Monday, June 13, 2011

Namaste Monday: Yoga for the Special Population

See, I promised Namaste Monday would be back this week!
Mondays were {are} a little hectic, but I'm writing this in the morning so that it does get done!

A while ago, I talked about how I taught a yoga class for children with disabilities.  As most of you know, I wrote my Senior Thesis this year on Yoga for children with Down Syndrome, Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy.  I learned a lot during all of the research I had to do, and I thought I'd share some of the facts with you.

Why am I doing this? Because I believe that yoga is for everybody.  It doesn't matter who you are, how healthy you are, or how old you are.  Yoga has such positive benefits that it has the potential to change your life.

Between my research, my discussions with other yoga teachers, and my learnings from teaching my own class, I have come up with key reasons why yoga is great for children with disabilities.  But not only that: we all have problems, children with disabilities just have more of them.  But all of these things that I'm sharing can relate to us and reasons why we should do yoga has well.

1. Yoga develops focus.
Children with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome tend to have trouble focusing and staying patient.  Breathing exercises especially can help a child learn to stay focus.  Also, balancing postures such as Tree Pose help to build focus.  When you teach someone the correct way to breath (inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose) you help them regulate the behavior, which can help them in both academic and social situations.

2. Yoga helps children build friendships.
Often a child with a disability, specifically one such as Autism, can have trouble making friends because they don't feel like they fit in.  By putting a child into a yoga class, they have the opportunity to make friends because their confidence and self esteem is being heightened.  Furthermore, by teaching these children breathing exercises, they are less likely to act out in stressful situations, making it easier for them to make friends.

3.  Yoga helps improve health
Children with disabilities suffer from a variety of health problems.  Children with Autism will often have trouble sleeping, but poses such as Child's Pose help to regulate sleep, which can curb obesity and help a child in school.  Bridge pose helps to stimulate the thyroid glad, which is important for a child with Down Syndrome as they may suffer from thyroid problems.  They may also suffer from hypertension or heat defects, so breathing exercises are great because they reduce hypertension and are safe for a child with a heart defect.  Yoga helps promote flexion and extension.  It also builds muscle strength, and upper body strength is especially important for a child who is wheelchair bound, such as one with Cerebral Palsy.

In my research, I interviewed parents and teachers who were somehow involved with a child with one or more of the four disabilities discussed.  They all agreed that yoga therapy is a great form of therapy for a child with a disability.  One teacher specifically commented that she thought yoga therapy was so great because it was a total body experience.  It's not just focusing on a specific muscle group- it's focusing on everything, including the mind.  If you've ever done yoga, you know what I'm taking about.

These are just a few of the points that I found when writing my paper.  I can't say everything here, since it's 110 pages long, but I figured these are key points to make.
But see how it can relate to everyone?  We all need help with focusing and health.  Having trouble sleeping?  Try child's pose!

Still not convinced?  I know a lot about this topic, so feel free to ask me a question!! xo

No comments:

Post a Comment

i'd love for you to say hi! i normally try to reply to your comment here! xo