yoga for autism

Yoga for Autism

According to the first rigorous assessment of the country’s autism prevalence, roughly 23 of every 10,000 children in India have autism.

Parents, teachers, and educators are faced with many challenges on how to support children with Autism Disorder. Most common difficulties are with communication, expressive & sensory integration and social/emotional deficits. Children with Autism can exhibit a broad range of symptoms including heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

Yoga is fast becoming a supplemental therapy to give holistic support to children with autism. Many benefits are associated with Yoga. Asanas help to increase balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength. Pranayama helps in better breathing and calming the senses. Yogic relaxation techniques help children in reducing impulsive, obsessive, anxiety and over-stimulatory actions and behaviors.

  1. Improved Social-Communication Skills – Various studies were done at the Institute indicated that yoga might offer much-needed respite from Autism symptoms. When practicing yoga asana with breathing strategies, children learn by imitating the actions and behaviors of the yoga teacher. This benefits the children’s ability to sustain joint attention for longer. Visualization, guided meditation, and repetition of vocabulary using visual aids and yoga games play a big part in the development of language and vocabulary skills.
  2. Awareness and Expression of Emotions – Practicing yoga brings more awareness about controlling their own facial expressions, actions and social skills. It brings about a state of calm and awareness. Breathing exercises or pranayamas help autistic children to release uncomfortable emotions like frustration, fear, anxiety, etc. in a very constructive manner.
  3. Yoga Reduces Anxiety – Many children with Autism experience heightened levels of anxiety and disturbed sleep. Sleep and health are directly related- yoga pranayamas like Anulom-Viloma and abdominal breathing help to ensure sound sleep. The practice of mindful breathing and guided meditation and yoga poses help to calm the nervous system and support these children in developing coping and self-regulation skills.
  4. Awareness and Positivity – Yoga brings about holistic development and personality changes. It adds to the self-image of the child & builds his/her confidence and self-esteem. Withstanding poses or balancing poses when successful create a sense of positive achievement. As a yoga teacher, this is a rewarding stage to witness. Not to mention the child emotions and happiness.

Householder Yoga, a unique offering of the Institute, can be easily incorporated into a child’s daily routine at home and school.  It is important to encourage children to engage in yoga breathing and stretches when they become distressed, agitated or experience anxiety. For autistic children, modified yoga poses and breathing exercises along with the play-way methods, yoga games and music is very effective.

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