Top 3 Favorite Tools for Yoga in Schools
As a Trauma Informed Public Educator and Coordinator of a Universally Designed School Based Yoga Program for children with visual impairments called Fit Abilities Yoga, I am always looking for great resources and tools that help them to self-regulate (the ability to feel safe with one's self) and co-regulate (the ability to feel safe with others).
I find that good yoga tools for children with physical disabilities, like visual impairments and complex trauma, require several criteria:
1. Multi-sensory approach.
2. Adaptive to fit a wide variety of physical and sensory needed.
3. Encompasses mindfulness practices as well as yoga.
1. Mindfulness and Yoga Skills for Children and Adolescents: 115 Activities for Trauma, Self-Regulation, Special Needs and Anxiety by Barbara Neiman, OTR
Mindfulness and Yoga Skills for Children Adolescents offers teachers, social workers, and allied health professionals (OT/PTs) ideas on yogic exercises that can easily be integrated into their professional routine. I really love this book and training specifically because it was written by Barbara Niemann, who is an occupational therapist and really breaks down the mind-body connection between children's brain health, somatic learning, meditation and pranayama. She really focuses the strategies and exercises for educators and clinicians to be able to facilitate opportunities for students to learn to use their body, breath mindfully, and to be active participants in their learning.
You can purchase the book here.
2. Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids by Kristen Fischer and Susi Schaefer
Zoo Zen follows Lyla, a little girl doing yoga in her room, being guided by 10 different animals through a variety of yoga poses. One of the best features of the book is that the animals appear in the book in sequential order (For example, 1 bear, 2 snakes, 3 eagles). The book is told in an interactive way so kids can easily do the activities along with Lyla in the story.
You can purchase the book here
3. Alphabet Yoga Flash Cards by Yo Yo Yoga Therapy
These alphabet cards feature ways to guide student's bodies into yoga poses that are in the shapes of different letters. The poses on each card are scaffolded according to various physical ability levels and needs, so teachers and clinicians can provide choices for one another. For each alphabet pose there is generally two poses and a group activity option.
You can purchase the cards here.