Yoga has many well-known benefits for everyone. These include increased flexibility and stamina, decreased stress and anxiety, and improved mental and physical health. For people with special needs or developmental disabilities, yoga can have a huge positive impact on their health and well-being, both physically and mentally.
Physical Benefits of Yoga for Adults with Special Needs
Yoga is a physical activity that is adaptable for anyone at any level of ability or mobility and can be tailored to each individual’s needs. It provides a way for people with limited mobility to participate in a healthy physical activity in a noncompetitive environment.
Most people who regularly practice yoga have improved flexibility and balance, reduced stress, and increased calmness. People with disabilities or special needs often deal with pain, discomfort, stress, and anxieties that the rest of us do not experience, so yoga can be especially beneficial for them.
Although it has been around for a very long time, yoga also provides a new and interesting way for people to achieve their physical goals. Many people with disabilities or special needs have spent years in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other therapies or interventional programs. This can become tiring and boring, and yoga offers something new and fun that also improves balance, strength, and flexibility.
Depending on the individual’s specific needs, there are different types of yoga available that can be tailored for each person. For individuals with cerebral palsy, for example, specialized yoga instructors will cradle the individual and move their arms and legs to help them relax. The instructors may also ask students to touch their feet to the floor or lift their heads for a few seconds. While these movements might seem trivial to the average person, they are major obstacles and successes for individuals with a disability. For individuals with Down syndrome, instructors will take special care to ensure they do not injure their spine or hyperextend their joints as a result of extreme flexibility.
Mental Benefits of Yoga for Adults with Special Needs
Yoga teaches people to balance their body and their mind, and the breathing techniques which are taught have a very calming effect. These can also be practiced anywhere at any time, allowing students to use these techniques at any time that they feel stressed or frustrated, and from any position – including a wheelchair.
Yoga is an excellent tool to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional struggles. The practice teaches students to become more in tune with both their mind and body, allowing them to recognize when they are suffering from anxiety, fatigue, or frustration and be able to put the breathing and calming techniques they have learned in yoga into practice in their daily lives.
It is often a slow and meditative process, which helps individuals with ADHD, anxiety, autism, and other disabilities slow down, increase their attention span, and create better focus.
Yoga also boosts self-esteem as each person works at his or her own level, creating a sense of pride and accomplishment in people who may not be seen as capable or who may be looked down upon by others in other situations. The socialization that comes from participating in a yoga classes with others can also improve mental and emotional wellbeing. Yoga is an empowering practice because it meets people at their current level of functioning and moves towards meeting achievable goals.
Yoga for Adults with Special Needs in or Near Chester County, PA
While most yoga classes are open to people of all abilities and levels and can be adapted to fit the needs of those with disabilities, it can be more comfortable to attend an adaptive class that is designed specifically for people with limited mobility or who have difficulty balancing. Below are some yoga classes for adults with special needs that are available in or near Chester County.
- Adaptive Yoga at Yoga Home – Everyone is welcome to this class, where we make postures accessible, whether seated, standing or coming down to the floor. It is ideal for those seeking the physical and mental benefits of yoga who have limited mobility or balance as a result of the aging process, injury or other medical issues. We adapt postures using blocks, blankets, chairs and the wall; all to find the many benefits of the yoga practice – increased mental and physical strength, balance and flexibility; rhythm, an inward sense of direction and the ability to move through life in a more integrated way; the capacity to live more fully within the body; and an enhanced ability to manage stress.
- Chair Yoga at Yoga Home – Chair yoga is a gentle form of yoga that is practiced seated on a chair or standing using a chair for support. It is ideal for those seeking the physical and mental benefits of yoga who have limited mobility or balance as a result of the aging process, injury or other medical issues. Expect to experience the many benefits, including stress reduction, increased flexibility and strength, and cultivating the mind-body connection. This studio is located in Conshohocken, PA.
- BRV Yoga – This studio, located in Phoenixville, PA, offers a variety of classes, including chair yoga. Chair yoga includes gentle movement and active stretching and can be appropriate and beneficial for many people who are in a wheelchair or who have limited mobility or difficulty standing or balancing.
- Awakening Wellness – Located in Malvern, PA, Awakening Wellness is a welcoming, inclusive Healing Arts Studio and Positive Living Boutique. Their Yoga and Qigong classes are open to people of all ages, sizes, and shapes, regardless of experience or fitness level.
- The Light Within Yoga – The Yoga for EveryBODY class at The Light Within is highly adaptable and accessible to all. The studio is located in West Grove, PA.