Charlotte Cooke spoke to Jenny Watson, who teaches yoga to children with alternative needs and is also a volunteer here at Brighton Yoga Foundation.
With 46 out of the 68 primary schools here in Brighton already using yoga as a tool for their pupils, it is evident that the awareness of its many benefits for children is on the rise.
But did you know that yoga is even more beneficial for children with alternative needs, who struggle to sit still, self-soothe or even communicate with those around them? These benefits include:
- Releases tension, fear and frustration
- Calms their breathing
- Relaxes nervous system
- Releases nervous energy
- Helps develop self-confidence
- Decreases hyperactivity
- Increases attention and concentration
- Improves motor planning and control
- Develops body awarenessReduces obsessive behaviour
- Helps cognitive skills
Jenny Watson is one such advocate for the benefits of yoga for children with alternative needs, and as her own personal yoga journey began when she discovered the joys with her own children, it is not surprising that this is where her main focus lies.
Jenny has always worked with children, and was a SEN (Special Educational Needs) teacher for 23 years, focusing on children under 11. She incorporated the use of yoga as an alternative therapy into her role, as she was very aware that yoga had changed her own values, lifestyle and wellbeing, and she wanted to use it to similarly support the children she worked with.
After attending training with British Wheel of Yoga, and in the Sonia Sumar Method led by Jyoti Manuel at Special Yoga, Jenny started using the techniques she learnt with the nursery- aged children she worked with. Further training followed, both in Jyoti’s own methods, and from other disciplines. Becoming even more absorbed in yoga and the many benefits it had on the children, Jenny decided to give up general teaching, and has focused on teaching yoga ever since, to all age groups.
Jenny describes her two main aims as:
Ø Supporting each and every child to maximise their full potential
Ø Encouraging parents to use yoga as part of their child’s weekly – if not daily – routine
Jenny’s sessions are suitable for children of all ages, abilities and needs, and she has worked with: