Posted by Jon Federman

yogaStarting a fitness program can be a difficult and daunting endeavor. With the demands of work, family, and the challenges of everyday life, a fitness routine can sometimes find its way to the end of a to-do list, despite one's best intentions.

For people with developmental disabilities, fitting physician-recommended exercise and movement into one's day becomes even more demanding. Participants in CHAI Works Day Programming at JF&CS spend their weekdays at the JF&CS Headquarters in Waltham and their evenings at home with their families – with little time left for exercise and few if any fitness resources.

In 2008, Margaux A. Skalecki, a certified yoga instructor, came up with an innovative idea: an adaptive yoga class for CHAI Works Day Program participants. What makes this class unique is that each member has a turn to become the teacher – each one comes up to the front of the class and chooses an "asana" (a posture) for everyone to follow. "Students become leaders; they also get a taste of varying yoga postures and are encouraged to learn them the best way they can. "One of our favorites is a star pose in which everyone has to balance on one foot," added Skalecki.

"Yoga helps the participant to focus. I am a stickler for body alignment, yet depending on who is trying out the posture, if the student gets it his or her way without possibility of injury, then its fine with me," Skalecki explained. "Learning the names of the postures guides the students into new maps of what the body can learn to do."

Judging from the smiles on the faces of all of the participants, CHAI Works adaptive yoga has become another positive addition to our many offerings here at JF&CS.

To learn more about CHAI Works yoga, please contact Sue Stellick at 781-647-JFCS (5327) or Margaux Skalecki at

Jon FedermanJon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.