Physical Therapy

YOU & ME Yoga for People with Learning Disabilities


The YOU and ME Yoga system can make a real difference to people's lives, according to a new book on the treatment and management of learning disabilities.

Learning disabilities Physical Therapy Treatment and Management – A collaborative approach, Edited by Jeanette Rennie includes a chapter on Complementary Therapies with a section on YOU and ME Yoga system, with case studies involving a person with Down's syndrome, autism and the case study below of a young woman with cerebral palsy.

The extracts below are taken from the book:
The YOU and ME Yoga for people with learning disabilities (Gunstone 1988) has been designed for individual needs to improve quality of life by:
  • coordinating the activities of mind and body
  • reducing the distracted state of mind
  • focusing the mind on the present
  • developing the adaptive behaviour
  • enhancing social behaviour
  • increasing self reliance
  • improving general health (Desikachar and Jeyachandran 1983 and 1988)
It is also used to increase students’ mobility, physical dexterity, coordination, communication, sensory awareness and self-confidence.

Programmes

Programmes are planned in conjunction with the YOU and ME record keeping system, which enables the therapist(s) to see at a glance the condition, limitations and abilities of the student(s). A general health questionnaire is used as appropriate.

The recording charts are used for students’ health, safety and welfare and for keeping a record of practice, outcomes and progress. The colour coding of both the body and the related techniques makes record keeping easy enough for most students to complete their own practice record, and indicate their feelings by ticking the column beneath the most appropriate face (for example, smiling or frowning).

This Yoga programme consists of 22 exercises called ‘joint looseners’ and 20 postures.



CASE STUDY 6: 
WOMAN WHO HAS CEREBRAL PALSY
She is 26 years old and has athetoid cerebral palsy (see Chapter 2). Initially she found it very difficult to control her involuntary movements.

The YOU and ME teaching pack explains everything very clearly with health and safety in mind. Thus trainers are enabled to select a suitable plan for people with or even without a learning disability. The colour-coded instruction pack for the postures was essential to give instructions for working out her programme plan of whole-body movement. Her programme was based on the green chest area for her main posture. It followed a similar warming-up, main posture and winding-down procedure to Table 17.5. Hence her programme benefited the whole of her body.

Progress

  • She can consciously relax completely during the relaxation period, keeping her whole body perfectly still.


  • There has been evidence of progress with other members of staff in other learning areas. She is more active and confident participation in the swimming pool; her upright sitting position in her own chair has improved; she has progressed to independent transfers from her wheelchair onto the toilet and back again although assistance to adjust her clothing is still required. She has an obvious feeling of achievement and improved dignity.

Whole-body movement is great fun, as well as motivation for learning. Everyone can join in, and anyone can perform the postures regardless of age or ability. Students develop imagination, expression and relationships.
Jeanette Rennie, BSc. MPhil. MCSP
Self-employed Physiotherapist for People with Learning Disabilities
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Yoga Research and Experience

From research and experience I found that no one Posture (asana) has a specific therapeutic effect without a general tone-up of the whole bodily system. With this in mind, the Whole-Body-Movement system was formulated. The basis of the YOU & ME Yoga system - colour coding of the body and Postures - enables trainers to teach appropriate yoga techniques to their clients with learning difficulties and special needs. This is done by reference to the seven coloured areas of the body and twenty appropriately coloured Postures - from which individual sequences of Whole-Body-Movement are determined. The techniques are organised to suit the needs and abilities of the individual. Each sequence contains Postures to ensure that the whole body is being toned while the client is made aware of each part. 


The aim of Whole-Body-Movement is to treat the whole person and not just a particular part in isolation. This is done by acknowledging the area of the body needing most attention, identifying the colour associated with that area and selecting a Main Posture in the same colour. Then, one of each of the six remaining coloured Postures is chosen to complete a sequence of Whole-Body-Movement. The value of practising Whole-Body-Movement is that it helps clients gain awareness of their feelings and bodily sensations, which leads to a greater sense of being in control.

Disabled people have unusual individual needs, and practice of Yoga Postures will vary from one client to another. Clients who have a normal range of movement can usually do the Postures in the normal way. In addition, clients with a limited range of movement can also practise some modified techniques as shown in ‘YOU & ME Yoga Postures and Variations for Special Needs’. However, prior to practice of any yoga postures or variations of them, it is necessary to understand the clients’ abilities, to be aware of what they must not do, and to establish a good relationship with them. This all adds to the inclusive spirit that exists within the YOU & ME Yoga System. Practice is aimed at improving general health, span of attention, motor coordination and social interaction.

The suitability of yoga techniques for people with special needs have been worked out with careful consideration. This includes simple yet effective techniques involving the Joint Looseners for establishing the range of joint movements and the related Yoga Postures for safe practice. These 42 techniques do not require too much balance or physical effort and have been found adequate in dealing with a wide range of problems. Apart from being simple to grasp and relatively easy to perform, they lend themselves well to adaptation. It has also been found that using simple techniques allows the teacher to be more effective.

YOU & ME Joint Looseners and Variations for Special Needs (with 247 variations) and YOU & ME Yoga Postures and Variations for Special Needs (with 462 variations) are now on offer here.

In this 7-minute video I explain a set of five YOU & ME Yoga teaching materials for use in the classroom and/or for individual needs and abilities:



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Health and Safety in Practice

Teaching YOU & ME Yoga to Students with Learning Disabilities


Before beginning the YOU & ME Yoga programme with students it is important to have a good understanding of the condition of each student and to establish if there is anything they must not do. 

