Sarah Schaffer is currently a senior student at the Free State High School in Lawrence, Kansas, United States. She is a member of the school’s concert band, where she plays the cymbals as well as the triangle. Aside from being a band member, she is also on the school’s green and silver Firebirds track team, where she’s both a sprinter and shot-putter. By seeing her so active in school, not many people would have guessed that she also has down syndrome.
Based on statistics from the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), Sarah is one of more than 400,000 people in the United States who is living with down syndrome. Individuals with such a condition have an additional full or partial copy of chromosome 21, which alters development and can lead to either mild or moderate cognitive delays. Although each individual with down syndrome has unique characteristics and degrees of abilities, there are still some similar physical characteristics. According to the NDSS, these characteristics include smaller stature, slightly upward-slanting eyes and low muscle tone.
It was the low muscle tone part that made Sarah’s mom, Rose, a nurse with a degree in exercise science, introduce her daughter to yoga. Rose believed that yoga has the capability to assist in developing core strength. This would effectively help to increase Sarah’s coordination and ability to breathe deeply, allowing more oxygen to circulate into her brain. She also made another interesting discover. Yoga before bedtime actually aid Sarah to relax and sleep better.
Presently, Sarah is a regular practitioner of yoga. She even uses the “sculpting” variety with hand weights. She takes part in classes after school as well as using DVDs when she’s at home. Her favourite part of every yoga session is the stretching as it is fun and allows her to relax. It also helped to improve on her running abilities. Her favourite pose would be the bridge and the child pose. So far, her biggest challenge with yoga is balancing on one leg. However, she has gotten better since she first began. Her advice to others would be to continue practicing yoga even if it may be difficult as it can only get better after more practices. More importantly, one would feel good once he/she is done with it. For the full story, do read it over here.