Virtual accessible yoga sessions helping PMLD pupils keep calm and connected during lockdown

Members of staff support the pupils through the accessible yoga sessions. Picture: Royal Docks Acade

Members of staff support the pupils through the accessible yoga sessions. Picture: Royal Docks Academy - Credit: Archant

Lockdown hasn’t stopped Newham children with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) taking part in yoga lessons.

PMLD pupils at Royal Docks Academy had been taking part in accessible yoga lessons before lockdown and, to continue that work, the school has produced videos giving clear instructions for adults to assist the children from home.

Head of the PMLD unit Zama Shozi said: “At first, we were not sure if it would be possible to adapt yoga to make it accessible to our students, particularly those who find it difficult to sit quietly for five minutes.

“But, as ever, our students – even those with the most challenging needs - have exceeded our expectations and thoroughly enjoy their yoga lessons.

“When you think outside of the box, it is amazing what you can achieve.

“We only know what is going to work by giving it a try.”

Most of the 26 PMLD pupils at the Custom House school have been staying home during the pandemic due to health conditions.

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Those who are still attending school feature in the yoga videos to bring familiarity to those taking part from home.

Members of staff support the pupils – some of whom are taking part from their wheelchairs – throughout the lessons.

Mrs Shozi said the sessions are very accessible, with simple instructions and a teacher narrating what they are doing and why.

“Yoga is very relaxing; we call it our thinking time,” she said.

“It has a real calming effect on everyone; from the minute we put the yoga music on, everyone is calm.

“For those students with physical limitations, it also forms part of their stretching routine.”

The sessions provide carers and parents with an activity to do with the children at home.

Mrs Shozi said: “Some of our students have carers who go into their home, so this has been something they have been able to spend their time together doing.

“It has also helped to take some pressure off of our parents who might have wondered what they could do with their children during lockdown.

“The students are able to see their friends on the video, hear familiar voices and keep that connection with the school environment.”