Yoga Therapy for Children with Disabilities


What is Yoga?
Yoga is a science-based spiritual discipline focused on creating harmony between mind and body. In rehabilitation with yoga techniques; balanced yoga poses (asanas) combined to increase body awareness and strength, special breathing (chanting) exercises that improve focus and concentration, improving vocal and speaking skills, eye exercises and relaxation techniques, breathing techniques that strengthen the lungs and allow the whole body to receive oxygen are used.

What are the General Benefits of Yoga for Children?
Rehabilitation with yoga techniques for children is a set of movements consisting of individual and paired exercises, in which classical yoga postures are transformed into appropriate standards for children, combined with fun, discipline, self-confidence and sense of responsibility.

Yoga aims to teach children to use their imaginations with postures, to breathe properly and how to relax their bodies.
Yoga poses (asanas) can help any child with indigestion problems, sleep disorders, stress problems, balance and coordination problems, sensory processing problems or joint and muscle problems. Using their imagination improves their learning skills and enables them to direct their energies in the right direction. However, it can help strengthen muscles, increase focus and creativity, and strengthen the immune system.
Rehabilitation with yoga techniques for children includes breathing exercises, games and stories as well as entertaining yoga postures. The inclusion of games and stories also increases the child’s self-confidence, positive thinking and easier expression of emotions.

The aim of these studies is to balance the body, mind and spirit harmony, as in adult yoga, and to help the child to continue living with this balance.

For Which Disabled Children Is Yoga Beneficial?
Yoga can be applied to children with emotional and behavioral disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy (CP), dyslexia, microcephaly, autism spectrum disorder. It is equally safe and effective as children, even in infants.

What are the Benefits of Yoga for Children with Down Syndrome?
Yoga poses (asanas) help children with Down syndrome stretch their bodies, increase muscle tone and strengthen them. Asanas benefit internal organs and help balance and rejuvenate the endocrine glands.
Children with Down syndrome who practice yoga are weaker and more flexible, while those who do not get enough physical exercise tend to gain weight as they get older. Along with yoga breathing exercises, which have a beneficial effect on the central nervous system, it helps the development of body awareness, concentration and memory. These are very important skills for any child with a developmental disability.

What are the Benefits of Yoga in Cerebral Palsy?
The practice of yoga poses (asanas) followed by deep relaxation can help significantly reduce the high muscle tone that is characteristic of most children with cerebral palsy. Asanas relax the muscles and tendons, relieving tension in the muscles and around the joints. Asanas relax the body; they also strengthen areas of the body with low muscle tone.
One of the most important aspects of asana practice for children with cerebral palsy is stretching and aligning the spine. As a result, the child can develop greater range of motion and coordination as well as greater independence.

What are the Benefits of Yoga in Microcephaly?
Yoga poses (asanas) are an effective way to increase blood circulation and benefit internal organs for less physically active children. Breathing exercises (pranayama) in yoga strengthen the immune system and increase the oxygenation of the blood, which aids in cell repair. By increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood, it sends more oxygen to the brain, which helps strengthen the central nervous system.

Yoga helps children with microcephaly develop body awareness and improve their cognitive and motor skills.

What are the Benefits of Yoga in Autism?
The first step in doing yoga with a child with autism is to establish a strong bond with the child. To do this, the therapist enters the child’s world and establishes a relationship with the child at his or her level. Once the therapist is successful in this relationship, the child gains their full trust. Massage, music, dance, nursery rhymes and stories are some of the different techniques a therapist can use to connect with the child.

As trust and friendship builds between the child and the therapist, the therapist begins to teach the child some yoga poses (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). Once the child is familiar with the initial poses, the therapist can add more asanas and deep relaxation techniques to their work.

The combination of asanas, pranayama and deep relaxation will strengthen the child’s nervous system, increase overall health, and help develop body awareness and concentration. Yoga therapy helps children with autism gain motor, communication and social skills by creating optimum physiological and psychological integrity.

What are the Benefits of Yoga for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Yoga uses postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama) and deep relaxation techniques to strengthen the central nervous system. Children with ADHD often have learning difficulties due to hyperactivity and distraction.
As a result of yoga, children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) focus better at school, their behavior problems are reduced, and anxiety begins to decrease in children with high anxiety levels. A significant decrease in hyperactivity behaviors and a significant increase in concentration are achieved. Students’ ability to focus on a subject and maintain their attention on a task increases significantly after practicing yoga.

With the right breathing techniques, it increases the ability to calm the brain and balance the left and right hemispheres (lobe) of the brain.

What are the Benefits of Yoga for Children with Dyslexia?
The main goal of a child with learning disabilities is to strengthen all areas of the child’s development. Yoga offers an effective therapeutic alternative for children with learning difficulties.
Breathing exercises (pranayama) in yoga stimulate the central nervous system and strengthen the immune system. Along with yoga poses (asanas) and deep relaxation, pranayama makes it possible for the child to develop body awareness, balance, memory and concentration.

Yoga for children with dyslexia uses yogic eye exercises that strengthen the optic nerve, relax facial muscles and stimulate various centers of the brain. These exercises improve the eye’s word recognition and visual perception skills, focusing ability.