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Belightful Yoga Brings Classes to Special Needs Children

A Royal Oak-based mobile yoga program delivers the benefits of this mind body practice to children and kids – especially special needs families

Special needs kids – and stressed parents – are taking yoga lessons from mobile yoga studio Belightful Yoga, based in Royal Oak and serving southeast Michigan, to calm down and find a better balance in life.

The program

Founder and owner Lisa Ballo developed the mobile special needs classes in response to the increase in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. However, kids affected by Down syndrome, developmental delays and general anxiety benefit, too.

"It's fun," Ballo says. "It's very rewarding. The kids are amazing to me."

Ballo employees 16 yoga teachers, who travel to lesson sites from Macomb County to Ann Arbor. Instructors train for more than 200 hours to become certified and some have additional specialized training, including how to work with kids.

Classes are customized on the needs of the group, with private lessons also available.

Benefits of practice

Larger groups do require parental participation – and that's a good thing, Ballo says. Moms and dads are able to see and hear the techniques, visual aids and affirmations the instructors use in class, allowing them to learn and use these tools in daily life.

"A lot of it honestly is the self-esteem," adds Ballo. "It's the poses, but also the affirmations."

Additional advantages include improved motor planning and performance, increased attention span and gains in self-regulation – all through regular practice.

As if that's not enough, social skills tend to blossom, too. Some students meet before or after class for a snack and chat about class and what they learned.

A parent's perspective

Mom Suzanne Thomas, 38, of Clinton Township takes her son, Luciano Spagnolo, 13, who has autism, to these sessions as much as possible. She feels it's a good break from all the academic work Luciano focuses on during school and therapy sessions. She enjoys exercising with him, too.

"I actually liked it was something we could do together," Thomas says.

For more information about the program, visit Belightful Yoga or call 248-761-6815.

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