You know how people say we each have a calling, something we were put on this earth to do?
I started my career working with children with autism and special needs, not knowing that it would transform into something that literally ignites me to the core of my being. I owe where I am in my life to one little boy whom I met years ago named Austin. At the time I was a pre-school assistant in Boston. I always loved being around children so it was no surprise to others that I chose to study education. Austin was a unique boy who had a fascination with vacuum cleaners, had difficulty with speech and communication and had many challenges getting along socially with others. For some reason, we gravitated towards each other. I appreciated his quirkiness and underneath all of his challenges I saw an incredibly bright, capable and beautiful human being.
Austin had difficulty focusing, sharing, following directions and following the class routine. I saw the struggle he was having in class and the frustration and concern of his mom, a single mother doing her best to understand and support her young son.
I pondered ways to help Austin be more successful in the classroom and wondered what could be the reason he struggled so much. That’s when I learned about autism. I became fascinated with this topic and began to realize that many of the characteristics of autism were characteristics that Austin displayed. I researched ways to support Austin in the classroom and he and I worked together to bridge the gap between he and his peers. I’ll never forget the bond we had together and to this day he has a special place in my heart.
Years later, having pursued a career in special education, I stumbled across yoga.
\Yoga began as a way for me to heal myself from physical injuries and to reduce the stress and anxiety I was experiencing in my life. As I delved deeper into my yoga practice and I noticed the healing benefits that came from it, I made the decision to become a yoga teacher, with a passion for facilitating healing and well-being in others. It was only natural that I began to incorporate yoga into my classroom routine with my students. I was amazed by the positive response from the students and saw a difference in their levels of anxiety, focus, concentration and self-regulation when they practiced breathing strategies and physical poses.
I was so passionate about the benefits of yoga for children with autism and special needs that I decided to write a book.
Here I am today, with a published book, doing what I love. I feel incredibly blessed and grateful for the ability to fuse my two passions together and share them with the world. Behind every behavior, challenge or struggle, in every child is a beautiful light, an incredible human being. My why is… helping them shine their lights brightly for all to see, because…it’s my calling, simple and beautiful as that.
Thank you for being the beautiful, radiant, quirky, bright and unique boy you were back then. Because of you I found my calling. I hope you are happy and shining your light in the world.
Much Love, Shawnee
For breakfast, I had organic yogurt with unsweetened coconut flakes and sliced bananas.
Author Profile: @yogabyshawnee