Peer teaching in yoga practices

Peer teaching in yoga practices


Theotokos Foundation

Target Group    

Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability and/or Psychiatric Disorders
16 – 35 years


Needs driven: The benefits of yoga practices are nowadays scientifically proven. This yoga peer teaching program not only brings yoga to the spotlight of Special Education, but also creates material for peer teaching yoga for the very first time. Its purpose is to empower the individual, to unlock his potential, to develop self-management, to cultivate knowledge and skills to act as a yoga instructor assistant. A new educational field is explored and a new method is used, capable of transferring skills to other areas as well. This program responds to the need our students have expressed for new stimuli to motivate them to take on roles and responsibilities, consistent with their adulthood.

Systematic Approach: The target is to enable the candidate instructor (with or without help) to guide a yoga class, initially to his classmates. Three trainees are participating in this program since October 2018.

A systematic approach with the following steps was followed:

-        Creation and use of a basic qualification checklist in order to select the candidates.

-        Creation of a job description, a professional profile and a task-analysis of individual procedures. Creation of procedures to support the education (e.g. presentation sheet, observation sheet), visual material for self-learning (e.g. parts of the body), self-evaluation forms, forms for outcome measures and a training instructor’s evaluation questionnaire with ICF criteria.

-        Training in use of session plans using cards with instructions (see attached file)

-        Utilization of the trainees’ feedback for adjustments in material.

Stakeholders’ involvement: The practice is centred on the user. Each yoga instructor trainee has their own folder, containing the practices that they can best use in order to guide a class with success, with specially designed instructions in easy-to-read/understand. Participants are involved to the degree they can and desire without pressure or disapproval.

Many people contributed to this program. We consulted certified yoga instructors from Yoga Alliance (USA) & Yoga Alliance Professionals (UK) for the program structure. We received valuable help from Theotokos’ Speech Therapists (MAKATON symbols), colleagues from our Supported Employment Service (materials creation) and trainees from the Graphic Arts Labs (instructions illustration).

Parts of the material (exercises for relaxation, breathing and games) were uploaded to our foundation’s electronic library, were used by some trainers in their teams who later gave us their valuable feedback for adjustments. Finally, a professional photographer and his model, voluntarily offered us their services.

Direct Impact: An increase in self-confidence, sociability, motivation and enthusiasm has been observed in the 3 yoga instructor trainees. The peers welcomed their classmates as instructors and responded well to their guidance. 
Strategic / Wider impact: From the beginning, the trainee peer teachers functioned as instructors better than we expected. We realized how important it is for the professionals to step back, trust and create opportunities for the trainees to reveal their potential.
The yoga instructor trainee, having acquired the necessary knowledge and skills, initially addressed to his classmates, could later, quite easily, guide a session in other institutions or high schools, during their visits, thereby enhancing the collaboration between them and revoking prejudices. They could also guide yoga classes at other services they attend, such as summer-camps and afternoon activity centers, and later, professionally, in yoga studios addressing the general population.
The program can definitely be transferred to other institutions of special or mainstream education, as well. In the future, we intent to lead an Erasmus program so that we can share good practices.

Practicality: It is a low budget program, so it is easy to implement. The equipment required and the human resources usually already exist in our centers.

Inventiveness / Creativity: In this program, participants are encouraged to explore the functions of their body and are trained to learn how to acquire physical, emotional and mental balance on their own, in an absolutely natural way.  They acquire a positive attitude to life, which hasn’t been reinforced in this target group, till now.
The creativity of the participants will be cultivated with their involvement in the construction of additional material. The current material will be the basis and it will be enriched with new exercises, where they themselves will be the models and the photographers, with new games that they will propose and with their own creative visions, which will be integrated into the relaxation exercises.


Staff and Resources 



Tsiafoulis S. ( photographer) ),  Psillia A. (model)

Arsenopoulos V.,  Dimitriou F., Katsouda A., Karamani A., Kotretsou C., Kritikou  S., Meravoglou P.,   Sifaki N

September 2018 – on-going project

100% Theotokos

Contact /more information

Name:     Sofia Kritikou                           

Email address:

Other details:  Psychologist, Special Education Trainer

Name:   Foteini Dimitriou

Email address:

Other details:  Yoga instructor