YOGA FOR CHILDREN OF ALL ABILITIES

YOGA FOR
CHILDREN OF
ALL ABILITIES
Tips for Parents and Teachers
what is
YOGA
Yoga is recognized as a “mind-body” therapy
by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine of the National Institutes of Health as well as the World
Health Organization. Mind body therapies focus on the relationships between the brain, behavior, health and disease. Yoga, an
ancient science, means “union” and was developed In India over
5,000 years ago
Practicing both asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing) exercises help create a balance between the mind and body. Classic
yoga poses can be representative of animals and objects in the
environment, and children naturally
imitate what they see
1
around them . Hundreds
of yoga poses
stimulate imagination
and enhance
physical and neurological skills.
Studies have demonstrated improvement
in children’s verbal and spatial memory and motor
performance following yoga practice in both healthy
children and those with developmental disabilities.
W
they are required to follow directions and learn new
to anxious learners. Yet classroom learning is difficult without these
constraints. There are few opportunities in the curriculum to train
students in self control and focusing the mind. Yoga provides the
control and development of
gross motor skills
the ability to transition
from one activity to another
self awareness, self
discipline and self esteem
skills. Children are expected to succeed. Sitting still,
paying attention, and staying on task are not skills that come easily
sensory processing and enhances a
sense of personal space
hen children enter school, they transition from self
directed play to being in a structured classroom where
Why Should
Yoga improves:
Children
Do
Yoga?
While practicing yoga postures and
breathing control, the child learns to
be aware of breathing, movement and
focus on the moment. Over time, yoga
practice results in:
increased strength
stamina
flexibility
balance
relaxation
concentration
communication and
relationship skills
inner harmony
opportunity to maintain a balance among intellectual performance,
imagination and play2.
Successful yoga programs with children include games and designated departures from quiet and stillness to allow students to
release pent-up energy and concentrate more intensely afterwards.
They do not focus on perfect performance, but alignment and safety
are continually addressed. Each child is allowed to make mistakes
and learn from them with assistance from a certified, sensitive instructor providing props and/or modifications to poses.
Yoga is practiced in a non-competitive setting that supports children of all abilities. Heidi Feldman, pediatrician, Ph.D. and certified
yoga instructor at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, states that “inclusion education benefits children with developmental disorders
as well as children developing typically [who become] role models, particularly in terms of communication, behavioral regulation
and social skills [and] learn to practice compassion and appreciate
the diversity of the human experience3.”
Yoga has been studied and recommended
as a complementary and alternative medical intervention to
address the following and other conditions:
Headaches
Constipation
Stroke
Low Back Pain
Autism & ADD/ADHD
Asthma & other
pulmonary dysfunctions
Cancer
Cerebral Palsy
Cardiovascular &
cardiopulmonary disease
Diabetes Type 2
Down Syndrome
End Stage Renal Disease
Anxiety & Depression
Hypotonia
References
1. Vilchez-Blatt, S., Hester-Smith, A., Phillips, JC. Karma Kids
Yoga Teacher Training Course Manual; Karma Kids Yoga, LLC 2008.
Karma Kids Yoga, 104 West 14th Street, NY, NY.
2. Goldberg, L., Creative Relaxation: A Yoga-Based Program for
Regular and Exceptional Student Education. International Journal
of Yoga Therapy 2004; No.14: 68-77.
3. Feldman, H., Teaching Yoga to School-Aged Children: Principles
and Personal Experiences. International Journal of Yoga Therapy
2005: No.15: 87-95.
Galantino, ML, Galbavy, R, Quinn, L. Therapeutic Effects of Yoga for
children: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Pediatric Physical
Therapy 2008;20: 66-80
Luby, Thia. Children’s Book of Yoga, Games and Exercises Mimic
Plants and Animals.1998 Clear Light Publishers, Santa Fe, NM.
Prussing, E., Sobo, EJ, Walker, E., Dennis, K. Communicating with
Pediatricians about Complementary/ Alternative Medicine: Perspectives From Parents of Children With Down Syndrome. Ambulatory Pediatrics 2004; Vol.4: 488-494.
Brown, KA, Patel, DR. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in
Developmental Disabilities. Indian Journal of Pediatrics Nov. 2005;
Vol.72 (11):940-52.
Wahbeh, H., Elsas, SM., Oken, B. Mind-Body Interventions, Applications in Neurology. Neurology 2008; Vol.70: 2321-2328.
http://www.ncpad.org/videos/fact_sheet.php?sheet=347&view=all
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