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The gifts and 4 life lessons I received in teaching yoga to Special Needs students

The first gift I received was when my daughter Jasmin -now 18 yrs old- was born with Down Syndrome. Jasmin has been our guiding light to living life to the fullest. Each and every day since she was born has been a heart-opening journey . Jasmin has opened my eyes of a world of possibilities in human kind.

Yoga has been in my life for over twenty years. Eight years ago I got the opportunity to teach Yoga at Summit School, a school in Montreal, Canada for students with Special Needs including Down Syndrome, Autism, ADHD and other neurological challenges. Working with these students has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Monica&Jasmin

Monica&Jasmin

Here are 4 life lessons I received from my daughter and students

1: BE PURE OF HEART
These amazing kids and young adults have pure hearts. God sent them to us to help us learn to open our hearts. To be vulnerable. To show our love to each other. One day I asked my daughter about a classmate and she describe him as KIND and SWEET, not skinny, fat, pretty or stupid. Well, that just melted my heart.

2: APPRECIATION
These students appreciate smallest things and gestures. They love eye contact, for just  that one moment they are noticed. After all, don’t we all wish to be recognized and appreciated for who we truly are?  In Yoga we learn all the deep inner layers of ourselves and these kids have taught me compassion for the self. They go straight to the source of just being them.

3: GENUINE GRATITUDE
I see so many of us taking things for granted. How we manage to turn small problems into big ones! But these students have gratitude for the simplest of things. Joy of music, dancing, hugging, meal time and friendship. I can walk into my class with the world of troubles on my shoulders and in one sweep the students bring me back to the joy of living. Now that’s GRATITUDE!

4:PRIDE IN ACHIEVEMENT
We live in a society where our achievements are never enough, where we feel that we are not enough, no matter how well we do . “85% is ok, but you can do better!”  What if we could take pride in even the little things we do?  What if we could see the gifts in all humankind. Well these students do! Maybe they know how much harder they have to work for the same things that we take for granted. Just to balance on one foot is an achievement for some people. I have seen an individual in a regular adult class beat themself up trying to do Tree Pose.  Instead they could be looking at themselves and appreciating where they are at in that moment. “Wow,” they could say, “life is amazing , look what it is showing me!”

The greatest lesson for myself has been to Love myself and others for who they are. We all have Special Needs, we just have to appreciate them as gifts they truly are.

Love&Light
Monica

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