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All Posts Tagged: Special Needs

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.



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

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.

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.

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!

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.


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Andrew Perez and Breathing For Success!

Since the last time I saw Andrew and helped him with some breathing techniques for The Special  World Olympics Games this past summer, big things have happened to him! He brought home two Gold, two Silver and one Bronze medal in  individual events, and shared the Gold with the rest of the Canadian Swim Team in the 4×50 Medley Relay. Way to go Andrew!! What an amazing achievement!  His mother, Cathy Perez, told me that it was the most incredible and proud experience for Andrew and their whole family.

Cathy also told me that the breathing exercises I had shared with Andrew in preparation for the Games had really helped him deal with the challenges and pressures he faced.  I taught Andrew three types of breath work that can help anybody to get closer to achieving their goals.  Why not give them a try too?

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

 1: 5 – 5 – 5 breathing;  to help relax the nervous system and to help you to focus.  Start by inhaling through the nose to the count of five. Then hold that breath for five, and then exhale through the nose to a count of five.  As I had suggested, Andrew did this for eleven minutes every morning.


2: Bumble Bee breathing; to help shut out exterior noise and calm the chatter in the head.  With your ears covered, begin by inhaling through the nose.  Then purse your lips and block your ears as you exhale through the nose. You will hear only buzzing and no exterior sound outside. The effect is soothing and calming.

3: Alternate nose cooling breathing exercise; this one is to cool your body down and help you sleep.  This is a simple exercise that you do by inhaling through the left nostril and exhaling out of the right for a period 11 mins. You need to give enough time to come down from your day.

These simple breathing techniques can help you deal with the stresses in your life, so give them a try.  For more details check out my videos.

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Andrew Perez, Special Olympics World Games


Monica and Andrew Perez_SML

I had the pleasure and honor working with Andrew Perez who will be participating in The Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles during the last week of July 2015.  Andrew made it to the Canadian swim team. He is a former student at Summit School for special needs. Andrew is a phenomenal being. With his great humor and out going personality, plus to boot an amazing athlete, he has made himself and his family very proud.


His mother Cathy Perez asked me to help Andrew out in dealing with challenges and pressure of the upcoming Games. The stress was starting to make him feel run down and he was having trouble sleeping. I showed him a few different breathing exercises that he could practice when needed. First was a morning breath exercise that helps to start your day on a positive note and focus. The second one is an ending breathing technique to help him relax and have a good night sleep. The third is called Bumble Bee Breath. This one helps to calm the chatter in your brain and to cut out exterior noise. This will help Andrew when he gets on a plane. For he has a fear of flying. All of these exercises you can see in my up coming videos.

I look forward to catching up with Andrew and seeing how the breathing exercises helped.  Andrew you are an amazing guy and you make our country proud!


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