Teaching by Reaching: How Yoga Empowers K-2 Children with Developmental Disabilities

Imagine a yoga class where little yogis meditate, read, sing, and bounce around with boundless energy. Now, picture this class not just promoting physical wellness, but also nurturing self-regulation and motor skills among K-2 children with developmental disabilities. That’s the magic of the K-2 Let’s Move project, a groundbreaking yoga-based curriculum spearheaded by education researchers at the University at Buffalo.

Unleashing the Power of Yoga:

Yoga and mindfulness-based programs have long been known to foster body awareness, alleviate anxiety, and promote stress management. However, their potential for children with developmental disabilities remained largely untapped until now. Led by co-principal investigator Catherine Cook-Cottone, a professor at UB’s Graduate School of Education, the study explores the transformative effects of yoga on self-regulation and motor skills in these children.

The Art of Self-Regulation:

For children with developmental disabilities, self-regulation is a vital skill that affects their behavior, communication, and overall engagement in daily activities. With yoga as their compass, these kids navigate a world that once seemed overwhelming. By mastering self-regulation, they stay attentive in class, follow teacher instructions, and embrace new experiences with confidence.

A Dynamic Curriculum:

The yoga and mindfulness-based curriculum spans ten weeks of movement, breathing exercises, relaxation, meditation games, and the enchanting world of music and books. It goes beyond conventional education by teaching children how to truly pay attention and find inner calm amidst the chaos. Vito Gigante, director of occupational therapy at the Beyond Learning Center, describes yoga as a gateway to routine, novelty, and, most importantly, self-regulation.

The Power of Unity:

Although the study is still under analysis, researchers have already witnessed remarkable changes in the students’ lives. The K-2 Let’s Move project exemplifies the synergy between researchers, educators, and families on a mission to empower children to thrive. As Cook-Cottone puts it, “We are so grateful for the opportunity to bring the scientific, problem-solving method to the schools. This wonderful community shared their challenges and ideas with us, and together we were able to study yoga in a way in which it has never been studied before.”


In the world of providing care to developmentally disabled, where case management professionals, support coordinators, and agency owners join forces, the K-2 Let’s Move project serves as a beacon of hope. With yoga-based curriculum unlocking the potential of our young champions, a bright future awaits. Let’s come together and celebrate this extraordinary journey of self-discovery, mindfulness, and empowerment. As we embark on a new era of support coordination, let yoga light the way, and let our children soar like true superheroes with their newfound developmental superpowers! Namaste!

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