn your RCYT if you so desire. Anyone with interest in emergent language skills, early physical and cognitive development, teaching young children, toddlers, preschoolers and individuals with special needs and varying abilities will find this workshop highly valuable. We invite students from all countries to join us. A A prerequisite is that you have a regular yoga practice of your own.
Learn how to teach the youngest yogis as well as those with emotional and mental challenges techniques to control impulsivity and self-regulate. This workshop will provide a foundation to promote the healthy development of the hearts, minds and bodies of individuals diagnosed with: ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome, mild Cerebral Palsy and FASD. Explore creative, fun, inclusive ways to support and encourage children in the practice of yoga.
Yoga for Preschoolers/Toddlers
Yoga for ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, FASD
Music in Kids Yoga Class
Meditation for Kids
Yoga for Literacy
Using Props & Visual Assists
What You Can Expect:
You can expect the course to take 20-25 hours depending on how deep you want to go. Each topic has a wealth of information with webinars, resources, interviews, videos, and best practices curated over 2 decades of teaching kids yoga. Your access to the course will never expire. You can work at your own pace. You may want to binge and get it done quickly or take it slower, giving yourself time to integrate and apply the knowledge. There is a final written assignment which when completed you will receive a Certificate of Completion.
If you completed our earlier version of Yoga for Children with Special Needs online course and want to upgrade please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you ready to expand your Kids Yoga Expertise?
NOTE: Price listed in US$
Yoga for Preschoolers and Kids w Special Needs Online
Develop all the tools to teach yoga and mindfulness to the littlest yogis and those with unique challenges. This course is a robust exploration of movement, mindfulness, creativity, and inclusivity with a focus on language, social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. Includes: literacy, music, meditation, breath, use of props, ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, FASD.
This course is recognized by Yoga Alliance. Additional professional organization may recognize this course. Please inquire directly with them. We are happy to answer any questions: email@example.com.
Understand the needs and challenges while discovering effective ways of using yoga and mindfulness as a supplemental therapy to support children with special needs. This online course provides essential information for professionals working with children with ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Mild Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and FASD. Explore creative, fun ways to support and encourage children with special needs in the practice of yoga.
For a limited time gain access to
Sensory Processing through Yoga & Mindfulness
a special 1 hour webinar with YIMS founder Donna Freeman with specific ways yoga and mindfulness can provide essential sensory input for all children promoting greater understanding of themselves and their world.
This course includes:
3.5 hours of video training, including:
7 Tips to Teaching Yoga to Children w Special Needs webinar – 30 minutes
Yoga for Children w Autism webinar – 1 hour
Yoga for Children w ADHD webinar – 1 hour
EMBRACE: Inclusive Yoga and Creative Expression webinar – 1 hour
Take advantage of our introductory price of ONLY $197.00
Upon purchase you will be granted 31 days access to watch the webinars and download the manual. Within 48 hours your year long Teacher’s Lounge All Access Pass will arrive in your inbox.
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NEW Certificate of Completion
Want to receive a Yoga for Children w Special Needs certificate? Includes a 30 minute SKYPE discussion/Q&A with Donna Freeman to solidfy your knowledge plus a homework assignment.
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This course can be used as Yoga Alliance non-contact hours for RYTs. Additional professional organization may recognize this course. Please inquire directly with them. We are happy to answer any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the 4 webinars included in the Yoga for Children with Special Needs Online Training. You have one month to view them as many times as you’d like. We highly encourage you to print/save the accompanying HANDOUTS. You’ll also find access to the YIMS Yoga for Children with Special Needs Manual via digital download and some suggestions on getting the most out of your YIMS Teacher’s Lounge All Access Pass.
Yoga In My School is a Yoga Alliance RCYS. You can take any one of these workshop or all four. Your hours also count toward 500-RYT with Prana Yoga.
Enjoy a weekend of discovery and learning while having a blast with our hands-on, interactive workshops. Yoga In My School believes teaching kids yoga is a serious business, however we don’t take ourselves seriously and love to learn through play, no matter what our age. Join us for a weekend workshop. You’ll have fun and come away inspired and empowered with valuable tips, tools and techniques.
Please note all our in person training are listed in CD$
Spend a weekend immersed in the world of kids yoga with this fun, interactive and inspiring workshop. Teaching Kids Yoga Level 1 is a research-based foundational teacher training course, providing comprehensive education on how to effectively teach yoga to children 4-12 years of age.
Learn how to teach the youngest yogis as well as those with emotional and mental challenges techniques to control impulsivity and self-regulate. This experiential workshop will provide a foundation to promote the healthy development of the hearts, minds and bodies of individuals diagnosed with: ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome, mild Cerebral Palsy and FASD.
Empower teens to discover themselves from the inside out, foster focus and concentration. By increasing strength and flexibility, teenagers learn to nurture themselves through positive practices and relaxation, and develop health and wellness habits that last a lifetime. This training addresses how yoga and mindfulness skills advance the physical, mental, social and emotional development of teenagers.
