Instructor: Jill Essner-Dodds, OTR/L

Community: Small Group Special Ed. The class for this lesson consists of seven middle school students that are in the DCD program. Their diagnoses include cognitively challenged, Down’s Syndrome, and autism. The special education teacher focuses on various life skills during this class, so this lesson will incorporate the principle of “Community” with the focus on communication skills.

Plan Creation Date: January 14, 2012

Yoga Calm Principle/Lesson Goal: Community  This lesson was developed to help provide basic regulation strategies for all of these students. I want them to explore simple regulation techniques in order to feel or reach a state of calmness or relaxation. They also are working on communication/social skills (i.e. eye contact, asking questions, turn taking, personal boundaries, etc.), feeling safe and being safe in this environment. I wanted to build the sense of “Community” within the school environment and reinforce their support system with each other, paraprofessionals, teachers, occupational therapist, etc.

Lesson Plan:

Setting the Tone/Environment: The room was set up with the yoga mats already set up and lights were off. Natural light was used and a window open for a breeze to come in. Soft music playing, e.g., Anjou CD. Props included fresh cut lilacs and were set at the top of each mat. On the I-board, the word “Community” was written to refer to during the lesson. The chime will be used to encourage centering, listening, and focusing within to initiate the lesson.

Breath Work/Calm: Belly Breathing with the Hoberman Sphere 6-10 breaths. (“I want you to sit on your mat and rest one hand on your low belly and the other on your upper chest. Look at the sphere or close your eyes and breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth- whatever is comfortable. Breathe in all the air to give oxygen to your body.”)

Opening Remarks: “Today I want us to explore the idea of “Community” within our school. I want all us to think about all the people in the school who are important to us, who support us, who we appreciate. Take this time to relax and think about all the people in this room. Think about your friends, teachers, paraprofessionals, me and image all us forming a circle around you to help you when you need it.”

The poses chosen were to increase grounding. The sequence is fairly simplistic, but many of these students have difficulties with motor planning and gross-motor skills.

  1. Rock and roll: (This pose was chose to provide vestibular and proprioception since this is input that all these students seek out throughout their school day.) “I want you lie on your back and bend your knees to your chest and grab your lower legs tightly. Hold your legs tightly and in vision that you are a ball. Slowly rock back and forth the whole length of your back.
  2. Roll to standing: “Slowly roll to a sitting position and quietly stand up tall.”
  3. Mountain: “Stand with your feet hip width apart. Press your feet down into the earth and feel the strength inside you. Imagine that you are a tall, strong mountain. Place your hands at your heart center and breathe in and out. Say to yourself, “I feel strong and supported.” Take a breath in and bring your hands up and slowly bend over.
  4. Forward Bend: “Bend slowly with your head and neck little bit at a time. Take your time and feel the control and support of your legs. Feel the pull of the earth and just let go. Let your arms, head, shoulders just dangle and sway. Take a nice breathe in and out. Bend your knees and plant your hands on the floor under your shoulders.”
  5. Down Dog: “Place your legs back a step or two. Press your hands and feet into the ground and imagine you are growing roots into the ground. You are stable and supported. Push with your strong arms and bend your legs a little bit and push your bottom up high. Breathe in and out- 2 times only. Feel how connected you are to the earth and this school.”
  6. Mountain: “Walk your feet forward to your hands and slowly roll your spine to a standing position. (Repeat 3 times)
  7. Last Down Dog transition to Child Pose: “Slowly lower your knees to the ground and sit on your legs. Place the tops of your feet on the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you or your head on your hands and sink into the ground. Just let go and relax and know you are safe and supported by this earth, people around you, school, etc.
  8. Tree Circle: “Let’s now form a circle. Hold your hands up to your sides and press into your friend’s or neighbor’s hands. Lift your right/left leg slowly and breathe in/out. Press your leg into the earth and in vision yourself a tree with roots running down into the ground. Try without support. Notice how your friends help and support you.

Compliment Game: This exercise will work on eye contact, giving compliments, receiving compliments while sitting in a circle with one student in the middle.
Community Circle: Focus on the community within the school to strengthen feelings of togetherness and safety within this environment.

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