Teacher Shares Yoga With Autistic Students

By  | 

PANAMA CITY-- Paul Zipes, who teaches autistic students at Cedar Grove Elementary School, has taken it upon himself to teach his group of autistic students how to inhale love and exhale hate by teaching yoga in his classroom.

Elijah, one of Zipes' students said, "It makes me feel happy."

"Some of the kids really do find it relaxing," said Yoga Instructor and Teacher, Paul Zipes. "Other kids find it as a nice way of burning off energy."

After several years of teaching autistic students and yoga, Zipes found a way to bring both of his passions together in one classroom.

"It's basically to break up the day," said Zipes. "And add a nice physical break in between instruction."

Zipes said he teaches yoga class 5 to 10 minutes a day and it benefits his students in more ways than one.

"It helps with concentration," said Zipes. "It helps with just their physical fitness, and they can become a lot happier being in a situation they're not normally in."

Local Yoga Instructor Jessica Nicolosi said, "[It's] The fight or flight response that they have they're really tense and its really awesome to see them let go and just relax."

To help with his students' social skills and because of good behavior, Zipes invited Nicolosi to be a guest yoga teacher in his classroom.

"I never thought that I would be teaching children with autism but I really love it," said Nicolosi.

Teaching those students can take a little more patience, and strategy.

"[I'll ask] What kind of animal do you like and we'll do that pose because a lot of the yoga poses are named after animals," explained Nicolosi.

Her theory has proven right.

"I like the stretch the butterfly one," said Smith.

"More and more of them are paying closer and closer attention and trying more and more," said Zipes. "Which is exactly what I want to see."