I continue to be amazed at the positive benefits that yoga offers children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, no matter where they are on the Spectrum.
It has been my honor and privilege to share Tuesday afternoons for the past eight years with twenty amazing children at the Jordan Lake School of the Arts who have taught me so much about being in the present moment. They know how to be the poses from the inside out. They are not guided by set expectations, and they have plenty of fun. When they roar like a lion, they can take the roof off the school, and they can stand tall like a tree while the wind blows their branches. Falling down is fun and offers plenty of opportunities for giggles and an understanding that it is OK to fall over. Trees fall all the time! Their creativity and insights has brought me much joy, laughter and wisdom.
There are many tricks of the trade in my “Magic Yoga Bag” that I bring to school each week. But, before digging into the bag, I offer them the opportunity to suggest what games, songs, stories and poses they would like to do that day.
Besides their usual favorites, they want to make sure they will have a resting pose (Sivasana) at the end of class. They have truly learned how to relax and the importance of relaxation. But, more importantly, they have learned how to take that skill off the mat and use it at home and school when in stressful situations. It did not take them long to learn this!
There are numerous studies and clinical trials being conducted to understand why yoga, meditation and mindfulness have a positive impact on those on the Autism Spectrum. Some studies are listed on the Links page under Children’s Classes. But, one does not need a validated study to see and appreciate the positive impact…just seeing happy, tired and relaxed yogis and yoginis at the end of class is enough for me to appreciate the benefits and be grateful.