Elevate your skills and extend your reach to include chakras, mudras, yoga in schools and the business of kids yoga. This comprehensive workshop enriches your understanding as you delve deep into child friendly yoga and mindfulness skills to help children be peaceful, positive and productive.
Access the best in kids and teen yoga teacher training from the comfort of your own home. Yoga In My School provides the highest quality kids yoga teacher training conveniently and economically. From anywhere in the world you can learn at your own pace, connect with other dedicated professionals and gain access to extensive resources.
You’ll love the ease and accessibility of our online courses while gaining valuable skills to transform your kids yoga classes.
Please note all our online courses are listed in US$
Hooray – now you can bundle all four courses (Level 1, Level 2, Teens, Preschoolers and Special Needs) together. Get your 95 hour Yoga Alliance Children’s Yoga Teacher recognized certificate while studying at home.
This self paced, in depth advanced study will provide everything you need to create amazing, interactive, and impactful yoga and mindfulness classes for children and youth from 2 to 18 years of age. Begin today and complete the course at your pace, from the comfort of your home. Support from Yoga In My School founder, Donna Freeman, is provided throughout your certification journey.
Online 95 Hour RCYT Certification. Get certified to teach youth yoga and mindfulness. Save big when you bundle all four of our flagship courses together. With self paced, at home study, you are the master of the pace you'd like to earn your certification. Support throughout from Yoga In My School founder, Donna Freeman. A personal gmail account is highly recommended for ease of access. Enroll today to earn your RCYT designation.
Discover how easy it is to teach engaging and impactful kids yoga classes. Through a combination of media and homework our 8 week online certification course offers comprehensive training for anyone interested in bringing yoga to children. This training shows how to share the joys and benefits of yoga with children ages 4-12. Whether you are wanting to incorporate yoga into work you already do with children or want to become a kids yoga instructor as a career the YIMS Kids Yoga Online Training Level 1 will inspire and empower you.
Take your knowledge deeper, expand your expertise, and do it from the comfort of your own home. This learn at your own pace course takes 20-25 hours. Topics include: Classroom Management, Mudras, Anatomy, Chakras for Children, Essential Oils, Partner Poses, Yoga in Schools, Business of Kids Yoga. Each topic has a wealth of information with webinars, resources, interviews, videos, and best practices curated over 2 decades of teaching kids yoga. Your access to the course will never expire.
Learn how to teach the youngest yogis as well as those with emotional and mental challenges techniques to control impulsivity and self-regulate. This workshop will provide a foundation to promote the healthy development of the hearts, minds and bodies of individuals diagnosed with: ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome, mild Cerebral Palsy and FASD. Anyone with interest in teaching young children, toddlers, preschoolers and individuals with special needs and varying abilities will find this workshop highly valuable. Explore creative, fun ways to support and encourage children in the practice of yoga.
Discover how to effectively engage teenagers in a supportive yoga practice. This online course certifies you to teach yoga to teens and is designed to provide you with insightful, practical and time-tested tips, tools and techniques that help teens manage stress and develop physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. Help teens increase resiliency, promote compassion, and develop health and wellness habits that last a lifetime.
Online learning with Donna is a delight! The course content is thorough, diverse, well organized, and so easy to access online. The at-your-own pace learning that’s flexible enough to fit my schedule finally made Yoga for Kids training accessible to me. Donna shares her many years of experience as a leader in Kids’ Yoga through online webinars, podcasts, free online resources and much, much more. The content that I’ve learned online makes me feel confidant to lead an engaging and fun kids’ yoga class. I’m excited to get back in the classroom and play yoga!
– Micha Flynn, M.Ed.
I have just finished an Online Kid’s Yoga Teacher Training course and feel fortunate to have came across this opportunity. The 8 week course was very manageable with work and other things happening in my life and provided me with a great starting point for my beginning of teaching kid’s yoga. Donna is wonderful, she is knowledgeable, supportive and has many skills as a teacher. I now feel confident and have the tools I need. Thank you so very much Donna for your time and work creating all these resources to share with others.
– Stella Sage
I just completed Teaching Kids Yoga Level 1 and I was very impressed. The content was thorough, broad and very informative, and Donna is very supportive and encouraging. Even the resources provided through the course and through the website is helpful and impressive. I’m looking forward to taking other trainings in the future.
– Melissa Austin
Taking the Kids Yoga Training Course with Donna Freeman is one of the best things I have done lately. A wonderful and engaging teacher, fantastic and meaningful content. Individualized attention to each and every student. I got this and more out of this experience. Highly recommended!!
