Studies have found that children with SEND are more unlikely to be engaged in physical activity than their peers, and in general they have poorer physical health outcomes. The benefits of regular physical activity are important as are the skills which accompany this such as mental well-being, problem solving and concentration.
Specialist SEND practitioners shared with us some of the obstacles SEND children face when considering engaging in physical activity; getting changed, following instructions, lack of choice, problems negotiating space, sensory perceptions, unsuitable equipment, limited mobility, tiredness, balance and co-ordination challenges, not feeling part of the team, being different.
They also shared with us how children feel; embarrassed, upset, frightened, excluded, frustrated, put off, angry.
And how they want to feel; included, excited, confident, safe.
Children with SEND experience difficulties such as gross motor skills, motor planning and development and need more time to process instructions, so fast paced sports are not always relevant and can limit success and feelings of confidence, this leads to avoidance.
School, whether that be a special or mainstream setting, is an ideal context for children to engage in physical activity through formal, structured physical education lessons, but the choice of activity is critical to build confidence, be part of a team and achieve their personal best.
Yoginis Yoga have been teaching yoga in schools and nurseries since 2006, this includes special needs schools and also mainstream schools with SEND children.
SEND children are able to follow the same uniquely created yoga programmes as their peers, which work to deliver physical and mental health and well-being in a non-threatening, all inclusive environment. There is no specialist equipment or clothing and sessions are time, place and child adaptive. In yoga everyone works to their own limits and everyone succeeds. Because every ‘body’ is different there is no standard to reach and empathy and individuality are promoted through the Yoginis Yoga promise “Kind Hearts, Kind Words, Kind Thoughts”.
Research shows that yoga increases focus and concentration, reduces stress and anxiety, increases balance co-ordination and self-confidence. Improves sleep, enhances imagination and creativity and helps to re-balance the nervous system.
Breathing exercises can help bring stillness and calm and at the same time release anger and frustration. These can be practised individually or part of a group.
Relaxation allows moments to be still and alone with their thoughts, its also a time for them to be quiet. This can be challenging for some, but eventually all children are able to find some quiet, still and calm time. Even the most restless and chatty children can manage a few minutes after continued practice. This is a vital life skill.
For children with disorders that affect their physical growth, yoga promotes body awareness and the low impact yoga has on the body makes it an ideal exercise for these children. There is no right or wrong way and no perfect posture.
The safe, inclusive setting the Yoginis Yoga programmes enable allow creativity and imagination to be sparked, children come up with new names for the postures which can be comical, they find new ways to demonstrate them and they love to guess what comes next.
Security is built through routine, repetition and structure intrinsic to the Yoginis Yoga programmes. Children become confident and start to demonstrate the Yoginis promise of kind thoughts, helping less able children and using kind words to support them. This shows how big their kind hearts are, giving and receiving help.
In this environment the fears and obstacles are reduced and there becomes no limit to their potential for positive change, it’s so simple the children become leaders in the class, something they may never get the opportunity to be in other physical activities. Yoga sessions are not only an enriching experience for the children but also the staff.
Yoginis Yoga trains those who work with children to deliver these programmes in house, using a grab and go, no planning structure that is easy to follow and requires no specialist yoga knowledge. The training is progressive with four levels to focus on specific areas of the yoga path; physical, breath, brain and mindfulness. It fulfils National Curriculum, Development Matters, PSHE, Physical Activity and Physical Literacy Guidelines and the new Inspection Framework, cultural capital and personal development criteria.
Training can be delivered on site or online and certifies practitioners as ‘Approved Yoginis Yoga Coaches’ benefiting from resources and expert support through access to ‘The Hive’ e-learning system.
Train today, teach tomorrow, join us in making Happy, Healthy, Content Children.