Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Whole-Body Joint Looseners PhysioTool


Explanation of the Colour Code
We use colour because it is one of the best mediums through which people can be motivated to learn. The use of colour in the YOU & ME Yoga system helps special clients understand that Yoga is a meaningful experience for the whole of their body.

Hence, the legs are coloured red, hips and lower back orange, waist and mid-back yellow, chest and upper back green, and the arms blue. Indigo and violet colours represent the mindful aspect of the movements: Indigo deals with coordination and violet the concept of whole body awareness.

Colour assists with the learning process and the selection of a sequence of movement for the whole body organised to suit the client's needs and abilities. 

Variations of the Looseners
If there is restriction in performing any particular Loosener in the usual way, a variation can be used instead. For example, if the client has restricted leg movement, a red variation technique can be selected for the client’s ability. 
It is necessary to include one of each of the coloured Looseners for a carefully selected and arranged sequence of Whole-Body Joint Looseners. 

Health and Safety
Before planning a Joint Looseners programme for clients, it is necessary to be aware of any client’s health condition that could cause any of the Joint Looseners to be contraindicative. This information is available in the Whole-Body Joint Looseners and Variations for Special Needs’ PhysioTool. 

PhysioTools
Provides and develops software to produce lesson plans and personalised exercise handouts, at the click of a button. PhysioTools is the world’s largest exercise library with 20,000+ techniques, which can be installed on the computer or use online. It is used by healthcare and fitness professionals around the world.

Select. Edit. Print. Email.
Simply select the techniques, edit the text to customize, then print or email the handout, as appropriate. Whether you choose to install the DVD or prefer using the software online, PhysioTools has the right exercise product for your clients.

Voucher 
By using this voucher code: MGPX66 you can get 10% discount off any PhysioTools product, including the colour-coded Whole-Body Joint Looseners and Variations for Special Needs module with 706 line drawings:  Go to Link: http://eepurl.com/bfG6Yb


Sunday, 25 May 2014

My Yoga Life


My health frequently reminds me not to push myself physically and I have found a lot of salvation through my yoga practice. I start my practice in bed in the mornings on waking by focusing on my breathing allowing the ebbing-and-flowing of the breath to come and go freely. I am sure that it is this powerful practice that has kept me from getting bogged down with the innumerable obstacles and challenges and helped me to keep my concentration on developing the YOU & ME yoga system over all these years.

Yoga has been a major part of my life, which started when I was twenty following a serious car accident. Since then my life has evolved through different aspects of yoga as follows:

1. Improving my health through regular practise of Hatha (physical posture) Yoga to increase flexibility and stamina.

2. Recognising healing taking place in my body through conscious relaxation techniques by becoming still, aware and revitalised. (Yoga Nidra.)

3. Supporting my mental and emotional needs through Pranayama (breath control) and increasing my vitality and ability to focus and to be calm with a sense of harmony within.

4. Overcoming amnesia through constant remembering and mindfulness techniques improving my ability to concentrate introspectively. (Pratyahara – withdrawing the five physical senses, and Dharana – concentration.)

5. Building my confidence through teaching Yoga. (Karma yoga – cause and effect.)

6. Applying selflessness and humanity through sharing my benefits of practice with other disabled people and their carers. (Bhakti – yoga of love).

7. Developing awareness of my thinking through ‘Science of Mind’. (Raja yoga is the yoga of the mind.)

8. Broadening my education and social skills through my Travelling Churchill Fellowship in India. (Meeting the great Yoga Masters.)

9. Intellectual development through writing about my investigations in India, inspired by the enthusiasm and guidance of Beatrice Hope Alexander (personal advisor).

10. Acquiring analytical skills through synthesizing my yoga knowledge and experience into the comprehensive YOU & ME Yoga programmes for students, trainers and tutor trainers. This motivated me to endure my mission, even though it unexpectedly took several years to accomplish. (Jnana – yoga of knowledge; Dhyana – contemplation.)

11. Attunement with my environment and experience being one with the universe through meditation. (Laya – yoga of merging of the Mind.)