– Mapy Chavez Askins
We HIGHLY encourage Trauma Informed Training for everyone working in the yoga community
Explore trauma using yoga and mindfulness as tools for healing. This course examines key concepts in understanding trauma, the impact it has upon the mental, physical and emotional body, and provides vital tools to create a safe, healing environment. This compassionate exploration and learning opportunity invites study and reflection to unlock the body, befriend the inner experience and foster positive response patterns. The primary focus of this training is understanding trauma. The secondary focus is on assisting children, youth and families.
These courses count toward continuing education credits with Yoga Alliance. Additionally they count toward earning your 300 HR RYT certification with Lahari Ambassador Yoga.
Described as “a unique triumph,” this guide will provide parents and teachers with all they need to know to practise yoga with kids. This one-of-a-kind book shows you step-by-step how to teach yoga to kids aged 3-12. Here you’ll find
pose descriptions with cheerful models
suggestions for asthmatics
relaxation techniques with easy to implement five minute guided imagery sessions
a multitude of fun yoga games and activities, and
a section on yoga for special needs.
Each of the 10 yoga adventure stories have French translations and take 20-40 minutes to complete, making it perfect for meeting the Daily Physical Activity (DPA) requirement. Included are 108 classroom applications for Preschool to Grade 6, along with numerous ideas to incorporate yoga into the program of studies taught in schools. In depth yet ultimately usable, Once Upon a Pose was designed for teachers, parents, and anyone interested in working with children. Doing yoga with your kids has never been easier.
Donna Freeman carries the torch onward to keep imagination in children’s education and lives, connecting mind with the body to keep children healthy and literate. – Sydney Solis, founder of Story Time Yoga
Once Upon a Pose is a unique triumph! Donna Freeman has successfully produced a comprehensive and ingenious guide for students and teachers. She represents a strong voice in thoughtful demonstrating the value of yoga on the body and mind. I’m particularly impressed on the coverage given to special needs cases with ADHD, autism and Downs and the way she connects yoga poses and storytelling. It’s truly the first book of its kind that covers it all in a very clever way. – Mary Kay Chryssicas, author or I Love Yoga, Breath and Yoga for Teens
Chapter 1 – Yoga 101 – an overview of what yoga is, it’s origins, the different styles of yoga, yogic language, yamas & niyamas, and what you need to practice yoga
Chapter 2 – How to use Yoga – the benefits of yoga for kids, the classroom applications of yoga for Pre-School to Grade 6, Yoga Clubs, Yoga Camps, and Special Needs including ADHD, Autism, Cerebral Palsy & Down Syndrome
Chapter 3 – The Stories – 10 unique yoga adventure stories in English and French
Chapter 4 – Asanas – how to perform 60 asanas with photographs and step-by-step instructions
Chapter 5 – Breathing – understanding the breath, yoga for Asthma, and a variety of breathing exercises safe for children
Chapter 6 – Relaxation – why relaxation is so vital for our children, a selection of guided imagery relaxations to use with children
Chapter 7 – Fun with Yoga – creative exercises, yoga games & activities
I just received the copy of your wonderful book. Thank you so much for sending! I look forward to exploring it and recommending it to teacher training students around the world. Thanks! —Shana Meyerson, founder MiniYogis
I’m not sure what to say without sounding stupid or corny but suffice it to say I was moved to tears. Do you have any idea what a benefit this book would be to homeschoolers? The related learning objectives alone put me OVER THE MOON!! I’m actually having a hard time breathing I’m so excited! —Stacey Ibach
I have been using your book at my literacy visits and it is wonderful. One little fellow, who was having problems with speech, created a new yoga move called ‘the meatball’ it involved putting his feet behind his head. The yoga was great for him! —Steph Sachar, Building Blocks Program Instructor
Just wanted to say a GIANT thank you for publishing your book ‘Once Upon a Pose’. I ordered it as soon as it came out. I’m a fairly new yoga for kids teacher (since last summer), and these stories help me SO much. I’ve just recently opened my own business and so you’ve saved me a lot of time in lesson planning going forward. Can’t thank you enough! This past week I taught your ‘Flying and Crawling’ story about 10 times. The inchworm is a huge hit. —Lisa Kelly, founder Centre for Art and Soul
I wanted to let you know that I love your book, Once Upon a Pose. It’s a wonderful resource, full of ideas for stories, flow of poses and background information on benefits. Thanks! I actually used your book in the classes I taught yesterday and it went very well. Very easy to follow and the kids enjoyed it too. I also really like the fact that you put the letter to parents in the book for schools to use….anything that can simplify the adoption of the program is a good thing. —Laura Bakosh, teacher
Trauma Informed Parenting with Hala Khouri November 10, 2022
The incredible Hala Khouri is our guest in this episode of the Yoga In My School podcast.Hala brings her extensive expertise in somatic experiencing, psychology, social justice, movement, and mindfulness as we discuss trauma informed parenting. Discover parenting with curiosity and awareness of our own conditioning so we can be more sensitive to the complex […]