Today’s programs and special education classes offer many helpful options for autistic children. But what happens when these same kids reach young adulthood? When yoga teacher, Sharon Manner (Sharanya), realized her daughter would face this challenge she decided to create an alternative based in integrity, knowledge and a lot of love.
How one mother’s love and determination inspired an atmosphere for peace and well-being:
As her autistic daughter approached young adulthood, Sharon Manner realized the programs and educational opportunities that had served so well as a much-needed outlet when her daughter was younger would soon end. Concerned about the future and her daughter’s obvious lack of prospects, Sharon decided to do something about it. Because she has been studying and teaching yoga for more than 30 years, Sharon knew yoga would provide the perfect tranquil atmosphere to help foster the calm and community these autistic young adults would need in order to thrive.
The mission of Ashrams for Autism is to create yoga programs and facilities where individuals with autism can live, work, play and contribute to society. “We want to give these young adults tools that will not only help them tap into their highest potential, but also enable them to give back to their community,” explains an enthusiastic Sharon. “Ashrams are filled with light and music, and have been peaceful and healing sanctuaries for centuries – it is the absolute ideal environment for autistic people – so that’s what we are creating.” Autistic individuals thrive in an environment of routine, security and serenity. They also need to stay away from sugary snacks, have a regular exercise routine and perhaps more importantly, find a way to integrate with the rest of the population. Ashrams for Autism will provide a life of security, a pure and healing diet, yogic exercises to strengthen the body and Pranayama (yogic breathing) to calm the nervous system. These ashrams will also include cafes and juice bars so individuals will be able to learn how to juice and run the cafes, instilling a sense dignity, providing the means to contribute to society and realizing their potential.
As a 500-hour Yoga Alliance teacher, Sharon is dedicated to the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda, and maintains close ties with Integral Yoga where she teaches workshops.
Because yoga is such a valuable and effective tool for helping autistic people, Sharon offers a 45-hour teacher training for Yoga for Autism. She suggests that parents and caretakers, as well as yoga teachers or anyone looking to help and serve our autistic community can benefit from this training. There will also be ongoing workshops to help parents develop yoga programs at home, nutrition counseling and after school programs – a few of which are already in place in New Jersey and New York. “I’m confident that this yoga-inspired atmosphere combined with moderate advances in autism will continue to help to create integrated programs and facilities in which our special individuals can flourish,” notes Sharon. “All of the money we raise goes toward continuing to develop and create yoga programs, and facilities that will serve every person on the autistic spectrum.”