A Burton Street volunteer has begun providing yoga therapy to clients with severe autism and challenging behaviour.
Sonia Chib, qualified yoga instructor for children and special needs clients, began with Burton Street’s “The big chill” session, running weekly on Wednesday mornings. Burton Street hopes the session will attract more and become permanent, as it has evolved to include drama and intensive interaction activities.
Sonia expresses that “Crucially, yoga is accessible to everyone. Yoga is a fun, multi-faceted activity that helps to develop physical co-ordination, social co-operation and body-awareness, while promoting emotional wellbeing and a sense of peace.”
A staff member who attended the session recalls Sonia’s use of a bag of props, such as plants and toy animals – which, when taken from the bag, inspire what the next pose or activity will be. Some of the poses (known technically as asanas) include the Shark and the Morning Sun. Asanas are a prominent feature of yoga – promoting body alignment and inner strength. Regular practise of these helps to develop body awareness and control, with further practise aiding the development of muscle memory.
Sonia adds: “The Burton Street sessions provide a nurturing environment, where it is recognised that, for some, the smallest movement might represent a major milestone. “In this relaxed space, individuals will be able to explore their own potential and the session-leaders will celebrate every tiny step.” A mix of both one-to-one and small group sessions are planned, where content of the sessions will be adapted to meet clients’ personal needs at one particular time, on that particular day.
Burton Street is excited that these sessions, including: asanas, breathing exercises, chanting and meditation, may be the first of their kind in Sheffield.