Teaching Hatha Yoga – Social Skills and Social Events

By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

If you are teaching Yoga sessions on a regular basis, or plan to, social skills are an absolute must. Running a Yoga studio, and teaching classes, has much in common with being a coordinator of social gatherings or an activities director.

Recently, this was the topic of discussion between a colleague and I, who said she was too busy to be a “social butterfly.” She felt that teaching Yoga lessons is enough and her students should be grateful for the experience.

While I can appreciate her honest opinion, and I know she is a competent Yoga teacher, there is a void, within her studio, of a social atmosphere. She has a receptionist, faculty, and staff members, who could fill in the public relations gaps at her studio.

When I suggested the idea, she felt it was unprofessional to turn a studio or ashram into a social center. She said, “I want real Yoga students who are completely committed to practice and I don’t want a meeting place for fly-by-night introductions.”

However, with the recent summer slow down and the “new economy,” she called me to ask for a few ideas for social gatherings. We talk for almost an hour, but I can give you a summary of ideas that can bring new students into your studio.

In the fall, we have our annual St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fundraiser. It is a combination of an open house, Yoga marathon, and a fund raiser. Our next St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fund raiser starts on October 4, 2008, at 9:00 a.m., and ends at noon.

What does St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital do? St. Jude’s is the second largest health care research charity in the United States. Their mission is to cure cancer in children and they also research other catastrophic diseases.

Now, you might say, “I would rather have a fund raiser for my own studio than a charity. My studio needs students. How will this help me?” You are right – this will not help you get new students in the short-term. What it will do is raise the awareness level in your community about what you do and what you are about.

You might get some new Yoga students over the long-term, as a result of your charitable efforts. Karma is such a powerful law that only good things can come from your selfless service; and parents should not have to suffer the loss of a child.

If you are considering a grand opening, open house, partner Yoga night, charitable event, or a combination of these ideas, to get some public exposure, it is a win-win event. Your community, your favorite charity, and your studio will all benefit from your efforts.

Lastly, you are welcome to visit Aura on October 4, 2008. Donations can be sent by post to the following address.

Aura Wellness Center
21 Park Street, Suite 202
Attleboro, MA 02703

Checks should be made out to: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

© Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Yoga For Special Children

By Dr. Rita Khanna

Yoga is a stimulating way to reach children, especially those with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disabilities, and other developmental delays. Yoga stimulates all affected areas & develops strength, flexibility, concentration, and balance, in those. Yoga calms the physical body thus, making the mind peaceful & quiet. Gradually, the child becomes more organized and focused and develops tolerance for longer schedules. Yoga has a positive effect on gross motor, fine motor & visual motor conditions. It also promotes strength and self-esteem. Anyone can maximize his or her potential from consistent practice of Yoga, and these children are no exception.

Case Study Of Jayashree

I first met Jaya three months back in my Yoga Studio with her mother Madhu. Madhu is one of my oldest Yoga students. Jaya is 19 years old; a sweet young girl who has been a case of mild spasticity with borderline intelligence since the age of four. From then on, she has been undergoing regular physiotherapy and special education, both of which have tremendously contributed to her improvement. She attends the school for slow learners (Shraddha Centre for Exceptional Children) at Rasoolpura, Secunderabad. She is a student of Level “H”. This school has and is continuing to play a vital role in developing her all round personality.

Jaya got enrolled along with Madhu in regular Yoga class which had other students also. I was quite apprehensive as to whether I’ll be able to teach Jaya along with others in a regular adult Yoga class. My doubts proved unfounded. She just took 2-3 weeks to understand about the Asanas & Pranayama techniques. It conveyed that her IQ level is very good & she has an excellent memory. Today, Jaya is familiar with all the nuances of the Yoga routine & she has begun to show great enthusiasm for all activities. She now seems to be one-step ahead of herself in everything & without my assistance. With each passing class, her body condition is improving & I am so contented to see her improvement.

She is also able to sustain a prolonged period of deep relaxation at the end of each Yoga session and in fact is very fond of this quiet time of awareness. I find her to be extremely disciplined & regular and does not want to miss any class. At times when her mother wants to miss a class for some reason, she prevails upon her. She has developed the capability to climb up two flights of stairs during this time.

Jaya’s mother has in her feedback says that she appears much calmer after our sessions & there are lots of improvements in her behaviour. Further, she has noticed the following benefits that have enured to her:

  1. Increased focus and concentration
  2. More friendly and co-operative
  3. Absence of Irritability
  4. Better clarity in Speech-engaging in longer conversations spontaneously
  5. More zestful and enthusiastic
  6. Enjoying her Yoga classes thoroughly and not taking very kindly when we ask her to miss a class!
  7. Improved repartee

Now I want to bring her attention to the muscle groups, encouraging her to breathe deep regularly & work on perfecting her standing poses. I am sure all this is achievable in the near future. Jaya loves this class and the other students are greatly impressed by her newfound ability to perform asanas, as well as her overall attitude and maturity. She has become the darling of our Yoga class. I know how proud Jaya would be to see herself in this article. I can well imagine her innocent & pure smile and I am equally proud of her.

Yoga Practices Useful For These Children

Modified Head Stand

By reversing the pull of gravity, this asana redirects the flow of blood and lymph throughout the entire body, benefiting the brain, central nervous system and upper endocrine glands. Hold the pose for only a few seconds and then gradually increase the duration.

Viparitkarani, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana, Halasana, Suptavajrasana

These help in increasing blood flow to the head region.

Padahastasana, Trikonasana, Veerabhadrasana

They increase the energy level.

Vrikshasana, Ardhachakrasana

These postures increase balance & concentration


It improves flexibility of the body.

Bhujangaana, Ushtrasana, Chakrasana

These are useful for improving their self-confidence level and improve the body stance.

Breathing Exercises

Omkar chanting, Kapalabhati, Bhastrika and Alternate Nostril Breathing

All these breathing exercises are very useful because these are noisy types of techniques & help to capture the attention, create a focus for the asanas that follow.

Meditation/ Deep Relaxation

Om meditation as well as loud chanting of longer mantras gives very good effect in these children. These are useful in maintaining their concentration and improve their alertness with rest and relaxation. Helps in strengthening the nervous system and calms the mind.

Daily Foot Massage

This helps to work out points of tension in the body.

Note To Parents

Every child has different needs and capabilities. A pose that is beneficial for one child may be harmful to another. Please do not attempt any of the exercises or poses described in this article without first consulting your paediatrician and scheduling an evaluation of your child with a certified Yoga for the Special Child practitioner. All parents can be good role models and nourish their child’s development and home program by engaging in a yoga class themselves.

In case of any query, contact

Dr. Rita Khanna
2nd floor, Plot#22, Suman Housing Colony, West Marredpally, India
Mobile: 09849772485 Ph:-040-65173344
Email: ritukhanna57@hotmail.com
The Yoga Studio is open 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Dr. Rita Khanna

Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into his discipline over two decades ago by world famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh.

She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succour to several chronic and terminally ill patients.

At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is teaching Yoga in Secunderabad. She has been treating and curing various diseases and disorders through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy and has been achieving tremendous satisfaction in disseminating this virtue.