Teaching Yoga for People with Disabilities – Guided by Humanity with Mary Sims

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Teaching yoga for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be an extremely rewarding yoga career. Today, we are chatting with Mary Sims, the Executive Director and Founder of the non-profit, Guided By Humanity.Β 

πŸ‘‰ How and why Guided by Humanity was started

πŸ‘‰ The mission and vision of Guided by Humanity

πŸ‘‰ The challenges, struggles and serious rewards of teaching yoga for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

πŸ‘‰ How you can get involved with Guided by Humanity

About Mary

Guided By Humanity is a non-profit organization that offers accessible, inclusive, and compassionate mindfulness programming to Colorado residents that traditionally lack access to health and wellness resources. We are dedicated to providing health and wellness opportunities to all underserved communities that are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or background.

How To Get Involved

Stay up-to-date on all of their events here!

September 13 – Yoga for All – GBH Fundraiser!

Key Takeaways

[00:06] Who is Mary Simms and Guided by Humanity

[03:08] The mission and vision of Guided by Humanity

[05:14] The biggest challenges and struggles of teaching people with intellectual disabilities

[07:52] Challenges and struggles of teaching people with physical disabilities

[10:41] The Mindfulness Bus Program

[12:08] Mary’s biggest rewards from teaching people with disabilities

[15:31] How to get involved with Guided by Humanity

Quotes from this episode

I know the therapeutic benefits of yoga just for myself personally. And I did not see anyone with a physical disability in our classes or, anyone with an intellectual disability.  So I wanted to create a space and classes where people feel safe, they feel like they belong and also they feel that they are included in the practice. And that’s why Guided By Humanity started.

Our mission is to provide inclusive, accessible, compassionate yoga and mindfulness to underserved communities. And our vision is to create those safe spaces where people feel like they belong.

If you want to teach people with disabilities, you want to understand and to recognize that there might be some things unexpected in your classroom. And as a teacher you must be really grounded. We have a specific method that is very repetitious for our new students and anyone that comes into the classroom. It’s very safe and grounded.

I don’t teach a pose if I do not know three variations of that pose. That way, I feel assured that people are included.

And I think with our Accessible Yoga Training, it’s been very helpful to empower teachers to feel like they can give a quality classroom experience. 

I would say first of all, a huge reward is the joy in the classroom. It’s always light and easy. 

There’s always laughing and there’s no competition, no judging. It’s just a really open and joyful space to be in.

Our data shows an increase in leadership skills and the voices in the room become louder and more confident.

They’re using their yoga breathing, different poses and relaxation techniques outside of the classroom. 

Raising the Bar of Yoga Teacher Professionalism

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Let’s become the change in the industry we want to see!

Kristen recognizes that yoga teachers have a significant impact on others’ lives, and because of that, we have a responsibility to raise the bar of professionalism.

Join us as we talk about her journey and what she believes makes a professional yoga teacher in Colorado.

And make sure to check out Kristen’s FB Group- The Business of Yoga – a place where teachers connect, share and inspire each other without feeling they are competing against each other. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1367265346656157/

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado. RSVP to receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Kristen:

Kristen is a Denver-based Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, Embodiment Coach, Yoga Teacher, Teacher Trainer and Mentor.

She supports her students in their own transformation so they can Live. Life. Better. Whether this means creating space around old wounds, healing from a relationship, discovering what it is that is blocking your movement forward, dealing with a life transition, or the essential emotions of anxiety, fear, sadness, or pain.

She works with clients in-person or online. You can schedule a yoga therapy session, couples session, life mentoring, or check out the upcoming Course in Transformation, as well as other group events by clicking this link: https://square.site/appointments/book/0S13J02SMQD0M/kristen-boyle-yoga-therapy

Check out Kristen online: http://www.kristenboyleyoga.com

Key Takeaways

[00:00] We are chatting and finishing up a conversation. πŸ˜‰

[02:01] Live interview starts

[03:39] Kristen’s Yoga Journey

[06:25] How can we express our professionalism to our students?

[09:56] Does the competitiveness between teachers and studios need to be there? Why? And if not, what can we do?

[16:14] Yoga is just a practice.

[17:38] There’s continued room for growth and we are all uplifted and inspired by the increasing professionalism in the yoga industry. 

[21:23] Qualities to help us raise the bar of professionalism. 

[22:31] Holding the values of yoga as a yoga teacher.

[27:48] To raise the bar of professionalism……. 

[28:36] Thoughts on the yoga journey (this is a good one!!!)

Quotes from this episode

β€œI feel like yoga teachers are incredibly wise and insightful people……they really have a lot to offer.” – Kristen Boyle

β€œLet’s work together as teachers and professionals. Let’s support each other instead of this raging competition of “these are my students and this is my studio.” Rather it needs to be a little bit more fluid and open.”  – Kristen Boyle

β€œTo strive towards a more non-competitive attitude…..I think a deeper understanding and studying of Yoga means a paradigm shift in your thinking. Rather than a contractive way of thinking we need an expansive way of thinking.  When I make a choice, I’m not only making a choice for myself, but I’m also holding that in perspective of the greater whole.”  – Kristen Boyle

β€œIf I were to define yoga into one word that word is awareness, just awareness.”  – Kristen Boyle

β€œWe can talk about the rival yoga studios and all the friction and the negativity that’s out there. We also need to acknowledge the hope and where it’s going and all the good things that we see happening. There are teachers that are stepping up to that level of professionalism and I really want to appreciate, value, and acknowledge them in this conversation as well.”  – Kristen Boyle

β€œWe need to hold ourselves accountable to the ethics of yoga as much as we hold others accountable.”  -Allison Rissel

β€œThe yoga journey – the bad news. It never ends. The good news is I think you learn to journey better.”  – Kristen Boyle

β€œI think through the practice we become process oriented rather than goal oriented or aim oriented. And we learn to be in that process which is mindfulness. Being in the moment means I’m not at the end, it means I’m in the moment in my process moving towards that.”   – Kristen Boyle