Yoga’s Benefits for Autistic Children

The week of September 20 is Autism Awareness Week at

yoga by the dozenGuest Blogger JoAnna Ross is the founder of  Yoga By the Dozen, an online company which promotes a healthy lifestyle for kids through their highly acclaimed ‘Yoga By The Dozen’ DVD and their complete line of lifestyle products for yoga. She has been featured on Broadway, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” “The Today Show,” and “The David Letterman Show.”

Yoga is becoming one of the newest techniques to help an autistic child develop their cognitive and motor skills; and foster self-confidence and respect. Yoga is a calm place for an autistic child to feel safe in. The classic definition of an autistic child would be problems interacting socially and verbally, limited activities and interests. With the structure of a yoga class, an autistic child starts to develop their coordination and learns how to focus.

I had the privilege to teach an autistic child named Samson. Over the six weeks of class and additional private sessions, I realized his motor skills were changing.

The big question is: “Why yoga? And why pick yoga over other activities like gymnastics and other sports?” The answer is simple. The repetition of doing yoga weekly, plus the calm atmosphere that surrounds yoga, adds to the discipline of the yoga practice itself. Samson’s motor skills developed greatly. Samson was able to move into yoga poses with less coaching and assistance. He was also more determined and focused.

Yoga is like building blocks. If you can’t do the first part of the pose it is hard to go from there. Over time, Samson was able to move his body into these “foundational steps” so that he could build his body into beautiful poses. His confidence soared and his smile was even bigger (if that was even possible) and more importantly he knew he could do anything he put his mind to. Yoga gives the discipline that a child needs to learn a new pose. Yoga also allows a child to be creative in their minds and it was becoming clear that the repetition of doing yoga weekly allowed him to prosper as a child.

Samson is a great yogi and taught me a lot. Just a little bit of patience with these amazing little children makes all the difference in the world.

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