Yoga For All Kids

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More parents are turning to yoga as an additional avenue for their children's health and wellness. So, what are the main benefits of yoga for kids? I believe yoga benefits us in many common areas, uniquely. Karen Fabian, founder of Bare Bones Yoga, talks about these main eight points in an article from Mind Body Green regarding the benefits of yoga for children:

  • "Develops body awareness
  • Learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way
  • Manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement
  • Builds concentration
  • Increases their confidence and positive self-image
  • Feel part of a healthy, non-competitive group
  • Have an alternative to tuning out through constant attachment to electronic devices"

Benefits of Yoga for Kids with Neurodiversities

As accessibility for yoga increases for kids, we have to think about access to yoga for kids with neurodiversities and what that looks like. Are they inclusive, general, specific to kids with neurodiversities, goal-based, social or playful, and on-and-on. All of these options have their own benefits. In the time I've created and implemented Spectrum Yoga, which implements a variety of the above considerations, these four benefits stick out most:

  1. Anxiety | As we know, kids with autism can experience anxiety more often and at higher intensities than kids without autism. Developing a healthy relationship with anxiety along with owning a variety of tools to manage anxiety is incredibly empowering and transfers into life (school, job, relationships, etc.).
  2. Awareness and Regulation | Yoga is a powerful tool for learning about ourselves in every sense: feelings, emotions, thoughts, body, actions, etc. and from this awareness, we can implement tools for preferential regulation. There are many yoga tools for regulation including breathing techniques, mindfulness activities, positive affirmations, and poses. Of course self-regulation is a larger topic than I can get into in this post and many factors play a role in our ability to regulate. Nutrition, overall health, sleep, and many other factors influence our ability to manage ourselves. Yoga therapy techniques can support this journey towards awareness and regulation. And, when paired with effective interventions like specific and specialized chiropractic and nutrition and diet changes, they are even more powerful and transformational.
  3. Empowerment | Working with others in a team of two or groups, accomplishing a challenging game, feeling in control, using tools outside of yoga class, developing friendships, and feeling progression towards a personal goal over time is so good for self-image and confidence. These alone can have an intense impact on a child's wellbeing especially when it is the first time she/he has felt this.
  4. Processing Input (sensory and information) | With technology all around us (not that that’s a bad thing entirely!), lots of therapy appointments, and all the other information kids are taking in day-after-day, yoga is a powerful outlet to release and let go. So much input is coming in constantly, it’s important we have times of stillness, or space from input. Restorative classes in particular, like Sensory Wind Down, are very beneficial for this. Having a calm, peaceful space to just chill, allows the nervous system an opportunity for processing, restoration, and reflection.

Spectrum Yoga: Access to Yoga & Doing it Differently

Spectrum Yoga is rooted in therapeutic yoga (utilizing Integrative Yoga Therapy curriculum) and adapted to be accessible for kids with neurodiversities. We believe in creating classes that form to the students (a foundation of yoga therapy) versus having the students form to the class.

It is wise to plan. It is useless to have a plan.
— Unknown, Yoga Teacher

We are all different day-to-day, even minute-to-minute so to have a rigid, planned class students must form to is often counterproductive, especially for those with neurodiversities. And for those who struggle with this, the structure and nature of typical yoga classes for kids can cause anxiety and frustration.

There is no right or wrong way of going about implementing yoga as long as it is done safely. It's important you are aware of your child's yoga instructor's training and if he/she is knowledgable in specific health considerations (specifically respiratory and cardiac illnesses as well as joint instability). Yoga has endless benefits and as access to yoga increases, parents begin to have choices for what's best for their child, and that is really cool.


Blog Post By: Christine Devereaux, Founder of Spectrum Yoga.

Christine Devereaux