Downs syndrome yoga case-study

John’s YOU & ME Yoga 
Case Study by Daniel Mold
John who has Downs syndrome, age 23, has attended for three years at Orchard Hill College of FE, Carshalton, Surrey.  It was determined that it would be useful for John to engage in some physical activity to use and maintain his physical abilities and to help with weight control.  Thus two years ago John began the YOU & ME Yoga programme.  John showed little interest in sport, or adapted sport activities, but was interested in walking, obstacle courses and mat exercises.
John can move quite quickly although he likes to engage in tasks at a slower, more careful pace.  He usually chooses not to use his verbal language skills and as a result of this it is hard for staff at the College to identify problems when John is frustrated or unhappy.  It was thought that yoga might provide a way for John to express himself.
John was keen to participate in the yoga group from the very beginning.  The group is small and each session lasts for thirty minutes.  After watching a demonstration he copies the Postures quite easily.  John chooses the Postures he wants to carry out by pointing to the printed cards.
John has practised YOU & ME Yoga at least twice a week over the last two years and can now complete most of the Postures independently.  The yoga session begins by sitting crossed legged on a mat and John will do this without needing to be asked.  He has gained the confidence to use his voice during yoga sessions - he knows the names of the Looseners and Postures and occasionally says which ones he would like to try.
John’s general confidence has grown.  He will demonstrate movements to others in the yoga group, something that he was reluctant to do in the early stages.  Also, yoga has been a means of new staff developing a trusting relationship with him.
When John does the Cat Posture, he imitates the action of a cat licking a dish when his head is down.  This initiation of communication through mime has led to John beginning a drama course, which he also thoroughly enjoys.

Here is a video showing different students in different parts of the UK performing the Cat Posture in their very special way.