I am very happy to share my perspective and my experience as a yoga teacher, part of Poraka Nova’s Yoga for Everyone Initiative where people with intellectual disabilities are included. For the last four months, once a week we held yoga classes together with the participants. We have about 8 young participants who regularly attend classes, along with several caregivers.
From the very first class, I noticed the openness of the participants and their willingness to learn and try new things. So, I design the classes to be fun. Very often we drive a wolf, visualize traveling somewhere or holding hands, dancing and even dancing “oro” (traditional Macedonian etno dance) . Through play and fun, we stretch the body, improve concentration, work on focus. And at the same time, we try to activate both hemispheres of the brain, thus activating the brain and improving concentration.
I found that the participants want to be involved in the construction of the lesson, so the lessons are interactive. I give them the freedom to give new ideas, to suggest where they want to travel with our wolf, we count together, sing, or visualize that we are different animals while doing the exercises. Very often we do breathing exercises that slow down the activity of the autonomic nervous system and lead to a feeling of calmness and relaxation. I have noticed that the participants react super well to exercises with visualization, it helps them with concentration and at the same time relaxation.
There is no doubt that yoga helps participants stretch the body and mind, improve concentration and attention, and also helps them work as a team, feel seen and heard.
The Inclusive Yoga Classes are implemented within Poraka Nova program Inclusive Sport!
This article is written by the yoga instructor, Marija Krstevska