The ancient art of Yoga is essential for the physical and emotional well-being of not just adults, but that of children as well. It can be used as an alternative therapy to special needs children in order to increase concentration, flexibility and strength. Not all children with special needs can participate in yoga due to their physical condition but if they can, it is worth a try. Here are some important benefits of yoga for children with autism, ADHD and other special needs:
- Helps develop motor skills
Children with special needs often experience delayed motor development and lack age appropriate motor skills. Yoga can help tone muscles, enhance balance and stability, and develop body awareness and coordination. Once their motor skills develop, special needs children experience a greater sense of their physical self and improve their gait and stability.
- Improves confidence and social skills
Uncoordinated movements can lead to low self-esteem in children with emotional disabilities. Yoga can teach self-control and self-calming techniques that may help them grow in confidence. It also helps them refine their social skills while interacting with other children.
- Leads to sensory integration
Children with autism have a highly sensitive nervous system. Bright lights, new textures, loud noises, strong tastes and smells can over stimulate these children. Yoga can create a comforting environment which helps special needs children to calm down and enjoy the asanas. The physical nature of yoga allows nervous energy to release from the body in a controlled manner and manages behavior.
- Coping techniques for parents as well as kids
Yoga can help a special needs child with breathing techniques. These techniques in yoga can help teach special needs children how to self-calm themselves. At home, kids can share flashcards of the day’s asanas with their parents to make them aware when they’re getting anxious. It helps both parents and kids in sharing a meaningful home activity.
- Engages the emotional brain
Yoga is a combination of movement, music, breathing and story telling that helps activate the brain’s emotions. It encourages children to be in tune with their emotions as well as that of others. Yoga can help them understand emotions better and maintain their focus in class, as well as at home.
Although yoga has many benefits for children with special needs, it is important to consult with a medical professional regarding your child’s health and ability, before you begin any exercise.