Yoga for Special Needs Children


Dear NACD families,

67Like you I have a special angel in our family named Gitane (7 y.o.) and, like you, since she arrived nothing has been quite the same.

Somehow my acting career and chasing different roles around the world turned into dedication to chase the betterment of my Down Syndrome daughter who could barely open her eyes for the first 3 months.

Once we started on NACD program the progress was so evident and fast. For the first time we begun to get a glimpse of her potential and how sky-high we could reach.

When she was a toddler, Gitane used to help herself by intuitively going into different yoga postures to be able to sit on her own, stretch and enjoy her back being massaged by propping herself (to what we call Cobra pose) with the biggest smile on her face. (by now I became a certified International Yoga Teacher).

I expanded on these postures and started frequently doing yoga with Gitane. She equally loved the attention and the challenges. Gitane is in a regular yoga class now, doing yoga with typical children and without a shadow! From seeing the benefits of yoga on Gitane, I went on to study more and getting certified in all the levels of yoga for children and finally yoga for the children with special needs.

In addition to pregnancy yoga classes and private lessons, I have been teaching 4 yoga classes per week at the Charter (public) School, where our daughter is attending at her 1st grade level. This gave me an opportunity to be exposed to and work with all sorts of children. They are all cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally different, few of which have special needs.

Yoga works on many levels: structurally it strengthens and aligns the body; internally it tones and rejuvenates the organs and it helps all the systems of the body: the lymphatic, digestive, cardiovascular (just to name a few) get rid of toxins and the waste material. It balances and strengthens the nervous system and last but not the least, it nourishes and stimulates the brain cells.

The purpose of my teaching yoga is to help our children feel more comfortable in their bodies while helping them achieve their highest potential by experiencing enduring health, greater mental clarity, emotional stability and a greater sense of well being.

By teaching our children with special needs yoga and exposing them to the communities with typical children we are a step closer to removing the veil of an illusion of difference between us all.

I’ll be speaking and demonstrating some of the postures at our June Rendezvous with Gitane, where I am looking forward to meeting some of you. I also do private lessons at my LA home.

With Love and gratitude,
Aleksandra Neil


NACD Newsletter, Volume 1 Issue 18, 2009 ©NACD

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