Nizha Periaswamy

Autism is a condition that involves communication and behaviour. An austistic child faces issues with communicating with others, and have difficulties in understanding what others think and feel.

Austistic people often have internal struggles, especially in expressing themselves, via words or body language, facial expressions, and even touch. According to a local data, 1 in 68 children have autism, with the gender ratio being four boys to one girl.

Apart from medical care and therapies, yoga has also been found to calm an autistic child's emotions and give them the ability to self-regulate.

A study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in 2012 that showed that austistic children who practised yoga consistently over a 16-week period showed signifant improvement in their behaviour.

Researches have also shown that autistic children who practised yoga have increased eye contact, tolerance to sitting, better non-verbal communication and receptive communication skills.

If you are a parent looking to give a "yogic" approach to your autistic child, consider these three yoga poses and breathing techniques, and perhaps, look for yoga instructors who teach children with special needs.

Cat-Cow Pose

These two poses, done together, helps calm the body and release tension. In the cat-pose, tuck your chin towards your chest, and let your neck release. On your inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax and go loose. On the cow portion of the pose, lift your head and tailbone up towards the sky, without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck.

Tree Pose

This pose requires a lot of patience and concentration as it involves standing in one leg. Your child can pick whichever leg they have the best balance with, to stand on the mat. The other leg must be placed on the side of the knee, or above the thigh of the standing leg. Once this pose is assumed, the practitioner must place their hands together in a Namaskar-like position on top of their head, and breathe in and breathe out.

It is best if your kids do not close their eyes during the pose, instead keep their eyes wide open, with the vision focused on any object. If they find it difficult to stand on one leg, the wall can be used for support.

Child Pose

This is a calming posture by itself. Allow their kids to sit on their knees, and place their forehead on the floor, with their arms stretched out beyond their head. Let them hum the "Aum" sound as long as possible. This sound and the posture generate soothing effect to the nervous system.

When these are done in an orderly and consistent manner, autistic children can see improvement, especially on the emotional aspecy. Do not rush the results as every child is different and need differing methods and approaches to see improvement. Try to include fun and joyful activities with yoga so that your children don't get bored and anxious during the session.

Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.

Photo source: Yoginizha Yatra