Most of us know that yoga is a great form of exercise that can be performed by people of all ages, including the older adults and children. It helps to prevent or reduce your risk of various diseases while improving overall health and well-being. But did you know that yoga can assist children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurological and developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour?
According to a recent study, the prevalence of ASD in India is 23 children in 10,000. But this is relatively much lower compared to the recent report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 59 children in the US, reporting a 15% increase from their last report.
Autism can occur in all ethnic, racial, and economic groups. ASD can be detected at any age – it can sometimes be diagnosed at 18 months or younger. Autism is called a ‘spectrum’ disorder because people with ASD can experience a wide range of symptoms. Children with this disorder face developmental and emotional challenges. But the stigma associated with the condition creates a barrier for people to seek help or even talk about it.
Autistic Pride Day, observed on June 18 each year, aims to raise public awareness about ASD, while also reminding that autistic people are unique individuals who should not be seen as cases for treatment. On this day, individuals living with it speak for themselves and celebrate the unique way that autism affects each of them.
Autism is a lifelong disorder and there is currently no specific standard treatment for ASD, although treatments and services, including therapy, can help improve a person’s symptoms and ability to function.
While there are limited studies on effects of yoga on children with ASD, researchers have found that yoga can be of significant benefit to children with autism. Yoga can help children with reduced anxiety, increased focus and concentration, improved social connectedness and body awareness as well as a positive sense of self. In addition to this, a reduction in impulsive, obsessive, aggressive and self-stimulatory behaviours have also been noted.
Here are five yoga poses that are good for autistic kids:
Vrikshasana or Tree pose is a wonderful pose that develops concentration and improves balance while strengthening the ankles, calves, and thighs.
Warrior pose or Virabhadrasana helps increase focus, balance and improve concentration. It stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders, neck, belly and groin.
Simha Pranayama or Lion’s Breath stretches the muscles in your face, relieves tension and tightness while improving circulation. It will also help to ease the mind and boost confidence.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands. It strengthens the arms and legs as well. This pose helps to calm the brain and relieve stress.
Cat/Cow yoga pose or Marjaryasana/Bitilasana is one of the poses that gently massages the internal organs and spine. It increases the flexibility of the neck and shoulder.
Note: While yoga is suitable for people of all age groups, it is best to do under the guidance of an expert or a certified trainer. Moreover, the content, including the suggestions, is purely informative in nature and should not be construed as professional medical advice.