In addition to benefits typically associated with yoga like improved strength and flexibility in the muscles, and an increasing sense of peace and wellbeing, autistic children can also experience a decrease in anxiety, pain and self-stimulatory activities.
As children with autism have very different sensory experiences from other children, these responses often cause their bodies to get stuck in fight or flight mode, or other freeze and anxious modes that divert blood away from the digestive organs to the skeletal muscles. This can also increase the heart rate and cause shallower breathing, all of which readily provoke anxiety.
Here are 4 yoga poses that you can practice with children with austism. Yoga can help to ease transitions, increase self-regulation through the practice of relaxation and calm and energise their bodies,
SMELLING FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN
Sit down comfortably in an easy cross legged position with your hands resting on your knees. Inhale draw the shoulders up by the ears, and take a deep breath as you smell flowers in the garden. Exhale, let the shoulders drop down and say haaah or huuuh. Inhale again, smell the flowers, lift your shoulders up. Exhale with a haaah or huuuh. Practice this a few times.
BREEZE TO TWISTER
From our first pose, change the crossing in your legs. Stretch your arms out to the sides of the room and slowly start to swing your arms back and forth to create a gentle soft breeze. Then move your arms faster swinging them from side to side creating a stronger wind, like a twister and then slow down again to a soft breeze. Start picking up speed again, swinging the arms to a twister and then slow down again to a gentle breeze. Practice this a few times moving from slow to fast.
Sit with your feet out in front of you, bring the soles of the feet together (or easy cross legged as above)
Take your hands out in front of you and shake them slowly. Stretch your hands up to the sky and shake them and then let your hands fly low and high, side to side, up and down, over and back. When you are ready take your hands to your knees.
FLOATING ON A CLOUD
Lie down on your back, stretch your arms and legs out. Take a few deep breaths, inhale, 1,2,3,4, exhale 1,2,3,4.
If you don’t enjoy lying on your back you might find it soothing to curl up in a ball or in childs pose ( knees wide, hips resting back on feet, arms stretched forward, head resting) Now pretend to be floating like a cloud in the bright blue sky. Feel the cloud rising, float into the sunny sky…. Drifting on the cloud. Breathe in 1,2,3,4 Breathe out 1,2,3,4 Imagine the green grass below, gently blowing in the wind. Continue floating on a cloud, drifting, rising.
Wiggle your fingers and toes, feeling your body wake up. Stretch your arms and legs out.