Personal growth after studying Yoga for Children with ADHD/Autism with Shakta Khalsa and Allison Morgan, April 2013
Andrea: I have incorporated techniques that I have learned from the Adhd/Autism yoga course to use an inward focus on breath, feelings and inner energy. In my own yoga practice, I find that I am more aware of using my breath to navigate difficult poses.
I have also become more aware of my state of mind before I attempt to teach children.
So far it has been my children I am teaching but I am starting a regular six week yoga series for kids with disabilities at my local gym. I will use the body-mind-spirit instruction given in the Radiant Child Yoga manual as a guide.
I have also started to use some of the relaxation techniques with my children especially prior to a stressful event. My youngest daughter is being treated for anxiety and the poses, breathing and music have helped her become more aware of her body and anticipate anxiety before it is difficult to manage. We are “keeping it fun” so she has no idea that I am doing this to help her.
Professional work with children after studying Yoga for Children with ADHD/Autism:
Andrea: I also assisted in a children’s yoga class for 5-9 year olds, taught by Lynda W., a radiant child yoga teacher. I attended with my daughters 10 and 7. The class had 11 students, with three boys and eight girls.
- Lynda began class with breath, teaching bunny breaths and then incorporated the shoulders to emphasize correct breathing. A short warm up then followed in pretzel position doing ‘sprinklers’. She then welcomed everyone by name with Namaste.
- Warm up was followed by a story of a seed and how it begins (in child’s pose) and with a little help from rain, sun and wind grew into a flower. I assisted Lynda in simulating rain with light taps on their heads with our fingers and sun by rubbing their shoulders.
- We then did a freeze dance and ended in a yoga pose that each child had chosen from a deck of poses. This was followed by another breathing exercise.
- We ended with meditation and relaxation using breathing buddies on their chests.
It was interesting in that one child was very tearful in the beginning stating that she had not seen her mom all week and spent the first half of class sleeping on her mat. By the end of class after speaking quietly with her Lynda had the little girl not only sitting up but actively participating. Another girl in the class mentioned at the end that it might be a good idea to do yoga every day. Lynda has really reached these kids!
Shakta’s response: Great that you have sensitized yourself to seeing the benefit of yoga for children, Andrea. In this class, did you incorporate anything you learned at the yoga for adhd /autism course?
Andrea: I incorporated many techniques learned from the course. While Lynda used a story line to guide the class I tried to use clear and confident instructions when I assisted. We encouraged children to work in pairs to increase socialization and eye contact, and I encouraged focus on the breath to facilitate relaxation. We used deep pressure when simulating the sun on their shoulders and played games that required self-regulation.
Andrea: I am very thankful to be involved with children and especially children of different abilities. I have gotten helpful insight from my training in many ways. I love the OT approach in addressing the tactile system, proprioception, and the vestibular system of yoga.
I was incorporating yoga into my treatment as an OT and never took the time to explain this to myself and the children’s parents. Now I am seeing a clear improvement in cooperation, focus and goal achievement when starting with yoga before working on handwriting and fine motor skills with my students. I will bring what I have learned into my yoga class for kids but now I can explain it…to myself and to parents. Thank you, Shakta, for your support!
Shakta: You are most welcome, Andrea! I am sure that more and more wonderful insights will flow into your experience.