Why Special Needs Children Need Yoga
Yoga is growing as both a physical fitness and overall wellbeing discipline. Over 24 million adults in the US practice Yoga regularly and the benefits of that practice can be readily shared with young people.
That’s especially true of young people with special needs.
Yoga’s goal is to create balance between our minds and bodies. Why special needs children need Yoga is to provide them with a means to encounter their bodies more fully.
Yoga can be the basis of building physical self-awareness in special needs children which can impact their psychological and emotional health enormously. This can form the basis for better self-monitoring and control, as they move into adulthood.
Yoga is proving to be especially helpful for children with autism spectrum disorder, reducing their aggression, anxiety, self-stimulatory behaviors and obsessions. Motor skills are also enhanced with Yoga, as the movements involved are slow and deliberate.
Finding a Yoga group specifically designed to help children with special needs will also help your special needs child connect with other children, thus developing more well-rounded social skills.
We hope you find this article helpful, if you’ve been thinking about how Yoga might be beneficial to your child.
Slow and steady
Special needs children often find group settings intimidating. You can get them started by arranging private instruction, allowing them to ease into the discipline at their own rate and with only one other person (the instructor) to relate to.
Once your child is comfortable with one-on-one instruction, they can be introduced to group sessions. For the most part, Yoga environments are peaceful, without the threat of noisy distractions throwing special needs children off course.
Yoga is also an ideal environment for special needs children due to the soothing music usually accompanying sessions.
Some children may resist but don’t lose hope if yours does. Positive reinforcement can help but you may also want to participate in sessions with your child or join in while your child is practicing at home.
Your knowledge of your child is the best tool in your toolbox to encourage involvement in Yoga, so seek out the motivation that’s going to bring the excitement about the activity. And once “Yoga fever” takes hold, you won’t be able to put a lid on it.
Creating the right curriculum for your child
For our money, Hatha Yoga is your best bet. Extremely safe, this form of Yoga uses no physical force in the poses employed. Instead, students are taught how to slowly move toward goals using the weight of their own bodies and gravity.
That said, any Yoga tradition you try requires customization to the needs of children with special needs. That means you need to seek out an instructor who has training and experience working with children who need extra help.
Talk to prospective instructors about your child’s specific disabilities and the needs associated with them. This will provide a window into how to communicate and interact with them as Yoga students.
The element of fun
On some level, Yoga needs to be fun for your child to participate in. It should never be a source of anxiety. Choosing your instructor is key. Find one who understands what special needs kids need to be fully engaged with their Yoga experiences. “Fun” may include games and other means of holding the interest of children who need a little more stimulation to make the connection stick.
Your patience and flexibility are at the heart of your special needs child’s Yoga experience. Ensuring that your child is comfortable, willing and even excited is up to you. Take the attitude of giving your kid an adventure into something new.
Yoga is proving to be a wonderful support for special needs children, with physical, emotional and psychological benefits that help them cope with a sometimes frustrating and bewildering life.
Fun Factory Sensory Gym
The Fun Factory Sensory Gym is a customized environment appealing to children with ASD and other conditions which demand specialized activities.
Yoga, as we’ve said above, has emerged as a proven support for children with these developmental challenges. It’s one we hope your child will embrace and grow from.
Contact us to discuss our sensory environments and how they bring the smiles to special needs children.