This week is National Down’s Syndrome Week, and 21 March has been designated as “World Down Syndrome Day” by the United Nations. The aim of the week is to raise awareness and understanding of the condition which affects approximately 1 in 800 births worldwide. It is also about promoting the rights of those with Down’s Syndrome to enable them to enjoy a full and active life in their communities.
Yoga is a great form of exercise for children with Down’s Syndrome. Hypotonia (or low muscle tone) is characteristic in most children with Down’s Syndome. In addition to all the usual benefits of yoga, yoga poses help to strengthen the muscles, tighten the ligaments, and tone the overall body. Standing poses such as Mountain, Triangle and Warrior II are especially beneficial for unstable knee caps, weak ankles and flat feet.
In this post, we look at the difference weekly Yoga’d Up classes have made to Izzie, who is autistic and has Downs Syndrome. Her status within her class had always been low; causing her to suffer from low self-esteem. Her peers expected very little from her and sadly communicated with her only when absolutely necessary. This had caused Izzie to suffer from anxiety about school as a whole, and she had become very withdrawn and dependent on her support worker.
When the school introduced Yoga’d Up classes, Izzie was reluctant to join in at first and unfriendly to the teacher. This soon changed when she discovered, along with the rest of us, that she had a natural aptitude for yoga! Children with Downs Syndrome are often good at yoga, as they are naturally very flexible. Izzie is incredibly flexible and this has generated a very different response from her peers, exclamations of “Wow! Look at Izzie!”
Izzie has responded to this by enjoying her time in the limelight. She is now regarded with a great deal more respect by her peers, has gained in confidence and started to enjoy school more again.
(This story has been provided with permission from Izzy and her family).