If you didn’t see this Children’s Yoga Lesson Plan in the Radiant Child Yoga November newsletter, you can sign up here to get a free monthly lesson plan, as well as other great info. The lesson plan came from Kim Lauch, one of the wonderful Radiant Child Yoga teachers who is in our 95 hour teacher training program.
Radiant Child® Yoga Lesson Plan
Note from Shakta: This lesson plan is written as a narrative in order to give you the real experience of how Kim worked with Ethan. To have success with all children, and most especially with a non-verbal child with Autism, a flowing approach is called for. For this reason, we felt the lesson plan would be most authentically shared in a narrative. it is our intention that you will gain a sense of how important it is to tune in to yourself, the child, and the flow of the class. Many of the tools/ideas are from RCY 1-3 training, and RCY for Children with Autism training.
Private Yoga Class with boy with Autism
by Kim Lauch, Radiant Child Yoga Instructor, Can be reached at www.omdome.net.
Ethan is 11 years old, non-verbal and academically of the 2nd grade level. We had our class in the basement of his grandmotherʼs home. It had toys wall to wall including a mini trampoline. His mother was present and sat quietly in observation.
Speaker to play music
Paper with squares of different colors colored on it
Paper with different symbols on it (paintbrush, rabbit, snake, balloon, seal, and butterfly)
Large exercise ball
Small weighted ball
Beginning: I kept my energy calm and present. I played the song, On this day/Long Time Sun*, while I unpacked and laid out the mats. Ethan was extremely excited and banged his hands on his mat. He came over to me and rolled on my mat, which had a soft cover on it that he liked to feel.
At the end of the song I chanted, OM, 3 times. He was on his mat curled in the fetal position. At one point it sounded like he made a quiet OM sound once I finished.
Seal: Once the chanting was over he sat up and went to his toys. I said today we are going on a trip to the zoo. I incorporated Rapid Prompting Method** by showing him a seal and a snake for him to choose which animal he would like to see first. He was older and had worked with this method so I thought it would be useful. He laughed and patted the seal. Then I laid myself face-down on the ground and began seal pose, asking him to join me. He followed me and laid down on my back on top of me. I stayed present and calm and stayed in Seal.
Rabbit: Next he curled in the fetal position next to me on my left side and held my hand. I thought this position would be perfect to practice Rabbit. I said now we are going to be rabbits. He held my left hand with both of his hands. From child pose we practiced Rabbit pose with the crown of our heads on the floor. Then we would pop our heads up out of the rabbit hole, breathe, then lower down with the crown of our head on the floor. He didn’t take his eyes off of me. He had the biggest smile. He loved it! We practiced over and over, again. Maybe for 5 minutes. Once we finished he gave me a big hug.
Flying Butterfly: Next I showed him the flying butterfly image. I flew around the room, moving my arms up and down while giving verbal cues to breathe in and out, then I settled on the ground. Ethan followed with similar movements and rested beside me on the ground. He laid on his stomach and I attempted to roll him in the mat. His mom spoke and said he had never been rolled up before. I rolled him halfway with the mat. Then he moved his arms overhead, so I switched gears. While he was still half-wrapped, I rolled the large exercise ball on him. He enjoyed it for half a minute, but then gave signs he was finished. I said, “Now you are coming out of your cocoon.” And he stood up on his own. Then I unwrapped him.
Cobra: Ethan went to another toy in the room. I said we are visiting the snakes now. I practiced Cobra. He had no interest.
PaintBrush***: I walked over to his folder and I pulled out the sheet with all of the colors on it. He followed. I said each of the colors while pointing to them. Then I asked him to show me which color was his favorite. He rubbed green first, then blue. I tore off the two colors then asked him to show me which one he would like to put on his paintbrush. He rubbed his hand on blue. I rubbed my hand and then his hand on the blue color and said we are putting blue paint on our brush.
Next, I said we are going to pretend to paint our arms blue. I held his right “paintbrush” hand and crossed his body to paint his left arm. Then switched arms. He really liked it. He acted very ticklish. After painting his arms I said “Letʼs flap our arms like a butterfly to get the paint off. I sang Fly Like A Butterfly****. He watched me for a few seconds, then wandered off to play with one of the toys on the room.
