My name is Jessica Parsons and I am a yoga teacher in Santa Barbara, CA.
What makes me unique is that I have Down Syndrome.
I come from a family of yoga teachers and I’ve been teaching yoga since I was 12. At 16, I began teaching classes for other people with special needs through the Down Syndrome Association of Santa Barbara and have been teaching “Inclusive Yoga” ever since.
I love teaching yoga and I love helping others stay strong and healthy
Inclusive yoga is a fun, accepting and accessible practice. It is for students with all skill levels and all walks of life, including students with disabilities and students with physical challenges. Every student who comes to my class does each posture at their own pace. I always have a variety of props and blankets to modify the poses, as well as ways to make it more challenging.
We have a lot of fun in my class. Everyone is welcome and there is no judgment. The class is a great way to get into yoga, exercise and connect with other students.
Since I love teaching and making new friends, I decided to start teaching Inclusive Yoga through the Adaptive PE Program in Santa Barbara. When I started this class, I learned that there are a lot of different ways to be in this world. I’ve learned some people have a hard time speaking and some have trouble moving their bodies. But in my yoga class we all do what we can and try our best.
Mostly I like to have fun with it. I think yoga and a little laughter helps bring everyone together.
When I first started, I found that I was very flexible but I struggled to keep my balance in some of the poses. Yoga has helped me to improve my balancing ability.
My friends in class have also encouraged me to try poses that I didn’t think I could do! I have helped my students with staying still during a meditation, becoming more flexible and staying calm over the course of a yoga class.
If you are interested in trying out Inclusive Yoga, check out these YouTube videos where I teach Triangle pose, Spinal Twist and Half Moon pose.
I also have a Yoga By Teens DVD that you can purchase to try a yoga class at home.
When you start practicing, remember to go at your own speed.
I think it is a good idea to take a yoga class with your friends or family because it is a fun workout where every person is an equal member of the class.
If you love yoga and you’re interested in starting a class of your own, see if you can attend an inclusive yoga teacher training in your community! You may want to bring an aide to provide support practicing the poses and understanding all of the material.