Do you know someone who suffers from autism? The disorder is less about the cause and more about the symptoms. Autistic children struggle to handle their bodies and their immediate environment. Fortunately, yoga can assist the children with their symptoms.
Interested to know more about yoga and autism? Have a look.
Autism is a part of the spectrum of developmental disorders that first appear in children below three years of age. As they grow, the children exhibit complex neurological abnormalities. They find it extremely difficult to communicate, concentrate and interact socially (1).
Autistic children exhibit repetitive, stereotypical patterns of behavior. They do not understand facial expressions, tone of voice, are self-abusive, and may not even respond to their names. Language skills are developed gradually, or sometimes they don’t develop at all, which isolates the children from the rest. Any deviation from routine will lead to an aggressive tantrum as they vehemently resist change. The world is challenging on its own. But inside the world of an autistic child, the challenges are beyond comprehension.
For this reason, these children need to feel connected and understood. Their uniqueness sets them apart from the rest. To make them a part of our environment, yoga is a holistic, peaceful solution. It has helped many children cope with their symptoms, allowing them to be a part of the community (2).
[ Read: Baba Ramdev Yoga Asanas For Asthma ]
Yoga For Autism:
Through its application of pleasant music, deep breathing and relaxing postures, yoga has a long-term positive effect on children with autism. A yoga teacher establishes a bond first and later uses stories to describe each pose, possibly with dance included. One has to connect to their level to enter their world. Once the child begins to trust the teacher, she/he begins to enjoy learning yoga.
Yoga’s consistent method of practice strengthens the child’s trust. It blends in with their need for a routine. Regular yoga, in turn, develops their motor skills, social skills, confidence levels, and self-awareness (3). Yoga’s relaxed breathing coupled with controlled movements further develops their emotions, enabling better control over nervous reactions. The calming environment of a yoga session removes irritable stimuli such as loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, etc. This helps their sensitive nervous system, thereby leading to fewer outbursts (4).
Let us now see what yoga poses work well for autistic children.
1. Tree Pose:
Tree pose develops concentration and improves balance. It also strengthens the ankles, calves, and thighs.
- Stand straight in a mountain pose.
- Extend the arms away from your body on both the sides.
- Bend your right knee and place the right foot on your left thigh.
- Turn your face upwards and look towards the sky.
- Hold the position for a few breaths and repeat on the other side.
2. Warrior Pose:
A warrior pose strengthens the core, increases balance and focus. It stretches the various muscles in the chest, shoulders and legs, relieving any pain. It helps improve self-confidence as well.
- Stand on the floor with feet placed wide apart.
- Turn to the right twisting your right foot outwards.
- Now, bend at the knees. Your left foot is also turned inwards.
- Raise your arms and hold them straight across at shoulder length.
- Keep the back erect and breathe for 2 minutes.
- Repeat on the other side.
[ Read: Yoga Poses To Increase Your Stamina ]
3. Ragdoll Pose:
Ragdoll pose is an effective pose in yoga for children with autism.
- This pose calms the mind and relieves stress.
- Stand with your legs placed together.
- Raise your arms and slowly bend at your waist.
- Let your arms fall to the floor while the knees are kept relaxed.
- As you breathe deeply, let the arms sink further.
- In a few moments raise back.
4. Cat Cow Pose:
The cat cow pose gently massages the internal organs and spine. It also stretches the neck.
- Start by kneeling on the floor on your hands and knees.
- Keep the hands right below the shoulders and the knees below the hips.
- While inhaling, let your belly fall towards the floor like a cow. Look up and moo.
- Now, on exhaling, arch your back towards the ceiling like a cat. Look down and meow.
- Repeat as often as you want.
5. Lion’s Breath:
This pose is used to relieve tension. It represents the feeling of letting out all negative thoughts. With the lion’s roar, a child is playfully made to release unwanted emotions.
[ Read: Yoga Asanas To Stimulate Nervous System ]
- Kneel down on the ground and cross the ankles behind you.
- Place your hands on the knees and press the palms against the thighs.
- Here, spread your fingers, imitating the sharp claws of a lion.
- Inhale deeply, open the mouth wide and bring the tongue out to touch your chin.
- As you exhale, make a ‘ha’ sound like a roar. Open the eyes as wide as possible.
- Roar 2 or 3 times for effect.
So, these are some of the poses the child would certainly enjoy while learning. There are many more. Hope you found the post useful. Have you ever tried yoga for autism? Do write to us with your comments in the box provided below.
Disclaimer: Any information or image on this site is to be used as a reference resource. Please do not depend on it for diagnosis or treatment.
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