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.
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Starting a class

You can contact us for teaching tips and health and safety, or if you have an individual or group with mixed abilities you would like some guidance? Maria Gunstone is offering contact training and online consultation, YOU & ME Yoga teacher training with supported learning and master classes.

Contact Maria Gunstone, author and trainer of YOU & ME Yoga, by email.
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There are some separate items and bundles for teaching yoga to people with special needs now on sale, with up to 25% off. All these materials are limited editions, in full colour and available while stock lasts. They can be found by clicking on Offers on our Web Store page.
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Good Timing

Now is a good time to begin the YOU & ME Yoga training programme for starting your teaching practice. Online supported learning with Maria Gunstone, author of the system is a unique opportunity to focus on your requirements to gain the expertise and confidence to teach yoga to clients with learning difficulties and disabilities, right across the age range.
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Indian inspiration

Revisiting Chennai (previously called Madras) and meeting up again with Professor Jeyachandran after two decades was a sheer delight. I can honestly say this second visit was even more satisfying than my first. He took me to several places and introduced me to various colleagues, parents and children at university - specialising in disability and yoga - two special schools, two teacher training colleges, special olympics sports and a national institute for multiply disabled people. To everyone he praised me for developing the YOU & ME Yoga system, which after all was mainly inspired by him during my first visit. (You may have read about this in The Origin of the YOU & ME Yoga System, chapter 9 The Highlight of my Fellowship.) Making contact with such people was so meaningful. I witnessed excellent management of model centres with remarkable services provided by all concerned for the children that was exceptional! I was so pleased to see how dedicated the yoga is still being taught to special educator trainees and in the schools everyday for 20 - 30 minutes to groups of children from 3 years onwards accompanied by their parent/carer.

Generally, the education for children with special needs is very thorough and family orientated. Of course there is a lot of IT development, equal to here in the West. Children are also taught appropriate skills to help with their particular family line of work, e.g. cooking, farming, sewing, machining, laundry etc. Such vocational training is in addition to the national curriculum. However, the Professor told me that if he had his way, the children would mainly be taught yoga rather than the curriculum because he has seen how helpful yoga can be for their special needs. My return visit was most heartwarming and reassuring.
While in Chennai, Jeychandran also took me with his PA, Kuluusha to visit two ancient Hindu temples. The first was The Venkateshwara Temple at Tirumala to make cosmic union with Vishnu and make one’s wishes come true. This temple is open all day. It is the most attended temple in India. There is never less than 5,000 visitors at anyone time and up to 100,000 on weekends and holiday periods. It’s annual income of 5 billion rupees is ploughed back into hundreds of choutries and charities. It holds a staff of 6,000, including 500 barbers who continually shave off heads of hair of the young and older Hindus - called tonsuring - to act as an offering to Vishnu, the protector. I think I was the only white person there and one of the minority left unshaven! Jeyachandran’s contacts meant we only had to queue for 2 hours (rather than at least 4) to arrive to see the image of Vishnu. When all at once, I was standing in front of a bright light experiencing the overwhelming divine force inviting me to make a wish come true. I made my wish for YOU & ME Yoga practice to benefit as many people as possible.

Two days later we visited Mahabalipuram with his 20 teacher trainees, which was such fun. Here we saw gigantic monolithic and granite temples, caves and statues, built 600 A.D., depicting the Hindu Gods, myths and legends. My early study of the Bhavagad Gita became an awesome reality!

After an incredible time with Professor Jeyachandran experiencing his compelling work and Indian culture. I decide to share my YOU & ME Yoga system with others who wish to benefit from it in whatever way they need. And I am ready to share my system with everyone I can because YOU & ME Yoga is as versatile as those who use it.
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You can teach Yoga

You CAN teach Yoga to people with learning difficulties or disabilities, you might just need some confidence building and a little more know how and we have the knowledge and skills to help you!

Whether it is help with understanding types of learning disabilities and approaches to assist teaching and learning processes, safe suitable techniques that you can use with individuals and groups of mixed abilities. Or perhaps you would like to make contact with other like-minded people and even get your yoga teachings presence online with our website. We have services to help you at every step of the way. The aim is to build a community network for yoga teachers to reach out and touch the lives of persons less able to benefit from Yoga.

Starting a new class with students with special needs: Do you have an individual or group with mixed abilities whom you’d like some guidance/ideas/feedback on? Maria Gunstone is offering contact training and online consultation, masterclasses, in addition to the YOU & ME Yoga user-friendly teaching materials with the option of personalised supported learning.

Contact Maria Gunstone, author and teacher trainer of YOU & ME Yoga by email on the left hand side.
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Yoga Therapy

YOU & ME Yoga Therapy is for teaching People with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities. It is suitable for clients of all abilities right across the age range, including special babies to the elderly with mild learning disabilities to profound and multiply disabled. 

The system was devised by Maria Gunstone over the past three decades, with support from various professional people and organisations involved in yoga and/or special needs in both UK and India.

