Yoga is a well researched and ancient practice to help connect the mind and body. When a child develops a yoga practice they have the opportunity to develop resiliency tools to deal with inevitable life stressors. Many studies have shown that special needs populations greatly benefit from yoga practices. Studies about children with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit Disorder have demonstrated that yoga can improve motor control, coordination, self regulation and behavior.
Mindfulness was introduced to the mainstream in the 1970’s by Jon Kabat Zinn. He defines it simply as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” There have now been thousands of studies that have demonstrated its value including helping with self awareness, emotional regulation, improving impulse control and increasing focus. Mindfulness also impacts mood states and improves executive functioning. For children with special needs the research is not only demonstrating these positive impacts but also showing that when teachers and parents engage in a regular mindfulness practice that children benefit. This occurs even if the children are not explicitly taught the tools themselves. The WIM approach is to teach yoga and mindfulness to both children and adults in a fun and accessible way.