by Emily Mancini | For one Bay Shore native, yoga has not only become a source of personal healing and wellness, but a way of reaching out to an underserved community.
24-year-old yoga instructor Brian Aubin is no stranger to the struggles faced by individuals on the autism spectrum. At age 17, Aubin was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He struggled with anxiety, depression, and substance abuse throughout his teens and early twenties.
Now, he says, he’s at the best place he’s ever been in his life.
Yoga and meditation helped Aubin cope with his autism and addiction, and in the process, ignited his passion for helping others on the spectrum. He began developing his practice in 2013, at Sayville Hot Yoga. Drawn to the both the health benefits and the calming, meditative aspects of the practice, Aubin began attending classes and retreats across the island. In 2014, he attended his first training for hot yoga. Soon after, he earned his 200-hour Yoga Alliance Hatha certification.
“Yoga helped me find my spirituality and become more health-conscious,” he says. “It’s for everyone, and it’s not just for fitness like you see on Instagram or television. Anybody who struggles with autism, mental health issues, or substance misuse can extremely benefit from yoga. They can use it to relax and as a way to cope with the daily stresses of the world.”
After experiencing the benefits of yoga first-hand, Aubin began searching for ways to use his knowledge to improve the lives of others in the autism community.
In 2016, he completed the Samahdi Spectrum, a two-part training that provides yogic techniques and teachings needed to instruct individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He is also certified in yoga for 12-step recovery and Reiki, a Japanese technique for relaxation and stress reduction.
“I’ve had aides come up and tell me that they’ve never seen their students sit so still for so long,” Aubin says about the classes he’s taught to individuals with ASD. “It calms their minds down, so they’re able to relax and stop stimming behavior. I even had one student fall asleep during Reiki!”
Starting Oct. 12, Aubin will be teaching a Yoga for Autism and Special Needs class for teens and adults every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Pixie Dust in downtown Bay Shore. Though the class is tailored for those with special needs, all are welcome and encouraged to participate. Pricing is $15 per class.
“All of our programs are special needs-friendly and judgment free,” said Raquel Noriega, owner of Pixie Dust. “As a parent with a child on the spectrum, I understand how hard it is to find an accommodating venue. That’s why we’re here, so the community can utilize this space and people like Brian. He’s a wonderful instructor, he understands what his students need.”
In addition to his teaching, Aubin is an active advocate for the autism community.He is a member of Ashrams for Autism, a nonprofit organization that creates yoga programs and facilities for individuals with ASD, and Kula for Karma, a nonprofit that offers programs to underserved populations who face physical and mental health challenges.
He is also leading a campaign on Indiegogo selling autism awareness T-shirts made by Spectrum Designs, a nonprofit that supports the employment of individuals with autism. Aubin will donate half of the proceeds to Suffolk Asperger’s/Autism Support and Information (SASI).
Photo: Certified yoga instructor and Bay shore native Brian Aubin. (courtesy)