12. Developing a training network in order to develop professional relationships among those who practise YOU & ME Yoga. (Bhavna – yoga of thinking, feeling and reasoning to reach the final aim). I am sure there will be those who will shine through to train the future Tutors of Trainers, which will mean the YOU & ME system shall reign beyond my mission this lifetime! Then I should like to think I shall reach a state of contentment. (Samadhi – Bliss ecstasy).

Extracted from 'The Origin of the YOU & ME Yoga System'
Maria Gunstone

If you would like to train with me in YOU & ME Yoga or require consultation, please contact: maria@youandmeyoga.com


Monday, 28 April 2014

Swallow that cough away



Recently going on holiday visiting a friend Luzia who I'd taught yoga 33 years ago, seeing first time since she moved to France 11 years ago. Having boarding my flight to Poitier, sitting comfortably in my seat. When just before take off a lady sat next to me who started coughing endlessly. I was not so worried about catching her germs, as it was a dry cough, but was more bothered by her discomfort.

Sitting in close proximity soon after take off I casually mentioned, "You have a nasty cough." She replied, "Yes I caught it in England looking after my grandchildren. I shall go to the doctors as soon as I get home to get some antibiotics.” I could not help comment "I do not like such medicine I believe in more natural methods." She looked at me with intrigue and raised eyebrows.

I continued to explain how swallowing hard rather than coughing could help stop feeling the need to cough. Because every time you cough a message gets sent to the brain to create more saliva which in turn causes us to cough. She chuckled and laid her head back on the headrest.

The short flight was soon over - 75 minutes in total - and we were instructed to remove our seat belts. I realised I'd not heard her cough more than twice since we spoke. So I commented on this and she looked round at me with a smile saying, "It worked I haven't felt the need to cough anymore.” I was so pleased to be assured that natural methods can work so quickly and well!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Guidance and Support

The YOU & ME Yoga system of sound colour and Whole-Body-Movement is a very effective yoga system for persons with learning disabilities. Evidence shows that staff and parents can practice this regularly together for mutual benefit and progress.

To acquire further yoga knowledge, skills and confidence to teach this clientele Maria Gunstone welcomes you to address your learning needs and send her your questions for guidance and support.

Training and teaching materials readily available:  http://www.youandmeyoga.com/overview/

Monday, 20 January 2014

My Son has Down's Syndrome


I met Professor Thomas, who was wearing a vivid yellow bow tie. Out of the blue He mentioned, "Life is very different these days." I enquired if He was referring to the IT evolution. "Not just IT, it's everything. Life as it is now isn't any better or worse, it's just so different." 

I courageously announced that I am digitalising my books for IT platforms and He asked, "Are you an author too, have you written more than five books like me?" I replied "I have written seven books on the subject of Yoga for disabled people." He revealed his recent book was on the History of Radiography. "Not as appealing as Yoga", he added. He then further explained his personal interest was because he had a 29 years old son with Down's Syndrome.

I casually commented about there's not so many Down's syndrome babies being born these days. When instantly He raged about the expulsion of them before birth is outrageous and such an appalling lose to humanity!

In earnest I replied, "Down's syndrome people are the nicest people I know. For they have the natural human qualities of inspiring, endearing affection.  Furthermore, they take to Yoga like 'ducks to water' with their flexible bodies and ability to be 'in the present moment' more so than most of us." The professor nodded and grinned in agreement.

This conversation inspired me to write about Down's Syndrome and Yoga.

The hallmark of people born with Down's syndrome is that they have: characteristic facial appearances,  hyper-mobile joints,  a variety of associated medical conditions, some degree of intellectual disability and variable self-care skills.

Up to the last decade or so, this condition occurred in every 700 births, more often in boys than girls. Most of the people with Down's syndrome I know are good-natured with a good sense of rhythm, however some do have a stubborn personality.



Congenital heart disease is present in approximately half born with Down's syndrome. In which case, care is needed with techniques requiring lying on the back and must be avoided in severe cases.

Down's syndrome people respond very well to Yoga. Because they are good mimics and can copy the yoga movements quite well with their flexible joints. 

