Yoga Treatment can help with Autism

Most autistic children are more familiar with being told to sit still than to take tree pose. But due to a new yoga-based treatment called Integrated Movement Therapy (IMT), 35 kids in the Seattle, Washington, area have dramatically improved their balance and sociability as well as their communication and problem-solving skills-results that are often not easily attained through conventional therapies. When touch or movement are combined with verbal exercises, kids generally experienced more spontaneous speech and improved mood.

How yoga classes might be structured to benefit children

Therapy blending speech-language exercises, self-esteem building, self-calming practices, and yoga postures might address the characteristics associated with autism disorders. Although autism is a complex condition that can vary from child to child, there are a few common threads.  By merging the principles of yoga with conventional behavioral, mental, and verbal therapies, IMT encourages a child’s physical, emotional, and social growth. yoga_kids

The classes range from formal pranayama or asana practice to simple game playing. For example, a class of 5- to 7-year-olds might begin with breathwork and then move into a game of Red Rover, in which each child runs to the front of the room to perform his or her assigned yoga pose when called. By learning that self-calming techniques can be an adjunct to activity, autistic children discover that being asked to quiet down doesn’t always have to be punitive.

Older students learn coping skills through performing through yoga stories. The game begins with each student picking a handful of cards printed with specific poses. One at a time, each student must tell a story using his or her cards while performing the poses for the group. Probably the most remarkable changes have been in terms of social interaction and how the children feel about themselves. If you have have a child with autism who has experienced a yoga class then we would love to hear your story.

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