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Letter from Board VP Mindy Stoddart: Yoga for All Abilities

Dear meAndOwen.jpgFriends,

Some of you may have seen I’m heading up a fundraiser this winter for our Easter Seals yoga playgroup with Bliss Kid Yoga. I’m writing to you today to share why this program is special to me.

My interest in teaching children’s yoga was borne out of my exposure to various therapies and sensory activities encountered when my son and firstborn was very little. From a young age, he had motor and communication delays and we quickly discovered that the best way to encourage him to learn, exercise, and express himself was through playful movement and music. At the same time, we were getting a first look at pediatric physical therapy and speech therapy through Early Childhood Intervention [ECI], delivered through Easter Seals.

It was an intense time. While Owen was a delightful baby and toddler, we spent a lot of time worrying, researching doctors, navigating insurance, and–most of all–processing all that new information emotionally. I always think of this as the “diagnosis stage,” and from what I’ve seen, it’s universally an extremely challenging and emotional time for parents of children with disabilities that are either present at birth or very early in life. Most are coping with the physical and energetic demands of their child, the competing needs of other children, the staggering costs of healthcare and/or insurance premiums, and jumping through hoops with insurance to get coverage, and sitting on endless telephone holds to get their children the medical care they need. Plus, on some level, they are mourning the loss of the child they expected and getting to know the wonderful-but-different child they now have.

Their children, meanwhile, are doing what children under 3 do: They’re doing their darnedest to figure out how to communicate, how to get around, and learning who and what is safe in their world. And they do all this through play and exploration.

For our kiddos with atypical brains and bodies, this exploration may look a little different from some of their peers. This, to me, is where the creativity, musicality, and gentleness of an approach like yoga is so fantastic for kids of all abilities. It doesn’t require verbal speech, but can be taught visually and by touch. It empowers and subtly teaches confidence in one’s unique body and mind. It can be open-ended, flexible, and easily modified. Yoga gives us a way to either soothe or stimulate the nervous systems to help us and our children self-regulate our energy and emotions more effectively. Also… toddler yoga is FUN.

After all, that’s the other reason I like to teach yoga to small children. I can be as silly as I want to be and make space for everyone in the room to do the same. For our special need kids and their parents, this might be the best gift of all. Families with extra emotional stress and daily challenges NEED a place to connect with each other in a judgement-free space to move their bodies, bond with their children, and get some healing support. And that’s just what we can do for them… With your help!

Thanks for reading along. I’m grateful to be on the other side of the early days of the “diagnosis stage,” and to now be enjoying my fun-loving, gifted child. I’m also grateful to you for considering supporting Bliss Kid Yoga’s work at Easter Seals.

Here’s the link to our funding page for Adopt-a-Yogi. Please visit, share, and donate if you can! https://www.gofundme.com/adoptayogi

Thank you, namaste, and with much love,

Mindy

To learn more:

Bliss Kid Yoga www.blisskidyoga.com.

Easter Seals of Central Texas http://www.easterseals.com/centraltx.

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