Here is how Yoga benefits children with special needs
Breath: Breathing is an expansive part of yoga. Many children with special needs experience difficulties breathing due to structural impairments or physiological compromises. Their resting posture does not allow optimal oxygen intake and these children also tend to hold their breath. Training a deeper and sustained breathing cycle during yoga poses can break through previous patterns that have become a physiological habit. In yoga the child experiences natural rhythm of inhalation and exhalation.
Body awareness: Movements of yoga make the child more aware of his body and directionality.
Motor Planning: Hand postures (Mudras) stimulate gross and fine motor planning skills. Through repeated explanation of each detail within a pose and the sequencing of poses a child begins to plan his motor movements.
Spirit of Communication: Yoga naturally facilitates communication skills of gesture, vocal and verbal production. Pre-verbal children have the opportunity to imitate yoga postures (asanas), hand gestures (mudras), and vocal productions (mantras). Simple chant (mantra) can produce vowel-consonant and consonant-vowel sounds.
Behavioral: Yoga can produce the ability to self regulate. Breath is the main area of self regulation as the child learns to breathe more slowly and deeply. Symptoms of anxiety, lack of concentration, lack of motivation, lack of body control, confusion, etc., can all be positively affected by a yoga practice.
Social Skills: In yoga, the ability to take turns, listen, observe body space, and initiate kindness are aspects of a group yoga class which encourages social interaction.
Sensory integration: Yoga provides proprioceptive and vestibular inputs.
Restorative: As yoga oxygenates the body, it strengthens respiration and deeper breathing, relaxing the body and mind.
Sleep patterns: Yoga improves the sleep patterns of children where the children develop ability to sleep independently and for longer periods of time. This improvement in sleep supports improved function in all areas of the child’s life.