Since Yoga is so multifaceted, it has amazing potential as an effective therapy for children and youth with special needs
A path to true potential, health and happiness
Yoga is a system of mental and physical practices that began over 3,000 years ago in India. Its emphasis is to help each one of us attain our highest potential and experience true health and happiness.
My special yoga mentor
Sonia Sumar created Yoga for the Special Child® by working with the Hatha yoga model. Hatha yoga starts by working the body on a structural level. In respect to the special child, Sonia’s program helps to increase flexibility, strengthen tendons and muscles, as well as align the vertebrae. In addition, internal organs are toned and massaged, the body rids itself of toxins, and the brain cells are nourished and stimulated. As a result, these children experience greater mental clarity, emotional stability, and a sense of overall well- being.
Multiple benefits to mind and body
As Yoga is so multifaceted, it has amazing potential as an effective therapy. This is why for children with Down syndrome, Cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities, practicing Yoga can greatly help in the mastering of basic motor, communicative, and cognitive skills. In respect to children with learning disabilities, this same Yoga practice helps develop greater concentration, balance, confidence, and body awareness. With proper instruction and routine practice, each child benefits on some level.
Breath and Speech
Chanting the mantras helps with breath and speech work. Each mantra has a certain rhythmic vibration and sequence that helps with speech patterns.
Low muscle tone
For infants and children with low muscle tone, Yoga for the Special Child® focuses on exercises that specifically target and strengthen the muscles of the neck, arms, feet, legs, and abdomen, as well as the joints in the shoulders and hips. Also, leg and arm lifts, and movement that flexes the shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and joints of the feet.
High muscle tone
For infants and children with high muscle tone, Yoga for the Special Child® uses techniques to elongate the muscles and tendons in order to relieve areas of tightness. For children with Cerebral palsy, one of the many benefits of practicing these poses is a deep relaxation of the muscles, and an overall quieting of the central nervous system.
Benefits of Yoga for the child with Cerebral palsy:
- A decrease in muscle tone in the areas of tightness
- Increase in joint flexibility. Specifically, hamstrings and hip adductor-internal rotator muscles
- Increase in attention/Decrease in distractibility
- Improvement in breathing patterns. Slower and deeper breaths
- Increased body awareness
- Mastery of basic motor, communicative, and cognitive skills
Benefits of Yoga for the child with Down syndrome:
- Develops concentration, balance, and motor coordination
- Helps develop good posture and muscle tone
- Mastery of basic motor skills
- Improves communicative and cognitive skills
- Develops greater body awareness
Benefits of Yoga for the child with Autism, ADD/ADHD, and other learning disabilities:
- Chanting mantras help speech patterning
- Increased body awareness
- Breathing exercises and deep relaxation help to both reduce hyperactivity as well as improve concentration
- A quieting of the nervous system
- Deep relaxation assimilates all benefits of the poses
- Develops both balance as well as a calm in their daily lives
- Develops strength, flexibility, and muscle tone