Yoga at TreeHouse School
At Treehouse School, yoga sessions for all the pupils have been running for five years. The sessions are taught by senior yoga instructor Cathy Underwood, who is an expert on yoga especially tailored for special needs children.
The pupils receive their yoga relaxation sessions in a group every Tuesday, led by Cathy and the session includes three steps: Reflex, Exercise and Relax. In this blog I will explain what happened at two sessions – attended by a mixed aged range of pupils – that I went along to recently in the school.
The session begins with the pupils assigned to their yoga mats. The pupils and their tutors are paired on a mat together and they lay down to begin their session. The first part is a relaxation session in which the pupils go under blankets and relax to the soothing music played on the speaker. The second part began as Kathy blew bubbles on the pupils’ faces and exercised their legs. This helps improve circulation therefore helping improve the muscles. The third and final part was the positions in which the pupils had a lot of fun getting into! They included the ‘surfer’ position in which the pupils had fun imagining they were on a beach, surfing the waves!
Cathy’s sessions also include props, such as eye masks, soothing oils, gongs and other sensory toys designed to enhance the relaxation and enjoyment of the pupils who take her classes. The eye masks were the most popular! The benefits of yoga for autistic people is that it activates calming hormones such as serotonin, and that is good for avoiding meltdowns and other low moods. The other great benefit is that it helps with motor skills by refining them through learning the postures. It is so nice to see how yoga can have a very positive impact on young people.
Cathy, who has been working at TreeHouse School since 2014, said: “I love my work at Treehouse. The pupils have taught me so much. I now look beyond behaviour and see the child, their needs and abilities. We are then able to work together and create tools to help self-regulate and feel less anxious in the classroom”
Cathy is currently teaching the upper school at Treehouse School all through 2019. She specialises in yoga for autistic children and adults and you can find out more about the classes she runs by visiting her Yoga4mums website.
About the author
Solmaz is Ambitious about Autism's Marketing and Communications Intern. She loves writing, and also has interests in music, technology and beauty products.