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Special Olympics World Games Offers Yoga Classes & Natural Healing to Athletes

We’ve been celebrating and watching the games all week long. The Special Olympics World Games kicked off in Los Angeles this year on Saturday, July 25th bringing together over 6,500 athletes from around the world.

For the very first time ever, Special Olympic Coordinators offer up some nontraditional services to the athletes. Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman discusses more about the decision to include yoga, along with a selection of other types of natural healing / alternative medicine being made available to the participants.

Why yoga, why now? “It’s not surprising that yoga is having is having its moment at the Games now,” says Sara Ivanhoe, who will teach yoga throughout the Games along with Mia Togo, Kia Miller, and Vytas Baskauskas. “We just celebrated the first International Day of Yoga. “This is again another huge first for yoga — what an extraordinary thing to be a part of.” It doesn’t hurt that First Lady Michelle Obama is a huge yoga fan and is appointed honorary chair of the Games this year.


The Special Olympics committee is offering up half hour yoga classes to all the athletes, as well as acupuncture, Oriental medicine, wellness services, and Tai Chi classes.

On a practical level, having yoga at the Games offers athletes another approach to balance their mind, body, and energy in order to maximize their performance, says Miller.

“A lot of us are living in the intellect, sometimes a little too much. [An intellectual disability] can keep you in this really open heart space with a capacity to love so big,” adds Togo.

We definitely find ourselves to be caught up in story or in our heads, so we certainly agree with Togo! Be sure to stay tuned to ESPN to catch the conclusion of the Special Olympics World Games on August 2.

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