2020 Grants Challenge

Conscious Connections

Our project goal is to develop engaging, innovative strategies for teaching yoga to special education students that supports not only their physical health, but also their social and emotional well-being. This project will research, implement, assess, and design yoga curriculum aimed at meeting the needs of these students and support their movement towards their unique learning goals. We aim to reach 100 special education students in Los Angeles area public schools to deliver weekly yoga classes throughout the 2020/2021 school year.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

South LA


In what stage of innovation is this project?

Pilot project or new program

What is the need you’re responding to?

Physical education (PE) standards mandated at federal and state levels are an integral component of a student’s learning and overall well-being. Yoga instruction strengthens a student’s fundamental motor skills, teaches them to learn and follow patterns, and gives opportunity to participate in group activities, meeting PE standards. Yoga also offers dynamic tools for building conscious awareness of the self and social-emotional well-being. This practice allows students to build a connection with themselves in a way that they feel empowered to connect to others and their environment. In the context of special education (SPED), these connections can be cultivated to grow social and academic inclusion opportunities, giving students tools to fortify the skills that empower them to participate. While there is a need for best practice guidelines for yoga in SPED classrooms, there is virtually little or no research on how to be most impactful with yoga instruction in SPED classrooms.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Our organization grows when our instruction is diversified to reach more students. When we diversify our instruction, we can reach larger populations of students and school communities across Los Angeles. We realize that teaching yoga to SPED students is unique not only experientially, but also pedagogically. Expanding this area of our work with research, assessment, and curriculum design will allow us to truly reach each and every student at the schools where we work. As an organization focused on yoga instruction in a school setting, we are equipped to continue expanding our breadth of knowledge in the field and grow an experiential and pedagogical understanding of what yoga has to offer SPED students. Through curriculum development, we seek to demonstrate the successes of tools and methods implemented in our work both new and thus far, and develop project findings and research into a resource toolkit accessible to other yoga teachers, educators, our SPED students and their families.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 350

Indirect Impact: 2,500

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The latest research across medical, psychological, and educational fields show that children can get life-changing benefits from yoga. These benefits support physical and emotional awareness and well-being in dynamic ways unique to yoga. We have seen, in a fast-paced, ever-changing world that the ways in which we live our everyday lives can shift quicker than ever before. Providing children with tools for maintaining not only physical and emotional well-being, but also attaining peace of mind is an invaluable practice to be used at any time. Providing children with these tools, and children with special needs particularly, empowers them to be well not only in a practice of presence but over the course of their lifetime.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

The ways we will define and measure success will largely fall under the categories of research, implementation, assessment and design. We will augment our current breadth of work by conducting a literature review on topics of physical education for SPED students as well as yoga instruction for SPED students. Our ongoing research throughout the school year will consist of written observations of yoga classes. Throughout the school year, we will carry out yoga instruction via regular, weekly classes at the school sites where we teach. We will continuously identify and implement the tools that best support student participation in class as well as those that positively support their progress toward their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals. This will include identifying ways in which yoga tools can be implemented in the student’s academic classroom and how these tools can bolster their connection to themselves and their peers. Student surveys will be conducted where it is age and ability appropriate to gather feedback on indicators of emotional/physical awareness and overall well-being. We will also partner with classroom teachers and family members to conduct electronic surveys and in-person interviews as an assessment of the impact and effectiveness of student participation in yoga classes. Our vision for success is to reach 100 SPED students at elementary schools in Los Angeles and inform a toolkit resource for yoga educators, teachers, SPED students and their families.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Social and emotional support

Disability access and inclusion

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to PLAY

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff

Strategy assistance and implementation