Children with special needs may not be able to participate in a conventional yoga class and may need one-on-one attention.
Yoga as a therapy provides a much needed holistic and emotional approach to children.
Yoga supports motivation, confidence, and self-esteem, often lacking in children with challenges and affecting their ability to participate and progress.
The yoga postures assist in relieving and managing symptoms of their conditions and improve overall function, health, and wellbeing.
This form of yoga can help to change the relationship to, and identification with, the child’s challenges.
The Benefits of Yoga as a therapeutic intervention for children with challenges.
Yoga for children with challenges provides them with a safe space to be themselves and grow their confidence as well as attune with their inner being. It forms a gentle, creative space in which we can teach self-love and non-judgement. It is a place for children to fall into their heart space and move out of ego (where they often feel judged, different and that they don’t fit it). It is here that they can learn to love themselves, as a whole being, despite their challenges.
Therapeutic yoga offers a multi-sensory approach to the whole child, allowing them to develop themselves physically, emotionally, spiritually, energetically, socially, and mentally. It is ideal for visual learners, i.e. those with Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder, as the teacher’s body is used as a visual tool.
Research has shown that yoga programs can positively impact on maladaptive behaviours and thereby improve classroom functioning and learning. It is shown to improve attention and concentration, impulse control, strength and motor coordination as well as improve social skills. The benefits of yoga also include reducing anxiety, managing stress, and improving resilience in children.
Yoga will have a different impact depending on the specific needs of the child. This may range from improving posture and breathing, to developing body awareness and self-esteem. Individualised benefits are discussed in further detail in later sections.
Yoga offers these magnificent yet different children to move from victims of circumstance to masters of their own destiny by accessing their all-powerful and mighty inner warrior. This yoga class teaches into the spirit of the child no matter their challenge. They learn to access their higher self which is perfect, abundant and holds unlimited and untapped potential.
The practice of yoga, which includes asana, mindfulness, heartfulness, breathing, meditation and savasana, are as follows: