Thursday, February 11, 2010

Finding Calm and Balance Through Yoga

DALLAS -- Six-year-old Alexander Mitchell of Dallas has trouble keeping up with other kids.
As a child with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Alexander struggles to control body movements and use appropriate social interactions.
But he's flourishing in Lynne Silberman's yoga program for special-needs kids, says his mother, Kellie Baker-Mitchell.
"It has a calming effect," says Baker-Mitchell as Alexander settles happily in class, giggling with his friend Sarah Grace Salaiz, 8, of Dallas, who has Down syndrome. "When he has a meltdown at home, we do the breathing exercises."
Silberman, 25, who has worked with special-needs kids since she was 16, believes that yoga is uniquely suited for connecting with these children. One of just a handful of practitioners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area licensed by the Florida-based group Yoga for the Special Child, she sees it as a way of improving attention span, balance and strength as well as confidence and self-control.
All kids need exercise, Silberman notes. But too often, kids with special needs are rejected from organized sports or recess play for not being coordinated, focused or fast enough. In her class, they all feel like winners as they improve their skills.

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