Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Adaptive Yoga for Special Needs Adults (G.A.M.E.R.S) - updated post

A sweet friend (whom I met while I was teaching family yoga at the JCC) (who went on to become a kids yoga teacher and now a fully fledged RYT and adaptive yoga teacher) was kind enough to refer a job to me - teaching adaptive yoga at a local library to adults with special needs. They call them the GAMERS: Group-home Adults Mixer: Educational, Emotional, Recreational, Social.

The local library branch wanted to pilot a program for the GAMERS that wasn't just occupational therapy or job skills, or video games or reading, but something interactive, something mind/body integrative, something new. So for four weeks we met, the job coaches and caregivers bringing their one, two and up to four clients with them, all with different level of physical and cognitive abilities. Some were non-verbal, some in wheelchairs, some high functioning, some very active, some very passive. I introduced them all to the breathing ball and the idea of using breath to help calm ourselves down or rev ourselves up. We worked on balance in chairs and standing where appropriate. We talked and shared our stories. We played games that incorporated fine motor and gross motor skills. We posed, we twisted, we stretched and strengthened, moved our arms and legs (sometimes separately and sometimes together!). We laughed.

Each week we'd have some of the same folks, some new folks, but still, I felt like we had created something special - a community. I greeted each and every person, caregiver or client, with the offer of a handshake and a smile, introducing myself, and asking about their experience with yoga, where they lived, what they liked to do with their time, and anything else they wanted, to share to help build those connections.

The pilot program was a success, in the eyes of the librarian that created it and the library district, and they approved a grant to continue the program at the first library and branch out to three others. I am honored to be picking up three of these four new classes that extend into early 2016. 

These classes are free of charge, meet as listed at the libraries and are a great way to introduce adults who may not otherwise have lots of socialization time to interact, to try something new, to connect. Ages 18 and up welcome.

Upcoming Dates (changes from the original flyer as noted)

  • Lemon Grove Library: January 5, 12, 19 from 9:30-10:30 AM
  • El Cajon Library: January 25, February 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 from 10-11 AM
  • Vista Library: January 19, 26, February 2, 9, 16, 23 from 10-11 AM

Contact me, or the local branch for more information. You can also check my schedule for the dates/hours.

Gratitude to Debra Logan, Allyson O'Brien, Liz Vagani and Jenne Bergstrom for the chance to make a difference!

(Please note that this is not the same as the Silver Sneakers or my other Chair/Adaptive yoga classes. These are classes specifically designed for the group home and special needs adults. Though I humbly appreciate all students we must limit attendance to the program focus group.)

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