The student’s needs and abilities are initially assessed by filling in the YOU & ME Health Questionnaire to determine any condition requiring precaution of any of the 42 techniques that would be contraindicative. 


General CAUTIONS

If any student has one or more of the conditions listed below, expert advice should be sought before embarking on any Loosener or Posture techniques.

Recent Surgery

It may take three months after surgery before internal healing is complete. Therefore a person may not be able to perform any technique which involves stretching or strenuous abdominal exercise without permission.

Heart Conditions

There are many types of heart conditions. It is very important to establish the amount of physical exercise a student can tolerate and the effect of the various positions on their heart function.

Can the student tolerate lying on the back (supine), or lying on their tummy (prone)?
Can the student cope with bending forward, placing the head lower than the heart?
If the answer is ‘NO’ to either of the above questions, further medical advice must be obtained.

Chest Conditions
Advice must be sought regarding stamina and effect of position on the student’s ability to breathe comfortably.

Back Problems
There are three main types of problems:

Deformity
Kyphosis (humped back) or scoliosis (‘S’ curve).
The degree of curvature varies as well as the flexibility of the curve(s).
The YOU & ME system will benefit people with these problems, but it is necessary to check the ‘Cautions’ and ‘Conditions which Limit Performance’ for the relevant Looseners or Postures to determine if medical advice is needed first.

History of Back Injury 
These students tend not to have pain until they perform a movement which aggravates the old site of injury. Students who have had muscular injuries tend to recover much better than those who have had injuries involving discs and pressure on spinal nerves.

If any pain occurs, the student must immediately stop performing the movement. It is always best to seek advice as to what the injury was and what type of movement is likely to aggravate it.

Acute Back Pain

No student with acute back pain should perform Looseners or Postures without the permission of the therapist or doctor.

Profound Multiple Disabilities
These students have severe difficulties with abnormal muscle tone, abnormal posture, deformities of many joints and learning disabilities. Often various senses of the body are also affected. Expert advice needs to be sought before beginning any practice of the YOU & ME system.

General CONDITIONS which affect performance

Poor Body Awareness

Some students do not know where body parts are and how to move just one part of the body. This is not due to a muscular or joint problem but to their learning difficulties, poor understanding and limited physical experience.

Lack of Coordination

If a student has poor body awareness there will be poor coordination.

Likewise, if body awareness improves, so will coordination. However, there are conditions where the brain has a poor ability to control coordination and poor coordination causes poor balance. 

Practise of the YOU & ME system will help improve all this.
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Physical Therapy

YOU & ME Yoga for People with Learning Disabilities

The YOU and ME Yoga system can make a real difference to people's lives, according to a new book on the treatment and management of learning disabilities.

Learning disabilities Physical Therapy Treatment and Management – A collaborative approach, Edited by Jeanette Rennie (pub Wiley, ISBN: 978-0-470-01989-4) includes a chapter on Complementary Therapies with a section on YOU and ME Yoga system, with case studies involving a person with Down's syndrome, autism and the case study below of a young woman with cerebral palsy.

The extracts below are taken from the book:
The YOU and ME Yoga for people with learning disabilities (Gunstone 1988) has been designed for individual needs to improve quality of life by:
  • coordinating the activities of mind and body
  • reducing the distracted state of mind
  • focusing the mind on the present
  • developing the adaptive behaviour
  • enhancing social behaviour
  • increasing self reliance
  • improving general health (Desikachar and Jeyachandran 1983 and 1988)
It is also used to increase students’ mobility, physical dexterity, coordination, communication, sensory awareness and self-confidence.

Programmes

Programmes are planned in conjunction with the YOU and ME record keeping system, which enables the therapist(s) to see at a glance the condition, limitations and abilities of the student(s). A general health questionnaire is used as appropriate.

The recording charts are used for students’ health, safety and welfare and for keeping a record of practice, outcomes and progress. The colour coding of both the body and the related techniques makes record keeping easy enough for most students to complete their own practice record, and indicate their feelings by ticking the column beneath the most appropriate face (for example, smiling or frowning).

This Yoga programme consists of 22 exercises called ‘joint looseners’ and 20 postures.

CASE STUDY 6: WOMAN WHO HAS CEREBRAL PALSY

Click for full-size image
She is 26 years old and has athetoid cerebral palsy (see Chapter 2). Initially she found it very difficult to control her involuntary movements.

The YOU and ME teaching pack explains everything very clearly with health and safety in mind. Thus trainers are enabled to select a suitable plan for people with or even without a learning disability. The colour-coded instruction pack for the postures was essential to give instructions for working out her programme plan of whole-body movement. Her programme was based on the green chest area for her main posture. It followed a similar warming-up, main posture and winding-down procedure to Table 17.5. Hence her programme benefited the whole of her body.

Progress

  • She can consciously relax completely during the relaxation period, keeping her whole body perfectly still.
  • There has been evidence of progress with other members of staff in other learning areas. She is more active and confi dent participation in the swimming pool; her upright sitting position in her own chair has improved; she has progressed to independent transfers from her wheelchair onto the toilet and back again although assistance to adjust her clothing is still required. She has an obvious feeling of achievement and improved dignity.

Whole-body movement is great fun, as well as motivation for learning. Everyone can join in, and anyone can perform the postures regardless of age or ability. Students develop imagination, expression and relationships.
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"I have seen great improvements in the students' abilities in the following areas: balance, strength, coordination, body awareness, breath control, posture control, relaxation skills, and social skills.”
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