Sunday, January 8, 2017

Yoga/ Movement Groups in Special Education Classroom

This school year I took on a new adventure and started a yoga/movement group in one of my separate setting special education classrooms.  This classroom has students with a diagnosis of Autism, Down's Syndrome and Intellectual Disability.  I decided to do this because several of the students have sensory issues, difficulty with regulation and behavior, and difficulty with motor planning. This has turned out to be the highlight of my week. The seem to love it too.

Benefits of Yoga

  • Breathwork reduces anxiety, helps kids cope with stress, and behavioral regulation

  • Helps calm the mind, improves concentration, attention-span, memory function, and learning ability

  • Improves balance, body awareness, alignment, strength, flexibility, and posture

As an OT, I have made the experience therapeutic from start to finish. The students assist with rearranging the furniture in the room, which provides some heavy work prior to yoga. Next, the students retrieve their Mats, unroll them, and remove shoes (and sometimes socks), which addresses self-care skills and independence. I have the students begin by checking in and letting me know how they are feeling at the beginning of the group which involves social skills and self-regulation. We turn off the lights and play calming music with a visual on the smart board, which provides auditory and visual input. We start with breathing and stretching. Then move into yoga poses and movement, which provided proprioceptive and vestibular input. We end the session with mindfulness, deep breathing and laying on the mats. Clean-up is similar to set-up in that students provide feedback on how they feel, put shoes back on, roll up mats, and replace furniture.


The progress has been great!  I have one student who wouldn't remove his shoes at the beginning of the year but is finally comfortable with that transition. Several of the students has improved their motor planning and ability to imitate positions which is huge for students with Autism.


  1. I like your process and write up. I taught a teacher's assistant to do a similar process with a 10 yr girl who had autism. As the parents were paying my OT fee so I could only assess, recommend & then come back & upgrade. They all were delighted & she too was able to comfortably remove her shoes and put them back on...after some time. I also taught the assistant proper back care and how to add proper ergonomics for the child when doing tasks at her desk. W sitting was a persistent habit so we added a standing desk & added the ball between the knees of the student as part of her yoga, SI process. THanks for the opportunity to share!