One of the main reasons for completing a yoga therapy certification after my teacher training was that I wanted to use yoga with special needs. As a placement in my degree we completed a series of drama session within St. John of God’s Centre for intellectual disabilities and here I saw the huge amount that this population got from movement. During my MA in Dramatherapy, I saw an opportunity to combine yoga and dramatherapy to increase the opportunity for growth and development with people with special needs. I am currently working full time in the intellectual disabilities sector so have very limited availability to run classes, however please find information on my findings whilst using yoga and drama in a therapeutic way with students with disabilities.
Down Syndrome Ireland
I was a tutor in Down Syndrome Ireland’s LatchON programme for two years, a third level course teaching literacy, communication and independent living to adults with down syndrome. Here there is a strong emphasis at using drama to teach some subjects, which has proved effective with this group as an interactive teaching method. I used yoga as a method of teaching healthy exercise and to relieve anxiety with meditation and breathing techniques.
St. Michael’s House
These classes are possibly the most enjoyable yoga classes I teach. Participants have greatly increased their range of motion, their sense of self and their ability to self soothe. Through games and group exercises participants have also increased their group cohesion skills, team work and some have worked through previous difficulties with touch. In some cases participants were able to make themselves relaxed within a group for the first time. Self massage and tapping techniques are used to increase body awareness and encourage positive touch and self soothing techniques.
I have taught in several centres in St. Michael’s House. The drama classes were formalised into a Fetac Level 2 qualification for participants in 2014. Drama has proven very effective in increasing confidence, encouraging creativeness, improving communication skills, increasing social skills, encouraging independent opinions and thinking in the participants.