Yoga For Autism: A Therapist’s Experience

Yoga for Autisim

Yoga for Autisim

Yoga for Autism, ADHD and Differently-Abled Children is a course that I created with  my mentor and dear friend, Shakta Kaur. Shakta created Radiant Child Yoga and has personally trained thousands of people in the art of sharing yoga with children. As a facilitator for this program, I am always humbled when I receive feedback from students that attend our trainings. Here is a heart-opening perspective on what you understand, allow and create for your students…and for yourself, after taking the Yoga For Differently-Abled Teacher Training.

Here, Sabrina Kenny, OTR shares her experience taking the course”

“I have been a school-based occupational therapist for over 10 years now. For about half of my career I have been practicing yoga regularly and using yoga and yoga-based activities to address many of my student’s needs in individual, small group and whole class sessions.

Over the years, I have taken many children’s yoga trainings and have found them all valuable.  Through these courses I have deeply enhanced my knowledge and skills. Then I attended Radiant Child Yoga For Children with Autism, ADHD and the Differently – Abled and I realized what was missing from these past trainings, from my teaching and therapy sessions. The only problem is that I don’t have the words to articulate what I found and how things have changed. I can feel it. I’ve been feeling it since day 2 of the training, but not sure if I will ever really be able to say it suitably.

I can go on and on for pages about all of the good Radiant Child has brought to my personal yoga practice, my teaching and my occupational therapy practice (how half the school walks around unconsciously chanting I am happy….I am good, how much my kindergarteners love Yoga in Motion and how they have taught all of the songs to their parents, how I no longer have yoga teacher block because of all the great activities and uplifting affirmations we learned, how I am better able to articulate and justify the necessity of yoga in my OT practice …). But for some reason, I feel more compelled to talk of things other than the good.

For the most part, I have always loved being and OT, especially since I have been working in the NYC schools.   However, back in October when I attended Radiant Child. I was having a very difficult time adjusting to an unusual amount of workplace changes (most of them at the time did not seem good), obstacles and some unexpected loses. I will not get lost in the details, but I felt myself rapidly transforming from the person who looked forward to going to work to the person who had mini anxiety attacks on Sunday night. The stressors were affecting my job performance; I felt disorganized, overwhelmed, not present, and worst of all, not effective.

As I sat half asleep at our 6 am yoga classes, listened to the inspiring stories that were shared from both instructors and many of the students, I soon felt the passion, authenticity and devotion of the teachers begin to transform me. What felt so heavy and impossible to overcome, suddenly felt really trivial. By day 2, I was no longer overwhelmed with stress, and by day 4 I felt empowered with an interesting sense of tranquility, hope and exuberance.

When I returned to school on Tuesday, everything was different. To be honest, I didn’t even start to incorporate the specific skills I learned and treasured so dearly for almost two weeks after the course. I felt this weird desire to save it, the way I use to save my Easter basket candy when I was a child. But even so, so much changed immediately. I was suddenly overpowered with the love I had for my students and my colleagues. I felt a new sense of understanding, awareness and clarity. I knew exactly what I needed to do to overcome some of the barriers we had been faced with. I could not articulate it to anyone and clearly still cannot. I was frustrated by my lack of words to describe this amazing experience initially. Nevertheless, something I did learn at the training was that there is so much more to our experiences and us than words.

However, I can say this. Since Radiant Child, I’ve been able to remain calmer in the face of chaos and believe my students are slowly but steadily beginning to as well. I have noticed that without using words, I have been able to help some of their teachers do the same. I’ve been better able to see the gifts that each child brings, especially the difficult students many teachers and therapists are afraid to work with. I have been relying more on vibration and less on words and have been praying and meditating more. In my teaching, I have been incorporating breath work, chanting and mindfulness, positive affirmations, song/ dance more than ever and no longer feel worried about what others will think of me. I’ve been assertive enough to maintain class structure but calm enough to let things go, which had long been a challenge for me.

Because of Radiant Child, I am more effective at addressing the varying needs of my students and truly believe that yoga has enhanced their holistic well-being. Most importantly, when I am with my students, I am completely present, and this I believe has made the most difference. I have so much gratitude for the instructors and hope to continue to have the privilege of attending more of their trainings.”

Sabrina Kenny, OTR

We now have an online course that teaches the philosophy and principles of sharing Yoga and Mindfulness with Neurodiverse Children, created in partnership with Yoga International