Having suffered multiple injuries in 1972 from a serious car accident, through diligent yoga practice I managed to regain my strength and good health. Personally experiencing how much yoga is a worthwhile self-help therapy! I actually started teaching yoga to disabled people in 1978.

In 1984 I won a Churchill Fellowship ‘to investigate the therapeutic value of yoga for disabled people in India.’ Where I met and studied with some of the greatest yoga masters including Yogacharyas Iyengar, Gitananda, Janikiraman Yogendra, Bhole, Desikachar and Dr Gharote. A record of my Indian experience and investigation is published in ‘The Origin of the YOU & ME Yoga System’.

YOU & ME Yoga has now evolved into a highly specialised and sophisticated system, which allows the teacher to select yoga techniques precisely to meet the needs and abilities of individuals and groups with learning disabilities, allowing them to get the very most from their yoga therapy experience.

The training programme is competence-based with criteria clearly set out. It is accompanied by a set of training materials and ongoing assessment. This means each candidate’s learning experience is monitored to ensure they get the very best from both the YOU & ME course and can learn as much as possible from me. I have no doubt this will translate into increased confidence and ability to teach yoga to people with learning disabilities, as well as meet required occupational standards.

This programme is suitable for qualified Yoga Teachers and trainee yoga teachers wishing to teach individuals and small groups with special needs.
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About YOU & ME Yoga


Yoga Opening Understanding & Meaningful Experience

Maria Gunstone is Author, Director and Tutor of the YOU & ME Yoga system for people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities of all abilities. Including babies, children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. This unique yoga system uses colour to simplify learning and specialises in individualised programme planning, training and development.

‘I provide highly sophisticated special needs yoga training and teaching materials for yoga teachers, yoga teacher trainees and therapists i.e. physios and OTs.’

The YOU & ME Yoga system comprises sound, colour and Whole-Body-Movement. It has been westernised using language and terminology for ease of understanding for all concerned. The ethos of the system is the colouring of the 42 techniques appropriately for stimulating the seven different coloured parts of the body. Enabling the teaching and learning processes to result in suitable yoga programmes for each individuals’ needs and abilities.

The aim is to improve the client’s quality of life by increasing their mobility, dexterity, concentration, adaptive behaviour, communication, sensory-awareness and self-confidence.

YOU & ME Yoga

• Yoga therapy for individuals
• Teacher training for professionals
• User-friendly distance learning modules
• On-line support, tutorials and masterclasses

Contact Maria Gunstone
Tel: 020 8302 4231 / 07734 014876
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YOU & ME Yoga publications provide guidance for yoga teachers and allied therapists to safely teach yoga to all types of people with learning disabilities across the age range. All the materials are very well structured, with health and safety in mind as well as being user-friendly.

The ethos of the system is use of colour to assist the teaching and learning process. This includes a colour-coded recording system to measure students’ physical and social skills’ performance and progress.

The system comprises 42 basic yoga techniques with over 700 tried and tested variations. Plus 110 relaxation and breathing techniques performed by students with different types of abilities, which are illustrated by clear line drawings.

YOU & ME publications produces the modular materials for purchase separately or as cost effective packages, with direct supported learning with Maria Gunstone.

We are also in the process of developing training online and masterclasses to complement teachers’ training and teaching practice. This will be available next year to members. To register your interest please complete the inquiry form and for updates click on the RSS feed to the left.
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Coming soon

Watch this space for:

  • Masterclasses in teaching YOU & ME Yoga to people with learning disabilities including practical teaching tips, therapy, case studies and opportunity to ask questions
  • Live interviews with specialists working in the field 
  • Online communication forums for practitioners to share learning
  • Community network of yoga teachers (and trainees) and allied teachers/therapists interested in yoga for people with learning difficulties/disabilities
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Physios' Newsletter

We've got a mention in Firsthand, the newsletter of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists, November 2009

A course entitled “Yoga for People with Learning Difficulties – Introductory Course for Physiotherapists” took place on 26 Sept 2009 at St Michaels House, Dublin. The course was given by Maria Gunstone, author of “You and Me Yoga” and tutor of this specialized system of teaching yoga to people with learning difficulties. Maria outlined the background and ethos of the “You & Me Yoga” system, gave an overview of the basic techniques and principles used, and explored different types of learning abilities using the system.

The system is developed to allow the therapist to tailor sessions precisely to the needs of individuals and groups. Maria shared her passion and enthusiasm with 15 physiotherapists from around the country for the system she has developed over the past 20 years whereby she has carried out pioneering work in making yoga accessible and adaptable for people with learning and physical difficulties.

Chartered Physiotherapists in Disability would like to take this opportunity to thank Maria for an excellent course.
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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 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.


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.


  • 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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Yoga - for those with special needs

YOU and ME Yoga - a system of professional yoga training for teachers working with people with special needs, their carers, staff and parents. Click above for a 60 second clip of the system in action at a Cheshire day centre.

Welcome to the YOU & ME Yoga newspages. We will be updating these pages regularly with details of forthcoming courses, new training opportunities - as well as some yoga success stories where the YOU & ME system has really made a difference to people's lives.
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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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