This sneak-peek into our monthly Freedom Yoga: Yoga for Special Needs demonstrates the ways yoga develops a positive sense of self and builds confidence in students. Unroll your mat with us the second Saturday of every month at 12:30pm at PYR’s studio for Freedom Yoga to be a part of this impactful class and/or make a donation online today to support the benefits of our programs!
6 Benefits of Yoga for Children with Autism according to Autism Parenting Magazine:
- Increased Social-Communication Skills
- Awareness and Expression of Emotions
- Reduced Anxiety
- Reduction in Challenging Behaviors
- Increased Body Awareness
- Positive Sense of Self
Bring these benefits to your community by practicing for Freedom Yoga on Saturday to support yoga for everyone in your community!
Support Yoga for Special Needs
Check out the programs you will be helping us highlight and support by donating to #ampitup!
1. Brooke Road Academy
- PYR launched its first community partnership at Brook Road Academy at St. Joseph’s Villa in March 2011, offering yoga and mindfulness to middle and high schoolers, including those facing extraordinary challenges. Drawing from the program’s success, PYR has developed and implemented yoga and mindfulness partnerships for individuals and communities of all abilities and ages.
“Project Yoga Richmond has given members of the Brook Road Academy community opportunities to better understand the dynamic interactions among the body, brain, and breath – an integral part of learning that fosters critical reflections and self awareness.” – Ben Walters, English Dept. Chair, Brook Road Academy
2. The Founder’s Center for Commonwealth Autism
- We offer yoga as a part of The Founders Center of Commonwealth Autism‘s Transition Program each week! Yoga has been a great way for students to engage in physical activity at their own level! And we love having the chance to visit our friends as we share the benefits of the practice with Commonwealth Autism!
- The physical sequences are similar from week to week (or class to class) to build confidence, encourage exploration, gain a sense of empowerment and independence, and ultimately increase mobility, strength, and balance.
“Our Transition Program has an adapted yoga class with teachers from Project Yoga Richmond once a week. It has been a great way for our students to engage in physical activity at their own level.” – The Founder’s Center of Commonwealth Autism
3. Freedom Yoga: Yoga for Special Needs
- Offered the first Saturday of each month from 12:30-1:30pm at PYR’s studio.
- This class is tailored toward students with intellectual disabilities, everyone in the community is welcome to join!
“Freedom Yoga was a doorway to yoga for us because there weren’t any other places we could go that were calm, relaxing, enveloping, and welcoming to yoga students with special needs, and now we even go to a gentle yoga class together on the regular schedule with all the other students! … It has opened up a whole world of opportunity.”
-Parent of a Freedom Yoga Student
4. ESOL Yoga with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Passport to Education at Greene Elementary and Salem Church Middle
- Many ESOL students have shared stories of separations and reunifications due to migration, interrupted schooling, difficult, and border detentions. These experiences often have a traumatic impact on students, which manifests in the classroom and in daily life.
- PYR has studied Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, conducted by Kaiser Permanante and the CDC, and uses yoga, meditation, and mindfulness as a community resource for serving youth and helping to build resilience. These trauma-informed classes have supported students as they heal trauma and build resilience.
- Yoga provides a fully integrated experience by which a connection is made to one’s own body and to others.
- Through breath, movement, and experience in the present moment, yoga creates rhythms that aid in regulation.
- Yoga is a structured, supported, self-paced way for students to make small, manageable choices with respects to their bodies – and the shapes they make – that are kind and compassionate. In making these safe, healthy choices, students can start developing skills around acting rather than reacting
- Yoga supports ESOL learners to develop language skills and resiliency and fosters community and connection.
“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”. – PYR Programs Student
5. Boushall Middle School and Lucille Brown Middle School with Next Up RVA
- Half of PYR’s Community Partnerships engage children & youth!
- We introduce breathing exercises, relaxation, and visualization techniques as a support to cope with and reduce stress, improve focus/concentration and self-regulation, and promote a general sense of health and emotional well-being.
