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Last month I caught up with Rina Brahmbhatt, founder of Janivs Yoga, a pop-up yoga studio focusing on teaching the practice of yoga to special needs, particularly autistic, children. Rina and I met at a beautiful yoga charity event run by our friends from AdventureYogi. AdventureYogi is a great place to find all sorts exciting and exotic of yoga holidays and retreats so you should definitely check out what they have coming up in 2017! Interview with Rina:
Tell us about the inspiration behind your not-for-profit organisation Janvis Yoga?
It all started with my little girl Janvi. About 5 years ago, I had an "Ahhaa" moment, and I wondered if Yoga will help Janvi with to become more calm, and relaxed. I practiced yoga daily, and over the years have read/collected tons of good yoga literature.
I started teaching her basic asanas using my yoga manual. She was responding well, and I felt it was time to search for a yoga centre and a teacher who can help her in this journey. We were lucky and found a centre in North London, Janvi's yoga journey continued (the centre is the Special Yoga Foundation). I felt yoga offers a very simple and easy to implement benefits for special needs children and family, and this is something which should be accessible to many children, and Janvis Yoga was born.
Why do you think it is important to make yoga available to children with autism or other special needs?
I believe that every special child should be offered an opportunity to develop, and yoga offers that simple path. In my experience as a mother and now a yoga teacher, within few sessions it is evident how receptive our children are to this method. They open up, and accept a yoga teacher (who was a stranger at first) into their world (quite willingly). Children become more communicative, and start building relationship with their inner-self, and surrounding environment.
What are some of the biggest changes or the most positive benefits you’ve seen in the children who come to your classes?
For my own daughter, jumping off from mat within 5 seconds to follow through a yoga routine for over 30 minutes has been the most amazing achievement to witness. I am very surprised how accepting and able our children are, specially some children I work with who have never experienced yoga. When we chant, I encourage them to say "Om", and almost every time they do it with ease. We have some children who have ADHD, and due to the nature of this condition, they tend to be hyperactive, but nevertheless they all come back to their mat (after few spins around the room).
Where would you like to be in 5 years from now? What are your big dreams for Janvis Yoga?
We want to reach 1000 children by 2021. This is our big vision, and currently we are working on developing other channels to make yoga accessible to as many families as possible. We also want to start offering a yoga retreat for a families with special needs children.
What would you like to say to parents who have autistic or special needs children but are not familiar with yoga and have never thought to introduce it to their children?
Be open and give it a try. I encourage parents to attend a yoga class, experience the benefit themselves before starting our children's journey. Yoga helps you to be with you, it is a togetherness of mind, body and soul, helps you to connect with yourself.
- How can people help you? How do yoga teachers and or yogis get involved with this project? Here are a few ways you can support us.
2. If you are an experienced yoga teacher who has set-up or participated in a retreat, please get in touch here.