Relaxation: Next, Ethan went to the couch in the middle of the room, and placed a cushion over his curled up body. At this point we had been in session for about 45 minutes. I thought maybe he would like the lights darkened. Luckily, there was a dimmer switch. I played Namo Namo (Sat Nam) then Wahe Guru by Amy Sky through my little cordless speaker. He was very calm when he came out of his curled-up, seated position from under the cushion of the couch He sat up straight and peacefully observed the room around him without making a sound.
Holding a Space: I sat on the floor and he made no eye contact. I closed my eyes and deeply breathed sending him loving, comforting energy. Every now and then he would stare at my speaker realizing where the sound was coming. He stayed on the couch focusing and observing everything in the room for 10 minutes.
I moved and sat beside the couch on the floor. I did not make eye contact or ask anything from him. I could tell he was exploring his energy and I wanted him to know I respected his space – his experience. I kept my own energy in the present moment with my breath. I stayed open so he would feel I was there for him if he needed me.
Breathing with music: Eventually, he left the couch. He walked calmly and controlled to the speaker. I gave it to him. He laid down and stretched his arms overhead while he held it. Wahe Guru was on repeat because I could tell he loved the relaxation songs. I guided his arms back and forth from overhead to his tummy while he held the speaker. I gently said we breathe in (arms overhead) we breathe out (arms on his tummy). He was smiling and calm. We repeated 5 times.
Class Ending: Next, he released the speaker and walked to another toy. I walked to Ethan and stood on his right side, held his hand, and said we are going to the mat now. He let me guide him.
Holding my left hand with the two of his, we practiced Rabbit more at his request. I knew this was what he wanted because he curled into the Rabbit position and pulled me down gently with him.
I felt it was nearing the hour so I sat from Rabbit and took a few deep breaths with my eyes closed. I chanted OM and he sat next to me and giggled. Then he laid on his stomach, cheek on the floor, and hands relaxed by his face. This was the first time he was this relaxed. It was as if his nervous system had just 100% let go – relaxed. His legs were still touching me. I chanted OM several more times while rubbing his back (his mother had told me he enjoys this). I feel he would have stayed here for longer with me chanting and rubbing his back and arms.
It was time to end the class. I said thank you to Ethan and told him class was over. He sat up and returned to his couch. His mom sat next to him. I played the On This Day/ Long Time Sun song **** while I packed up my things. As I was rolling my mat he came over and stood on it with a smile. I gave him a big hug and said I loved him and I would see him soon.
Parent’s response: Ethan’s mother sat on the floor in the same spot the entire lesson until she sat with him on the couch at the end. She was very relaxed and open to the experience. She offered to help get him to focus at the beginning of class, however, I recommended we stay present, observe, and see how it goes. She shared her amazement of how quickly he felt peaceful with me. She thinks yoga would be a great thing for Ethan, and had never thought it would work with him. She would like me to practice with him again in a few weeks.
Conclusion: This was such a special class. Honestly, I felt anxious a few days before we were scheduled to get together. I tuned in with Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo the day before, and as I sat in my car before I walked in to see Ethan. The mother was relaxed, which helped the environment. I felt so much joy and love working with Ethan because he focused, relaxed, and most of all felt safe and happy.
* From Deeply Relax and Meditate CD/MP3, Shakta Khalsa, www.childrensyoga.com
** Kim based a few techniques from RPM http://www.halo-soma.org/learning_faqs.php
In her words, “I kind of created a tool blending the tearing technique of RPM with animal drawings of yoga poses. I used colors that were also torn, and used with the paintbrush game/meditation learned in RCY ADHD/Autism course.”
*** Paintbrush is a sensory technique from RCY Yoga for Children with ADHD/Autism training, www.childrensyoga.com
****Fly Like A Butterfly song, from Happy CD/MP3, www.childrensyoga.com
***** From Deeply Relax and Meditate CD/MP3, http://www.childrensyoga.com