3 Tips for Teaching Yoga for Autism

Have you ever wondered how PYR’s outreach programs are different from a studio class? Or how yoga can impact different populations? At Project Yoga Richmond we are dedicated to finding the most impactful ways to share yoga with students of all abilities. As you help us make yoga accessible and affordable to all we want to make sure you know more about the impact your dollar makes when you unroll your mat with us!

 

Project Yoga Richmond has partnered with The Founders Center of Commonwealth Autism for the last four years and currently offers a weekly program serving students in their upper school, primarily serving youth/emerging adults ages 17-22. We see the impact these practices make in our students each time we unroll our mats.

Yoga holds a variety of benefits, some of which can be especially beneficial to youth and adults with autism. According to Autism Parenting Magazine, the results of a yoga practice can be especially beneficial to people with Autism. They found these 6 benefits to be among the top reasons for how yoga can benefit someone with autism.

1. Increased Social-Communication Skills
2. Awareness and Expression of Emotions
3. Reduced Anxiety
4. Reduction in Challenging Behaviors
5. Increased Body Awareness
6. Positive Sense of Self

We see many of these results in our students after they unroll their mats. One of our students from The Founder’s Center of Commonwealth Autism demonstrated all 6 of these benefits through a testimonial shared with a Project Yoga Richmond team member,

“I feel very calm and I can forget about the things that I do not like to think about. I calm down and then don’t need to be so upset anymore. I am grateful because you have taught me to control myself, thank you for your teachings, to be able to control my breath”

This testimonial conveys increased social-communication skills as the student was able to share with a PYR member about their personal experience on the mat. Awareness and expression of emotions is demonstrated in this testimonial by the student’s reflection on both calm and anxious emotions. The student shared that yoga helped to reduce anxiety by stating “I calm down” and demonstrates a reduction in challenging behaviors as the student shows self-regulation and control through the statement, “you have taught me how to control myself”. Increased body awareness is shown by the student’s ability to connect with and control his or her breath. Additionally, the student’s ability to positively share, reflect, and interact with others about his or her personal experiences demonstrates a positive sense of self.

Here are 3 things we do when we teach yoga at The Founders Center of Commonwealth Autism to best meet the needs of our students with Autism:

1. Start class by greeting each student by name as they are entering the room (specific verbal recognition is very important)

2. Providing verbal praise- again, specific verbal recognition– throughout the class

3. Incorporating sensory items into class

You can help us continue to bring the benefits of yoga to students with autism in your community. Start by joining us on May 27 for Saturday Salutations at the VMFA where Shannon Somogyi will share about teaching at The Founder’s Center for Commonwealth Autism as she leads the community in an all-levels yoga class on the VMFA deck. You can support our outreach programs by paying-what-you-can when you pre-register for this event! And know that anytime you pay-what-you-can for class at our studio 7-days a week, you are supporting outreach like this!

Make an impact. Unroll your mat. Sign up for Saturday Salutations at the VMFA today!

If you would like to learn more about how to support Yoga for Autism or to sponsor one of our outreach programs, you can make a donation by clicking here 365 days a year and you can contact holly@projectyogarichmond.org for more information!

 

A special thank you to Mc Abbott Studios for providing all imagery content in this blog post!

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