While anxiety is natural, yoga and breathing techniques can help kids with autism handle the pressures associated with peers, studies and making the grade. In practice, asanas may be difficult to perform for children with autism.This may be due to their inattentiveness, hyperactivity, inability to sit at one place and follow sequences of complex commands. However, some children with autism have exceptional imitation abilities. Try these few yoga tools with your kids to handle stress and anxiety.
Diaphragmatic breathing in through the nose, helps to both calm and center, says Susan Verde, www.susanverda.com, certified yoga and mindfulness teacher.When anxiety strikes and our sympathetic nervous system is activated to fight, flee or freeze, focusing on the breath can help bring the system back into a place of calm.
Place your hands on your belly, take long slow inhales and feel the breath fill up like a balloon, then slowly let the belly “deflate” on the exhale. Your child can even count or say a mantra as she breathes in and out such as “I am calm.” This practice can carry over to anytime when your child feels anxious or overwhelmed.
“Sitting in Child’s Pose not only stretches the back and shoulders but gives a child a sense of shelter and self-care,” Verde says. “Sometimes when the world is too chaotic and the emotions too heavy sitting in Child’s Pose can feel protective and comforting.”
Starting on hands and knees, sit back on your heels resting your forehead on the ground with arms outstretched or alongside the body. Close your eyes and notice a sense of relaxation and comfort.
Practicing Tree Pose creates a sense of grounding and expansion. When children feel anxious and often ‘out of their bodies’ Tree helps to reestablish that presence in the body; the feeling of the ground beneath their feet. This pose is great practice connecting to the earth while reaching for the sky. The balance required in this pose also builds confidence and focus. Tree Pose can be very empowering for kids.”
Have your child begin in Mountain Pose with their feet hip-distance apart. Ask them to feel the connection to the earth. Putting their weight in one foot and bend the other leg at the knee, placing the heel on either the ankle or upper thigh of the standing leg. Press the standing thigh against the foot bringing energy to the midline.
With a clear and calm mind, Downward-Facing Dog reenergizes the body, which is great to practice when your kid needs a little more energy to help him/her get through those long.
Start on hands and knees with knees two fists apart, directly below the hips and hands planted below the shoulders with fingers stretched out and pointing toward the top of the mat. Take a big breath in and tuck your toes under. As you slowly breathe out, begin to lift the knees off of the mat and your bottom toward the ceiling. Keep your head down and relax your neck.
Yoga can be easily incorporated into a child’s day in the home, school or program setting to support self-regulation, increase communication and expression of difficult emotions and reduce anxiety and frustration. Practicing yoga with the child will not only support them in feeling more calm and relaxed but can also support the adult working with the child in feeling more calm, the outcome being, a positive and relaxing experience for both the adult and the child. The following asanas may be beneficial.
Benefits Of Parvatasana
- It reduces mental fatigue while improving the memory and concentration by improving the blood circulation in the brain.
- It strengthens the weak muscles of the body and thus prevents any injury.
- It reduces muscle pain, especially in back and neck regions.
- It also helps in stimulating the synthesis of growth hormone and thus helps in gaining height naturally.
Benefits of Yastikasana (stick pose)
- It can be performed for pain management in the body.
- It can be also used to increase height of growing children.
- It provides adequate stretch to the spine.