Yoga for Autism and Special Needs
Yoga poses, deep relaxation and breathing can help reduce the high muscle tone that is characteristic of most children with a physical disability as well as help children with intellectual disabilities to release pent up anger and frustrations.
Children with disabilities often experience muscular problems which can lead to a lack of sleep, among other issues.
Yoga poses are designed to enhance the natural development of children with special needs and gives the muscles and tendons a relaxing stretch, releasing overall stress and tightness throughout the muscle structure and around the joints.
Yoga is about connecting the mind, body and soul and by these three aspects working together, balance and alignment is brought to our human nature. Conventional methods have always treated the body or the mind, whereas, alternative methods like yoga treat all three elements. Without addressing the spirit nature of a child they can never be complete therefore the mind, body and soul connection is imperative to children with special needs.
Yoga is an effective therapy that aides children with disabilities in developing greater concentration, cognitive and motor skills as well as reducing hyperactivity. Breathing and exercises eliminates excess phlegm and strengthens the respiratory system. By doing diaphragmatic and belly breathing, the digestive system is improved and constipation is relieved.
Some other benefits of yoga include:
• Easing stiff joints and tight and tone muscles
• Muscle atrophy (wasting) caused by forced inactivity can be delayed
• Promotes relaxation, physically and psychologically
• The body’s metabolism improves
• Improves the quality of your child’s everyday life
• Allows a normal pattern of movement to resume
• A great sense of well-being and renewed sense of confidence within your child can be produced
Benefits of Yoga for Kids with Autism:
1. Yoga develops motor skills. Kids with autism frequently experience delayed motor development, which can be improved as yoga tones muscles, enhances balance and stability, and develops body awareness and coordination. As motor skills develop, children have a greater sense of their physical self in space and in relation to others, and can improve their gait and stability. This leads to…
2. Yoga improves confidence and social skills. Poor coordination often yields low self-esteem as kids may be singled out or teased for not moving or behaving like other children, or not excelling in sports and outdoor activities. By learning self-control and self-calming techniques through yoga, they are likely to grow confidence in interacting with other children and refine their social skills. Learning to work together in a yoga class and playing with partner poses can also increase confidence within group settings.
3. Yoga provides sensory integration. Children with autism often suffer from a highly sensitive nervous system and are easily over stimulated by bright lights, new textures, loud noises, strong tastes and smells. Yoga’s natural setting of dim lights, soft music, smooth mats, and “inside” voices creates a comforting environment largely protected from unknown or aggressive stimuli in which calming down becomes enjoyable. Yoga’s physical poses allow nervous energy to be released from the body in a controlled manner, also leading to a calming sensation. Less stimulation means less uncontrollable behavior, outbursts and repetitive nervous movements – which is further enhanced by…
4. Yoga provides coping techniques to both kids and parents. Whether teaching the child breathing techniques for self-calming, talking the class through a guided visualization the child can use when getting anxious, or sharing flashcards of the day’s poses with parents to use at home, yoga provides an awesome toolbox to parents and siblings. It is a transportable practice that both parents and kids can draw from for a lifetime and share a meaningful home activity.
5. Yoga facilitates self-awareness. Yoga is particularly instrumental in helping kids with autism learn self-regulation. By becoming aware of their bodies and aware of their breathing, yoga provides them with the ability to cope when they start to feel anxious or upset. Yoga poses or breathing techniques specifically intended to help children contend with their escalating emotions.
6. Yoga engages the emotional brain. We all know that yoga is far from purely physical, and this combination of movement, music, breath work and story telling activates the brain’s emotional region. This encourages children to develop awareness of their emotions and those of others, as well as keeps their attention in the class. Music is another powerful tool that the yoga instructor can share with parents to use at home to recreate the environment of a yoga class. - See more at: http://www.yogafitness.ie/yoga-for-special-needs-teens.html#sthash.Fx94CcnA.dpuf
Yoga Fitness Blog
I am Claudia Gutierrez, owner of Yoga Fitness, originally from Argentina and proudly Irish Citizen since 2012.