Welcome to our year of exploring all things yoga, where you'll find inspiration, tips and techniques you can use to develop a peaceful and healthy life!
I’m thrilled to share this blog with you. For years I’ve taught students of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities and I’ve loved every minute of it. Now, I get to pull back the curtain and share the amazing process of teaching yoga with you, sharing all of our ups & downs as we strive to improve ourselves in every way possible. When I decided to write this blog, I knew immediately that Jessica was my parter-in-crime! Jessica is a busy mom of five kids, has an enormous heart, and has bravely taken on the continuous process of self-discovery that yoga offers, only balking a little bit at my continual crazy suggestions! Jessica is pure inspiration, and I knew that she could help illustrate the practice of yoga in modern day life better than I.
How I met Jessica:
When I arrived in Massachusetts from Chicago in 2009, I was eager to share the practice of Yoga for the Special Child®, so I sought out groups that work with kids with special needs. Enter Jessica, the intrepid leader of the South Shore Buddy Walk, a walk to support folks who have Down Syndrome. After a few quick emails, we met at her annual event in Kingston, Massachusetts. Jessica confided in me that she had heard of Yoga for the Special Child® and always wanted to find a teacher, and I appeared, amazing! The day of the event, I ambled around, enjoyed the crowds, did the walk with a great group of adults, but couldn’t find Jessica anywhere! Just before I left, I gave one more try and lo-and-behold an event staff member directed me to the playground. I waved over the low chain link fence at the lone woman by the slides, and she immediately gave me a huge smile and practically ran to meet me. A huge hug later and we’ve been teacher-student-friends ever since. I began teaching her daughter, a beautiful young lady named Jaylin, who was born into a body with Down Syndrome. Jessica sat patiently through many of Jaylin’s classes, and I began to see seeds of a future yoga teacher in Jessica, leading me to suggest that she attend a teacher training in yoga. More on that as the year progresses!
When I am asked: “Why did you first start on your yogic journey?”, it always comes to Jaylin.
I first heard the idea of doing yoga with Jaylin when a friend mentioned that her daughter had done yoga with a Yoga for the Special Child® teacher. She always talked of how her daughter loved doing yoga, and that I should try it with Jaylin. I wanted to, but therapy appointments, doctor visits, and life just got in the way. One day, I received an email from a woman, Gita, who taught yoga and wanted to attend the Buddy Walk I was planning. Gita wanted to acclimate to the special needs community as a Yoga for the Special Child® instructor and was new to the area. I immediately felt a strong need to have my daughter work with Gita. She agreed that we would meet up at the Buddy walk event. A Buddy walk is a short walk and celebration that is held in October to raise awareness for Down Syndrome and was first started by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995. I started my own during Jaylin’s first year, as a way to help show our community how proud I am of Jaylin and other children with DS who overcome adversity every day.
The day of the event was chaotic, and I ended up taking a time out at a playground near by with Jaylin to have some alone time. I organize this event for her, but hadn’t even seen her the whole day! While I was pushing her on the swing, I saw someone coming our way and I knew immediately that it was Gita. We met with a hug, like long lost friends, and set up a date to meet.
At our first meeting, I was to come alone, and I was apprehensive about that. Jaylin was almost like my security blanket. I needed her with me to do this! But at Gita’s gentle insisting, I came alone to the first session. When we walked into her yoga room, she wanted me to sit on a yoga mat-On The Floor! I was thinking no thanks! Being polite in general, I sat down and answered the questions she asked. At the end of the meeting, I was a little more comfortable, but I was happy that Jaylin would be at the next one!
My first tentative days of yoga began...
Over the next two years, we met weekly, and Jaylin and I slowly became yogis. Jaylin was slow in the physical practice, while I was slow on everything else; breathing and quieting my mind didn’t come easily. Jaylin was born to do yoga, and has benefited in infinite ways. Gita took us in as we were, and completely changed our lives.
I feel Gita was brought to us to help nudge me into a peaceful lifestyle. She encouraged me to attend a Yoga for the Special Child® teacher training, and I reluctantly agreed to go. My goal was to attend the training so that I could continue Jaylin’s practice at home. When I shared this with Gita, she said that I could not teach if I didn’t practice myself. “How can you teach yoga if you do not know what it feels like in your own body?” She asked. Uh-oh, I thought, I guess I am going to do yoga….