Yoga for the Special Child
What a week!
I attended the basic program training – ‘Yoga for the Special Child’ in Melbourne with Sonia Sumar (Sivakami) a few weeks ago. Sonia’s story is incredible, you can read more about her journey on her website.
I am forever grateful to my beautiful soulsista Lena, for introducing me to Yoga over ten years ago. It was then the seeds of Yoga were planted and have grown into my passion and being ever since. It was this passion and intrigue that led me to India to explore more, and soon after, become a qualified Yoga Teacher. I draw a lot of strength from Yoga, and often wonder how I would cope without it 😉 So life has interestingly delivered to me, a beautiful student named Chiara, who survived a stroke in utero, in fact she is my daughter, with special needs, and I soon learnt that it was I – who was the student, and she, the teacher.
We are both navigating our way through this new ‘less travelled’ terrain. The road is different, full of sudden unexpected pot-holes, and just when we’re in cruise-control, the conditions abruptly change and shock the senses awake. The road is often slippery, winding with many a dead end. Yet equally the road is solid and expansive, opening up a multitude of superhighways.. it just depends on which path is chosen, at the fork in the road. And funnily enough a mirage or two can appear on those long tiring drives, and that’s when I get the vision of Chiara completely healthy, thriving and free. That alone keeps me focused and moving forward 😉
So… Yoga for the Special Child!. YOGA literally translates ‘to unite’, ‘to join’. I was lucky that Sonia herself led the course, it was an absolute honour to learn directly from her. What a woman! Sonia embodies the true essence of Yoga and you can’t help but feel connected, loved and inspired in her presence. Her personal story alone, was enough to make my jaw drop. Let alone the continuous work she has done around the world for Special Needs Children, even after the loss of her own daughter Roberta (a beautiful little Yogini indeed). Sonia transformed a devastating loss into a world of Love.. a love for each and every child.. with or without special needs.
I laughed, I cried and everything in between as we journeyed together into the realm of Yoga, Special Needs and LOVE. I am so grateful to be anchored back into the teachings of Yoga, I feel a limitless potential for Chiara and those around her. During the course, I had so many goose-bump moments, it was phenomenal. There I sat, in a tranquil Yoga studio with Sonia Sumar and everything made sense. YOGA, amazing YOGA.. see’s the person as a whole. Any mother of a special needs child knows what its like to have your child broken down into sections or separate parts. It’s a constant treadmill of specialists appointments from geneticists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, audiologists, otolarynologists, physiotherapists, orthopaedics.. the list goes on and on. I recall leaving many hospital appointments with my perfect little baby in my arms, only to be told that she was in fact quite broken. Like mixed pieces of a puzzle, that no matter how hard you tried to fit back together, were never going to connect; and being told ‘that a hope for a cure is simply unrealistic’ and ‘to prepare myself for a severely disabled child’. I too felt broken, like a wounded solider after many hospital visits. It was that deep shock and sadness that knocks you to your knee’s, takes your breath away and makes you feel sick, all in one..
And there it was CHIARA as a whole! YOGA, an ancient practice with its very purpose to help each one of us to achieve our highest potential and to experience health and happiness. Thank you universe, for aligning the star’s so I could attend this course and to be reminded that there is indeed, so much hope and endless possibilities for transformation through love alone!
The physical benefits of Yoga alone are so beneficial for Chiara (not to mention all the other sheaths of the body & mind that it works on). Yoga helps to strengthen muscles and tendon. To nourish the internal organs and purify the digestive, pulmonary, cardiovascular and lymphatic systems. The brain cells become nourished and stimulated as we work from the inside – out. This seems to be the foundation of so many eastern approaches, they invest time and energy from within, out. Wheres the west seems to be so heavily focused on the outer layer, the external… but healing and happiness begin within..
To watch Sonia practice Yoga with Chiara was awe-inspiring, she connected soul-to-soul with Chiara. The love & connection in the room was palpable. Chiara was making some gentle sounds and even following some of the cue’s that Sonia gave her during the yoga class, like to lift her arm to her knee when lying in supine. Even I was surprised that Chiara understood and responded. Sonia related to Chiara as a perfect child, with no broken parts, rather, as a child who is in fact so smart, capable with boundless opportunity. It really felt like a miracle before my eyes, on so many levels – Iike from within – out! Grace even got to be a part of the class too – bless. She’s been singing Hari Om’s eversince 😉
Yoga works on so many levels, but most importantly it’s aim is oneness, wholeness and connectedness. For Sonia’s work with special needs children, she has divided the methods into five areas of practice 1. Mantra’s, chanting; 2.Kriya – cleansing practices; 3.Pranyama, – breathing exercises; 4. Asana’s; 5. Yoga nidra – deep relaxation. I have since began to practice Yoga at home with Chiara, I feel a lot more confident in moving her body, especially given that her limbs can become so stiff due to the cerebral palsy, doctor’s have warned us that fracturing can occur given her high tone. She loves the chanting, making sounds back to me and faint sounds of Ommmmmmmm
- We are working from within – out. Helping to awaken her inner power – in Yoga terms “Shakti”
- It’s the quality, not quantity of Chiara’s life that is important (sometimes we need all need the reminder)
- The enormous therapeutic benefits of daily practice for her entire body
- The healing benefits of Mantra, sound and music. Pranyamana and Meditation
- To LOVE (with out expectations) – a tough one for us special needs muma’s as I know deep down I have been yearning for Chiara to roll, crawl, sit, stand or even walk… but can you just imagine the wonderful feeling of being able to simply LOVE in the present moment, without continually wishing for something else or worrying if or how she will survive without certain physical and intellectual skills…
- Patience is integral to the Yogic journey and equally the special needs journey
- Fearlessness – yep going to hold onto this one! I think both Chiara and I have had enough fear since her birth
I left the course feeling expansive, hopeful and completely trusting that Chiara chose me for her mother. And with Yoga, Love and Faith…. miracles can and will happen.
Sonia (Sivakami) and her beautiful Brazillian soul ooooze’s pure LOVE, laughter and light. She is a pillar of strength, wisdom and a gift to so many children with special needs. I’m already looking forward to the next training program next year. Until then, I will keep sharing the gift of Yoga to Chiara and Grace… and hopefully other children down the track.
Sonia ends each Yoga class with these beautiful words, and they have become part of our daily mantra at home. Grace know’s it off by heart now… bless!
“I am peace, I am Joy
I am love, I am Light,
I have a beautiful light inside my heart,
Which was given to me when I was born
And because of this light
I am not afraid of anything or anyone”
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (peace, peace, peace)