Shawnee Thornton Hardy - Autism, Neurodiversity and Yoga

Episode 88

58 mins

Shawnee Thornton Hardy - Autism, Neurodiversity and Yoga

September 20, 2020

Shawnee Thornton Hardy is a Certified Yoga Therapist, Educational/Behavior Consultant and the author of Asanas for Autism and Special Needs. Shawnee specialises in working with neurodiverse children and adults and we were pretty excited to speak with her on this topic - It’s just one of the aspects of yoga we have started to learn more about.

In this episode, we learn what neurodiversity means and what drew Shawnee to working with neurodiverse children and adults. We discuss the ways Shawnee structures her classes to accommodate diverse needs and how her techniques can be useful in all yoga classes.

One of the things we learned was how much in common Shawnee's approach had with the trauma-informed approach to yoga. This lead to a conversation about what yoga really is.


CALMM Yoga toolkit:!product-page/p0o2r/8fe8f05f-951e-1563-b917-88adf8284543
Shawnee's Book:

Thrive Northside:

This episode is sponsored by Yoga Australia:

The opinions expressed in this podcast do not reflect the view and opinions of the sponsor.


Click on a timecode to play from that time in the recording.

2:41 Shawnee talks about her background growing up in the mountains of Montana.
3:34 Was yoga a part of her upbringing?
5:20 What drew Shawnee to working with neurodiverse children?
8:08 What does neurodiversity mean?
11:48 What does Shawnee share in her classes, and how do her students find it helpful?
15:58 How does Shawnee instruct the class to cater to a wide variety of sensory experiences?
17:38 Is cultivating self-love and acceptance a big part of Shawnee’s classes?
20:06 How what makes us unique can be the source of strength as well as struggle in our lives.
21:54 Navigating behavioural challenges and setting up for success.
25:59 How has awareness around autism and neurodiversity evolved.
27:40 Person first language - not everyone prefers it.
30:26 Support us on Patreon
31:28 Love on the Spectrum
32:45 How learning life skills through yoga as a child can help people through their whole lives.
34:52 Is raising awareness of yoga as a tool to help people with autism a part of Shawnee’s work?
37:36 Shawnee’s work training teachers and creating foundations.
41:16 How does Shawnee bring in self-regulation and life management skills when she is so busy?
44:05 How has Shawnee’s teaching life changed since the advent of COVID-19?
50:12 Our responsibility as yoga teachers to help everyone who shows up.
51:30 Was it a challenge for Shawnee to create the written resources?
54:33 What is Shawnee’s one core lesson for the world?
57:34 Our next episode - Daisy Bossy Baddy!

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