Yoga for Children With Special Needs
From a young age, yoga can help boost a child’s confidence, along with building concentration, flexibility and strength. Practicing yoga offers benefits for all children, including those who have physical, emotional, learning, and other disabilities.
Yoga helps children experience a sense of individual accomplishment, feel connected to others and learn skills that can help them calm themselves when feeling stressed. For children with special needs, yoga breathing and poses can be modified to match individual abilities, to offer the greatest benefits for body and mind. Here’s how children of all abilities can benefit from yoga:
- Developing self-awareness and self-soothing through breathing. The practice of conscious breathing (prana) can help children release tension, clear their minds and feel calm. Breathing in slowly for the count of five — then releasing the breath for the count of five — is a tool that children can use themselves, and help them feel more in control of their emotions.
- Developing flexibility, strength and coordination. Yoga stretches and poses can address muscle rigidity and tension, to help children develop greater flexibility. It also helps children develop a greater awareness of their bodies and the space that they occupy in the world. Meeting children where they are in development when practicing yoga can help them experience improvement and feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Developing sensory focus. As yoga uses many of the senses, it helps children with sensory processing. It can include slow (or no) movement, calming music, smooth mats, and dim lights, all of which help children to become aware of their feelings and movements, and channel their energy in a focused way. Sensory experience can help children feel relaxed and better able to concentrate.
- Developing connections to others. Though yoga is an individual practice that can be adapted to any level of ability or skill, it is also a way to connect with others. Practicing yoga in a small group setting can help children connect to others and to their environment, which can help them to feel less isolated.
- Developing confidence. Through repetition, the practice of yoga can help children build upon skills — and recognize their accomplishments. Consistent, gentle practice can help children build confidence in their own efforts and abilities.
To learn more about yoga classes for children with special needs, call your local, family-friendly yoga studio. Or, try some fun poses at home today!