Yoga for Special Kids

Will special kids able to do Yoga ? Special kids with learning and developmental disabilities. My thoughts were yoga will help these children to cultivate a sense of awareness of their own bodies, mental and emotional states. This awareness can help special needs children to navigate the daily challenges in their lives. Yoga is also helpful in elevating self-confidence, as children set and conquer physical goals for themselves through the yoga postures. Breathing work and meditation help to still the active minds of children and give them something to focus their energy on.

My daughter has a special holidays attachment in MINDS (School for down syndrome children). She was describing their Physical Education session and how interesting it is that the children will follow each other to get into the stretching exercise of heads, arms and legs. There is no concentration but just a bunch of gigglings. It is not that challenging as if all children ran all over the place without control. The teachers must be afraid of the injuries, thus the Physical Education session is not that intensive. They are quite disciplined and it is just that they have a lower IQ and slower learning abilities. This spikes the idea that if I have a simple flow of Yoga asana, the kids can then have a complete body workout in a proper flow in their routine.

The other group of kids are from Pathlight School for Autism Children.. I personally got in contact with these kids for a voluntary corporate event. I was told that this group of kids are the most misunderstood due to their behavior. Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.

Some observations of how the teachers handle the kid which Yoga breathing and asana can be handy.

Repetitive Instructions
Teachers have been repeating on certain actions, words, instructions in their daily routine. The purpose is to allow the children to have a basis surviving skill set and ability look after themselves. Over time, these set of instructions become part of the routine of the children. Asanas flow and breathing technique is a set of repetitive actions that can be taught and implant into their daily routine.

Calm down
Children were instructed to counting to 10 when they are irritated. Counting to 10 slow down their anxiety and distress. This can be replaced with deep breathing, which should be more beneficial as it calms the mind and relax as well.

Meditation
Some of these kids are susceptible to noise. Helping them to focus on non-distressing things with soothing meditation music with a quiet moment will ease tension and stress from the child and parent.

More Awareness
When the child does Yoga, they are in one spot and move little. So their attention should be focusing on getting from one posture to another. This helps to improve concentration on completing a pose. The space within their yoga mat will be their “personal” space where no one else can intrude and they will learn not to intrude into other’s personal space as well. This make them more aware of their own bodies, behavior and people around them.

I am sure there are a lot more benefits of Yoga for special kids. As I embark my yoga learning journey, I will continue to pursue in this area and be a volunteer at some point to help these kids to lead a better quality life.