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Inner Child's Barbie Burton Melds Yoga, OT, Social Emotional Learning



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Newtown resident Barbara "Barbie" Burton, MS OTR/L, RYT, has seen a lot of young people over the two decades she has worked in pediatric occupational therapy benefit from occasional or one-time yoga sessions.Inner Child Yoga, located at 97 South Main Street - just down and behind Sal e Pepe restaurant.Finding StillnessComplementary Strategiessend an e-mail or follow Inner Child Yoga on Facebook and Instagram.

At the same time, as a yogi, she knew there was nowhere around the area for children to go and fully absorb the calming and centering effects that yoga that can bring to the often hypersensitized and fast-paced world of a child, adolescent or teen.

So she combined the best of both worlds to create

Today, children as young as 3 and into their advanced teens can come to Ms Burton's well-equipped studio to participate in large, small or one-on-one sessions. At the same time, her visitors and students experience Ms Burton's individualized application of yoga, OT and social emotional learning.

Working side-by-side with colleague Jessica Lippi-Tuz, MS ABA, RYT, the two are developing a number of programs to roll out in the coming months, including "Mommy & Me" sessions for mothers and newborns to toddlers; a Buddha Bootcamp; programs for youth sports teams; Inner Child birthday parties; even private sessions for youths suffering from anxiety, ADHD, ASD or those with other special needs.

"When we take on children in the one-on-one sessions, the ultimate goal is eventually moving them into a larger group," Ms Burton said. "At the same time we equip them with strategies they can use at home or in school to become centered or to decompress from momentary stressors."

Ms Burton said the beautiful thing about using yoga as a vehicle to incorporate other aspects of OT and social emotional learning is that it can be done in as small a space as a child's bedroom.

"This is not your mom's yoga class," she said. "We understand with some of these children - especially the young ones - that just learning how to sit still can be a challenge."

Learning how to find stillness in the fast-paced world of a child has myriad benefits, Ms Burton has found. And while most of her classes have some formal structure, she is also aware that on any given day the energy of her students can become a guiding factor in how she handles the group.

"We try to keep it flexible based on the attitudes and energy that walks in the door that day," she said.

As she and Ms Lippi-Tuz gear up for a full-time class and session schedule in the fall, there is still time for some unique or individualized classes for anyone interested in trying out Ms Burton's special techniques.

"We have limited hours until July, and then will start our buildup to fall," she said. "So right now, we can design a class around any four or more kids."

Her colleague Ms Lippi-Tuz brings to the studio nearly seven years experience as a sensory motor program aid at a private school in the region. She has also worked incorporating a whole body/brain-based approach to her students with special needs through therapeutic swimming with the Angelfish aquatics program.

One of the best things about her unique brand of children's yoga, Ms Burton said, is that moment when she sees they "get it."

"It's incredible to witness that a-ha moment when what they are doing clicks," she observed. "At that point they usually start to realize how the techniques they are learning can help them outside the studio. When they are anxious, angry or stressed, they learn that their brain is not working and they can tap into the techniques they learn to get quiet.

"It amazing when they finish, you can see the calm in their eyes and they're saying 'wow' and they want to come back," she added. "The sensory strategies we teach them makes them feel better, and it's a great tool to have for when they get upset. These are strategies that can help them for the rest of their lives."

Ms Burton said she likes to think of Inner Child Yoga as incorporating "yoga strategies for OT and OT strategies for yoga."

In addition to her services as a yoga instructor, OT, and now the owner/operator of Inner Child Yoga, Ms Burton is also on the faculty of Stretch What Matters Yoga for Children with Special Needs. Her talent as a yoga instructor, and knowledge of the central nervous system, sensory processing strategies, and the body/brain connection, allow her to provide an extraordinary yoga experience for children of all ages and abilities.

Ms Lippi-Tuz has been working in the field of sensory processing disorders for six years while completing her degrees. In 2011, she received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and in 2016 received her master's in applied behavior analysis (ABA), both from Western Connecticut State University.

She specializes in implementing sensory motor programming and pediatric yoga and has completed her 200-hour yoga certification for children with special needs.

With her level of education and experience, Ms Lippi-Tuz is able to teach children self-regulation skills through sensory diet, applying behavioral techniques and follow-through with sensory motor programs including vestibular protocols, postural exercises, MNRI reflex integration and iLs.

For more information about Inner Child Yoga, or to discuss customized or one-on-one sessions,

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Inner Child Yoga is open in the rear of Sal e Pepe Restaurant at 97 South Main Street. Yogi and pediatric occupational therapist Barbara "Barbie" K. Burton MS OTR/L, RYT, at right, and Jessica Lippi-Tuz, MS ABA, RYT, offer a variety of yoga classes for children to foster relaxation and mindfulness; physical, mental and emotional strength and endurance; coordination and body awareness. (Bee photo, Voket)
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