Special Needs

Emmett’s Yoga

Lately I’ve been enjoying creating a yoga practice for my 12 year old son with special needs. He has cerebral palsy that severely affects all of his limbs, his spine, his communication, his eating, and much more.

After I change his diaper, I situate him in different positions that stimulate each of the main chakras — the top of his head touching his bed, his legs and hips lifted in the air, his chest lifted up, a spinal twist, external rotation of each leg, and supported standing as he leans against the bed. He smiles for all of it. I tell him that this is asana.

Then I get him into his chair and tell him it’s time for his deep breathing exercises. I use a small plastic mask over his nose and mouth for a brief period to initiate deep breathing and then take it off and watch his chest continue to rise and expand as he inhales a greater amount of oxygen than is typical. That is his pranayama practice – it continues throughout the day.

Then comes his most favorite part – his mantra time. I press my face up to the side of his head and repeat “Om” over and over. He lets out little giggles as he feels the primordial vibration of creation.