Guest Post from Yogiclarebear

Today's guest post comes from the fine state of Minnesota, home to Garrison Keillor and Yogiclarebear. Clare writes an amazing, thought-provoking article and I am proud to post it here. It made me notice that, for me, so much of my practice has been going inward that I sometimes forget that the purpose of all that introspection is to better connect with the world.

For the sequence of the day, check out her post today on Yoga for Gardeners.

Guest Post from Yogiclarebear

A few days a week during my morning workout sessions at my YMCA, I am often flanked on my cardio machine by a big eyed girl in pink sweatpants and cokebottle glasses and a guy in an army t-shirt tucked deeply into his high-waisted jeans.  And on the machine next to them is their aid, a sweet faced, big hearted girl that I went to high school with.  She works for the Vasa Children’s Home here in town, a support center that offers programs and residency for children and young adults with a wide range of mental and physical disabilities, and she brings her charges to the YMCA in the morning for various exercise and gym activities.   

Watching these kids enjoy physical activity is inspiring, and the other morning while I was finishing my workout, I got to thinking…where are the yoga programs for these folks? 

According to The Arc of the United States, (the national organization for people with mental retardation) an estimated 7.2 million (3 out of every 100) Americans have some level of mental retardation.  Approximately 87% of these are categorized as “mildly affected” while the remaining 13% may have severe limitations.   

When I got home that day, I did some web searching for yoga and mental retardation, and I didn’t find too much.  To no surprise, the one good article I found described studies that held yoga as a positive activity for the mentally handicapped.  As a yoga instructor, I am seeking information on how I could train to teach specifically to the mentally retarded population.  I can imagine that the developmental disorders that cause mental handicaps can range widely, and it may be insensitive and even un-safe to “lump” mental retardation into one category when it comes to yoga benefits or hazards.  Many yoga training programs have developed methods of teaching yoga to the general population in the safest way.  This involves knowing the physical body, understanding the connections between and movements of muscles, bones, and tissues, and maybe even attaching it all to the spiritual or emotional “body.”  We are taught asana contraindications and modifications for physical issues such as high blood pressure, spine issues, and “sciatica,” but where can a yoga instructor learn how to teach to the conditions that cause mental handicaps, and the physical limitations that come along with many of those handicaps?  

I know these questions are big and broad, and the answers would probably have to come in narrow form, specific to the condition, severity, and even age of the mentally handicapped yogi.  But I’m honored to start my search here on Emma’s blog!  Thanks Emma, and thanks readers for any insights!   

Does anyone have any advice via resources or experience for teaching yoga to the mentally handicapped?     

Popular Posts