Sonia Sumar began teaching Yoga for children with special needs after her daughter Roberta was born with Down Syndrome in 1972. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by mental retardation and other developmental delays. Sonia noticed many positive changes in Roberta from using Yoga therapy, so in 1975 she became a Certified Yoga Teacher. At that time, she dreamed of visiting India to find a living Guru to help her deepen her Sadhana, her spiritual practice. However, she was unable to afford it. Her favorite Yoga teacher was Sri Swami Sivananda. Much of his work was already available in Brazil where she lived, so Sonia followed his teachings through his books.
Sonia's life dream is to help the world's special children achieve their full potential and become active and productive members of society. Nothing can better express her success than the letters she receives from the parents of her students.
Sonia holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and has taught at elementary school level. She has conducted workshops and addressed special education programs and symposia in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and India. In 1980, she founded the Integral Yoga Center of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, now headed by her daughter Renata. In 2001, Sonia opened the U.S. Headquarters of Yoga for the Special Child, Satchidananda Yoga Center, in Evanston, Illinois. She currently resides in Florida. Sonia continues teaching children and adults and offers her specialized training courses to Yoga teachers and other professionals worldwide.
Her book Yoga for the Special Child has been published in English, Portuguese, and Chinese. Spanish translation will soon be available. The eBook will soon be available in English.
Sonia is a recognized member of: Yoga Alliance E-RYT, E-RCYT; IYTA - Integral Yoga Teachers Association; and IAYT -- International Association of Yoga Therapists.
RENATA SUMAR GAERTNER
Renata started to practice Yoga with her mother, Sonia Sumar, at three years of age. While still a child, Renata participated in many Yoga courses and conventions with her mother. At twelve years, she completed her first Hatha Yoga Teacher's Training Program through Brazil's Federal University at Minas Gerais (UFMG). And, at fifteen years old, she began her teaching career in Hatha Yoga.
In 1989, Renata advanced her teaching skills by completing the Teacher's Training Program for Yoga for the Special Child. In 1990 Sri Swami Satchidananda, the great teacher and founder of Hatha Yoga Integral, visited Sonia Sumar's Yoga Center in Brazil and this visit caused Renata to begin following a new path. By the end of 1991 Renata went to Satchidananda Ashram in VA. In 1994 she received her university diploma in Speech Therapy. Her thesis, "Yoga as a Method of Global Stimulation for Children with Down Syndrome", describes her original research which indicates Yoga is an effective method for stimulating the development of children with Down Syndrome.
In 1995 Renata returned to Satchidananda Ashram where she spent seven months under the guidance of Sri Gurudev. During that time Renata participated in courses and attended many lectures, constantly trying to increase her knowledge about Yoga. Renata also assisted her mother by helping to teach her annual courses of Yoga for the Special Child at the ashram and in New York City.
Renata is the Director of the Integral Yoga Center in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and a member of the Integral Yoga Teachers Association, Yoga Alliance, where she is a E-RYT at the 500 hour level and E-RCYT.
She moved to Sarasota, FL in October of 2007 with her family. She is now working with Sonia and still running the Yoga Center in Brazil with 2 partners and she goes with her family once a year in order to teach programs and workshops.
Kathy Randolph began her personal yoga practice in 1969 and started her study of Integral Yoga with her teacher Lisa Dalberg in 1990. After reading “Yoga for the Special Child” and with Lisa’s encouragement, Kathy began her training with Sonia Sumar in her first Basic Certification Program in 1999. In 1999 Kathy also co-founded The Yoga Center in Reno, Nevada, created to facilitate Yoga for the Special Child. She completed all advanced courses and was certified as a Hatha Yoga Teacher in 2004. Kathy continues her training with Sonia in further Basic and Advanced Yoga for the Special Child courses.
In 2002 Kathy began to apply the techniques of Yoga for the Special Child to scleroderma, which she presents at Scleroderma Foundation conferences around the U.S. In 2003 the Texas Bluebonnet Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation made a grant to produce “Yoga for Scleroderma” in video and DVD, distributed by the Scleroderma Foundation. In 2004 Kathy presented her research paper “Yoga for Scleroderma” as part of her certification qualifications. In 2010 the Texas Bluebonnet Chapter and the Scleroderma Foundation each made generous grants to produce “Assisted Yoga for Scleroderma”, a 2 DVD set, distributed by the Scleroderma Foundation.
Sherry began studying with Sonia Sumar in 2003 and was so inspired by Sonia’s work that she completed the curriculum as quickly as possible and graduated in 2005. Since then Sherry has followed Sonia all over the world to study at least once a year, always learning something new and striving to distill the essence of Sonia’s teachings. She continues to be inspired by the subtle and sometimes profound transformations that occur with special children and adults who take Yoga for the Special Child classes regularly and by participants in the Basic One Programs that she teaches.
Sherry is a former modern dancer who has been teaching movement awareness and a comprehensive method of stretching, strengthening and aligning the body for 35 years. She studied kundalini yoga with Sat Dharam Kaur, ND and became a certified kundalini yoga teacher in 1999.
In 2000 Sherry founded Yoga 4 Kids/yogi dreams™ and began to specialize in teaching yoga to children and teens of all ages. She also teaches professional development workshops designed for adults on how to teach yoga & meditation to children that qualify as Yoga Alliance certificate courses. She is an E-RYT 500 and RCYT with Yoga Alliance and a certified Intermediate Integral Hatha Yoga & Integral Hatha Meditation Teacher. She received her intermediate training at the Satchidananda Ashram in Virginia. Sherry has a HBSc. in Physical Anthropology from the University of Toronto, Canada and studied one year of Eurhythmics at the Toronto Conservatory of Music.
Sherry’s passion for movement lead her to create an instructional DVD in 2010 that demonstrates the actions to the rhymes, songs and mantras that are an integral part of her yoga classes for children. Singing and chanting encourage language development, develop a child’s rhythm and melody, enhance concentration and memory. A recent Stanford University study(1) found that hand and expressive arm movements influence cognitive processing, fluid thinking and increase creativity.
1. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2012 American Psychological Assn. Fluid Movement & Creativity by Michael L. Slepian & Nalani Ambady