Yoga is a great way to work on your flexibility and strength. Just about everyone can do it, too — it’s not just for people who can touch their toes or want to meditate. Simon* is a perfect example of someone who has benefitted from his participation in a Yoga class. Simon is a teenage boy with CP living in Victoria. His mom enrolled him in CPABC adapted Yoga upon hearing about the class. They had never thought of Yoga as a possible activity for Simon, but were excited to try it out. Although Simon was used to extensive physiotherapy, including stretching, to address the symptoms of his CP, these exercises have always been a necessary chore that were often met with protest or resistance. Like physiotherapy, Yoga can significantly help people with CP by reducing the high muscle tone which is characteristic of most children with CP. Yoga promotes relaxation, stress reduction and anxiety reduction, which can help promote general well-being.
Simon and his mother began regularly attend the Yoga classes together, and as the weeks went on they began to see the progress they were making in their Yoga practice, not only Simon but his mother too. The program focuses on making Yoga accessible to everyone – including caregivers and family –by tailoring the program to each participant’s unique abilities. This has allowed Simon’s mother to also benefit from the positive mind and body effects of Yoga.
Through the twelve weeks of Yoga Simon has made noticeable improvement in his balance and his ability to focus. However, this just the beginning for Simon: he can’t wait for Yoga to start again after the holidays. For the next session he is looking forward to working with the instructor to improve his breathing and flexibility, which are two things that he struggles with due to his CP. Increased flexibility and strength developed through the practice of yoga is proven to help expand the rib cage, allowing for increased lung capacity, increasing respiratory and digestive efficiency for people with CP.
The class also has is the social benefits. Simon has found it to be comfortable and accepting place where he has met other youth, children and adults with CP. This is a place where Simon can be himself, try new things and push himself without fear or judgement. Asking for help or adaptations is not considered disruptive as it is central to the functioning of the class and is encouraged for all participants.
Simon’s mother has also expressed how the inclusive nature of the class has given them the opportunity to participate in an activity together for the first time. Sharing this activity has been a truly rewarding experience for this mother and son duo.
*All names have been changed to protect identity of participants.