“For those moments when I feel scared, sad, joyful, disgusted, accepting, ashamed, loving, gentle, or anything and everything else, there is immaculate calm inside me. It’s beautiful. It’s imperfect. It is why I do yoga.” -PYR Programs Student
6. Aspree Adult Day Services
- This program engages adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
- These adaptive yoga classes are focused on building strength, developing regulation skills through breathing, improving mobility and maintaining/improving overall health and emotional well-being. Additionally, these classes provide a sense of belonging and community.
7. Senior Center East at Peter Paul Development Center
- Yoga for seniors supports health benefits, increases mobility and strength, and provides a sense of belonging and community. We have noticed that seniors are able to balance and hold poses for longer, extend their legs and arms higher, and remain in seated savasana/meditation for longer
- We offer yoga for seniors at Senior Center EAST at Peter Paul Development Center and Marywood Court Senior Apartments
- Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) supports people recovering from all manifestations of addiction, from behavioral addictions to substance abuse – creating a safe place on the mat where trauma can be released. It also supports those who are impacted by a loved one’s addiction.
- We offer Y12SR at our studio every Tuesday 5:30-7pm and the first Friday of each month from 5:30-7 pm.
9. Trauma-Informed Yoga for Women
- Yoga provides a supportive space to reconnect with the body, as a mind-body disconnect is often a result of traumatic experiences. Yoga is grounding and allows practitioners a framework to practice making space from traumatic thoughts, all the while exposing folks to their present moment experience.
- Join us every other Sunday from 12:30-1:30 pm for Love Your Body: Yoga for Women to experience trauma-informed techniques for yourself!
10. Binford Middle School with Higher Achievement
- Project Yoga Richmond receives evaluations from program participants, yoga instructors, and partner organization staff ton the impact of the yoga and mindfulness classes. Many of them cite positive effects of yoga for adolescents, including:
- Less anxiety
- A greater sense of self and belonging
- Developed the ability to self-monitor
- Better focus
- Felt less reactive
Yoga for special needs classes provide a sense of belonging and community. These adaptive yoga classes focus on building strength, developing regulation skills through breathing, improving mobility and maintaining/improving overall health and emotional well-being.The physical sequences are similar from week to week (or class to class) to build confidence, encourage exploration, gain a sense of empowerment and independence, as well as increasing mobility, strength and balance.
PYR offers 4 Yoga for Special Needs programs:
Aspree Adult Day Services
Running weekly since Spring 2013
Instructors: Sarah Humphries and Dan Weiseman
Population Served: Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Founders Center of Commonwealth Autism
Running weekly since October 2012
Instructor: Carrie Puryear
Population Served: Teens with Autism (we work with the Upper School)
Running monthly since Spring 2013 at PYR
Instructor: Carrie Puryear
Population Served: Adults with Intellectual Disabilities, their friends and family, and is also open to the entire community
“This was a doorway to yoga for us because there weren’t any other places we could go that was calm and relaxing and enveloping and welcoming and now we even go to a gentle yoga class on the regular schedule with all the other students. It has opened up a whole world that I never thought we would have the opportunity.” – Parent of a Freedom Yoga Student
Transitions Day Support Services
Running weekly since April 2015
Instructor: Natasha Foreman
Population Served: Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
“My brother and I wanted to thank you and Special Olympics for the So-Fit program and share with you all the difference it has made in his health. He really took the program very seriously and actively participated in the Yoga and Exercise programs.
I must say the coaches at Yoga and JCC were excellent! They gave individual attention to each member, which really made him try harder to accomplish especially the Yoga positions.
In July, we went to see his primary care physician, Dr. David Taminger, with results that were remarkable. Not only had he lost a total of 14 pounds, but also had the best lab results this year. For his diabetes the results of his HbA1C, which is a measure of your average blood glucose levels was 1.2 points lower. His fasting glucose level was also within normal limits. His cholesterol levels was also so much lower. Overall he showed remarkable improvements. His doctor sent us a note saying, ” Whatever you are doing, please keep up the good work.”
This program really worked and I am so glad that we were participants. Not only was it fun and gave him an opportunity to see old friends at the program, it has made a substantial difference in his health. My only wish is to have a continuation of this program on a more permanent basis.”
–Testimonial from a sister of a participant
Each time you practice with and support Project Yoga Richmond, you make programs and impacts like this possible. Provide the benefits of yoga to all, make a donation today!