• Dec,08, 2023

Special Needs Yoga: How to Make Your Classes Accessible and Inclusive

Special Needs Yoga: How to Make Your Classes Accessible and Inclusive

Anyone who has ever attended a yoga class can attest to the amazing sense of peace and well-being that comes with the practice. But for many people, traditional yoga classes are not accessible.

This may be because they are not flexible enough, or because they have a physical limitation that prevents them from participating in certain poses. In this blog post, we will discuss ways to make your yoga classes more accessible and inclusive for special needs students. 

Tips for Involving Special Needs Students in Your Yoga Class 

Always give a heads up 

It is important to tell your students ahead of time what poses will be used during class. This will help them to prepare for the class and make any necessary adjustments beforehand. 

You can do this by leaving a note on the door or in an email sent out before each session starts. If possible, try asking questions about their needs so that you can tailor your classes accordingly. 

Structure your class 

Make sure you have enough space for them to move around freely. If possible, make sure there is some distance between mats - especially if someone has sensory sensitivities or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

The idea is not just about making room but also creating an environment that feels welcoming and supportive of everyone's different needs. 

Give clear instructions 

It can be challenging for some people with special needs to understand verbal cues, so make sure you provide written instructions on how to do each pose or activity before starting class time. 

You may also want to have handouts available during sessions as well if this helps them follow along better at home later when practicing alone. 

Differentiate between verbal and non-verbal cues 

If you have a student who is having trouble following directions, try using both verbal and non-verbal cues to help them understand what needs to be done next. 

For example, if someone can't hear when told "bend forward," then point your finger towards their body while saying "bend." 

Acknowledge that it may take longer for some people to complete an action than others- don't rush them. Be patient and give everyone enough time so they aren't feeling pressured into doing something quickly when they need more help or support. 

Repeat instructions if necessary - don't assume everyone heard what you said the first time around. 


Be flexible with poses and activities 

Some people may not be able to do every pose or need help in order for it to happen. Be willing to adapt as needed so that your classes can include more people. 

Remember that yoga isn’t about perfection, it’s about the journey. So be patient and allow for mistakes. 


Provide a safe space 

For many people with special needs, feeling unsafe is a common fear. Make sure your class is a physically and emotionally safe space for them to explore without judgment or ridicule. 

This means ensuring that everyone in the room has enough space around their mat so that no one else can touch them without permission - especially if someone might get upset when touched unexpectedly. 

Treat everyone equally, even if there are different needs or abilities present at any given moment during class time. 


Final Thoughts 

Yoga can be a really nice way to help people with special needs connect to their bodies and find some peace within themselves. While there are many challenges that come along with teaching yoga classes for people who have disabilities or other needs, there are also so many benefits too. 


It's worth considering how you might make your classes more inclusive by taking these tips into account when planning ahead of time before each session starts. 

Sarah Williams

Hot Yoga Instructor