Yoga offers significant benefits to people of all ages, including children. All children can benefit physically and emotionally from the practice of yoga. Children with special needs gain specific benefits from yoga exercises.
Yoga can benefit children with a wide range of disabilities. Whether there is a physical issue that requires exercise to improve flexibility, muscle strength, joint health or other physical benefit or an emotional issue, such as hyperactivity or inability to focus, yoga therapy may offer a natural treatment option.
Yoga helps to calm the body and mind in people of all ages. Children with ADHD, kids who are easily distracted or display other types of hyperactive behavior can benefit from the calm and focus yoga brings to daily life. In addition, yoga helps to improve concentration and focus and this benefits all children, as well as adults.
Kids with certain developmental disorders can experience rigid muscle tone and tension in the body. Stretching the muscles helps to improve flexibility in the muscles and strength. When practiced regularly, first with a yoga therapist and later at home with a parent, there is improved muscle tone and greater flexibility.
Learning to relax the body helps to calm the nervous system, which benefits a wide range of disorders and disabilities. This calming effect is best enjoyed with asanas combined with breathing and relaxation exercises.
If you have a child with special needs and are interested in yoga therapy, the first step is to find a qualified yoga therapist. Ideally, you want to find someone with training and experience dealing with children, as well as the disorder or condition that your child has, in order to get the best treatment and advice possible.
The yoga therapist will evaluate your child, work with the child and make recommendations for the parents to continue treatment at home between sessions with the therapist. As the therapy continues, the asanas, breathing and relaxation exercises will be adapted to meet the changing needs of your child.
There are a few ways to find a yoga therapist. You can check with your pediatrician or other professional that provides services for your child. If you know other parents that have tried yoga therapy, they can be an excellent source for a recommendation. The International Association of Yoga Therapists has a listing on their website at iayt.org.