Their supple mobility is not a problem, but there is a need to be aware of possible atlanto-axial instability (misalignment between the first two vertebrae of the neck, just below the skull) hence care is needed to limit extending the neck. 

People with Down's syndrome often have tight heel cords. Yoga movements that stretch the heel cords are very beneficial to people with Down's syndrome. They tend to have weakness, especially in the abdomen with poor core-stability, and limited strength in the shoulders and the hips, as well as the ankles. 

Usually they have poor isolation of movement, which is more to do with their awareness of limbs. If you instruct them to move the leg, they can copy you, but if you say 'move the leg', it's the understanding of where the leg is, and to isolate that movement, that is their difficulty. Terms such as 'back', 'other side', 'turn round' are difficult concepts for people with Down's syndrome to understand. 

The practice of YOU & ME Yoga Postures will definitely help improve their understanding and improve their performance of the movements in quite a short time. As well as help strengthen their muscles and control of the joints. Needless to say, the most important aspects to teach people with Down's syndrome are: body awareness, spatial awareness, coordination and breath control. 

Here is a young man performing his Ostrich, Twist and Lotus Postures.


  • The Ostrich helps with progression towards achieving full arm extension. Using a chair to support bending forward assists balance and promotes confidence. 
  • The Twist Posture is excellent for improving awareness of 'behind'.
  • Usually the Lotus Posture is quite easy for persons with Down's syndrome to do, because of their loose hips. The aim for this posture is to sit up straight while focusing on breathing. When sitting back to back with a teacher or a peer the feeling of the breath can be experienced in the partner's back.

Excerpted from the YOU & ME Yoga Modular Programme.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Introduction to YOU & ME Yoga – DVD


Fabiola Wiseman recently joined the YOU & ME Yoga Modular Training Programme. On her very first day of home study she watched the 24-minute Introduction to YOU & ME Yoga – DVD, completed and submitted her first assignment explaining what the film meant to her. She was pleased to allow me to include it in full as follows: 

While watching the Introduction to YOU & ME Yoga - DVD, I noticed firstly how my enthusiasm for starting the YOU & ME Yoga Course increased, and that I have, no doubt, chosen the correct course. I think this was due to the fact that there were marked benefits and improvements in all aspects for the students – proving that the YOU & ME Yoga system works!

The fact that the colour system is so simple and yet so effective, struck me
immediately. I am beginning to understand how the students can identify the
colours with the different body parts and how that in turn allows them to
identify which part of the body is being strengthened. Allowing the students to match the cards with the body parts and then move their bodies into shapes on the mat, really encourages them to take part individually and as part of the group, and begin to follow precise instructions. Allowing students to describe how they feel also gives them greater awareness of body and mind and confidence in their practice. The 20 postures are such that every one allows for variations to suit the individual student, which is absolutely essential due to all the clients having differing abilities and challenges.


The wonderful use of sound was very interesting too, as this feels so natural, for example when breathing out, saying ‘Ah’. This, and the use of words, pictures and song to help people of all ages and abilities enjoy the benefits of yoga, is marvellous.

I think the thing that struck me most was the clear and proven benefits that the YOU & ME Yoga system continues to provide for people. This is to do with the fact that every posture can be modified to fit individual physical needs, but the modifications are also possible on an emotional and mental level, so that every person can have a version of yoga that improves their life.

As a teacher it is crucial that I can assess a student and modify sequences according to what they can do, what they need to improve on and what will be most beneficial to them. The fact that students found the YOU & ME Yoga enjoyable, relaxing, gained more muscle control, are more responsive and observant in their activities; and in general appear to be healthier is the perfect incentive for me to succeed in the course.
Fabiola Wiseman, YOU & ME Yoga Module 1.1

Extracts from 'Introduction to YOU & ME Yoga' - DVD

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Starting to Teach Special Needs Yoga


You can contact me for yoga teaching tips and guidance for working with individuals or mixed abilities groups with learning difficulties/disabilities, right across the age range.

Maria Gunstone is now offering private training and online supported learning.