Yoga for Diverse Learners

A Full Manual for Educators

Designed by award winning author Jenny Kierstead, founder of Breathing Space Yoga Studios and Yoga in Schools.

The Yoga for Diverse Learners program is the result of a one year process, where each lesson was piloted in the Chignecto Regional Centre for Education.

This curriculum draws on the Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory, by including music, mandalas, partner yoga, breathing techniques, asanas and meditation. There are fifteen sequential lesson plans, followed by specialized programs for Down Syndrome, Chair Yoga and Global Developmental Delay. Also found within these pages are inspiring and candid student testimonials and photos.

When we set out to create the curriculum for this program, we focused on:


Creating a safe environment with clear expectations, where students can have fun through movement, social interaction and independence.


Through breathing, posture development, body awareness and body/mind integration, students will gain understanding of health promoting practices and habits.


Students will experience an enhanced sense of self esteem, happiness, well‐being and confidence.

This program has provided students who have diverse learning needs with opportunities to participate in a new and challenging healthy activity, of which they always need more.

It is common for teachers and support staff to develop preconceived notions of where these students’ limits are, and we are firm believers in letting them explore their own limits to identify where they stand.


Quite frequently we set low expectations and standards for these students, and school then becomes under‐stimulating for them. In yoga, they learn tools such as deep breathing to help them relax. Yoga gives them time in their day to pull away from their highly stimulating world and to clear their minds.

Yoga provides a safe and accepting venue where these students can explore and challenge their limits, while developing awareness of the self.

This has proven to boost confidence levels, enhance students’ socialization skills and foster inner peace.

The intention to share this modality that enhances physical strength, motor coordination, mental concentration and well being with every student living with special needs. They will have a regular experience of deep peace and joy by touching the place within themselves that is inextricably connected to all of humanity.

What this program offers is the timeless teachings of yoga and meditation, compiled in a unique way to meet the needs of the special child, based on research, first hand experience and student feedback.

Yoga Remedies in Action

The following are a few observations of this
varied population and suggested yoga remedies:

The majority of students have some form of Kyphosis (rounding of shoulders), possibly due to weak muscle tone in core, low self‐esteem, genetic postural conditions.

Yoga Rx:

This program includes gentle backbends such as supported fish, half bridge and reverse table to counter this kyphotic tendency

With the exception of Down Syndrome students who tend toward hyper‐flexibility & joint laxity, most exhibit some degree of tension through the backside, namely hamstrings and lumbar spine.

Yoga Rx:

Sun Salutation, and forward bends (with the hips elevated in seated versions) help to relieve tension in muscles and fascial tissue.

Many students demonstrated poor posture in the form of forward head carriage where the head is thrust in front of the torso, putting significant strain on the vertebrae in the neck and inhibiting one’s ability breathe deeply.

Yoga Rx:

Mountain Pose against the wall provides instant feedback for proper alignment and properly supporting the head in Savasana with a low block behind the head or a towel under the neck enhances students’ awareness of their ideal head positioning. Eye exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the eyes, alleviating the need to squint or lean forward in order to read.

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Download a FREE Yoga For Diverse Learners Lesson Plan