Practicing yoga with your kids with special needs allows both to reap the benefits, including transferring focus on the stresses of the day to yoga poses that help you relax and recharge.
Breathing is an important part of yoga as it induces relaxataion naturally. Likewise, all children are natrually good at yoga because their body movements mimic yoga poses. Many kids sleep in “child’s pose” and relax in happy baby pose; they turn upside down and twist their bodies around, which benefits the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems. Here are examples of yoga poses you can practice with you and your child:
Seated Spinal Twist
Keep both feet on the floor, take a deep breath, sit up tall and twist your torso, each exhale try to twist more. You can place your child on your lap, or physically help them twist.
A way to beat feeling lethargic. While standing about 2 feet apart swing your arms and twist your body, the key is to let your arms be loose s possible. Only your toes should point forward, otherwise let it all hang loose, and swing slow in a twist.
Half-Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Stand with your feet wide apart and put your hands on your hips. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Look down at your right foot and bend your right knee so much that you can take your right hand to the floor (or a block) in front of your right pinkie toe. As you bend over your right leg, shift your weight onto your right foot and right fingertips. Lift your straight left leg high up into the sky as you straighten your right leg. As you find your balance on your right leg, reach your left arm towards the moon and maybe even look up at the stars. Let your inner star shine bright!! Repeat on left side (which is often trickier if you’re right-handed).
Tip: For a little extra support, try putting your bottom hand on a block or leaning your back against a wall.
Legs up the Wall
Rest your legs vertically (or nearly so) on a wall or other upright support. Breathe and relax here for up to 10 minutes.
Sit up tall in your seat, relax your shoulders so they are even. Lift your shoulders slowly up to your ears and let them drop back down. Gradually pick up the speed of our bounces, until you have a comfortable rhythm. This loosens up the chronically tight shoulder/neck area, teaches your child that movement doesn’t have to be structured or complicated to affect his/her state of mind.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Begin standing tall in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together and arms by your sides. Shift your weight over to your right foot while lifting your left leg off the floor. Bend your left knee and bring the sole of your left foot onto your inner right leg as high as it will go. Either bring your palms together in front of your heart or reach your arms straight up above your head with your palms facing each other. To help you balance, focus your eyes on something that doesn’t move. Shine your heart light up towards the sky. Repeat on opposite side and notice if it’s harder to balance on one side versus the other.
Tip: Balancing poses can be challenging for beans and adults alike. If your tree is wobbly, imagine you are a tree with branches and leaves swaying in the wind. If you fall over, become a log!
Knees to chest
Hug knees to your chest, hands on shins. Slowly roll left to right.
Sit at the edge of your chair, feet flat on the floor. Reach up, inhale. Fold over your legs and let your body fall between your thighs. To come up pull your navel in and bring your body up.
Partner Boat Pose (Navasana)
Both Partners begin sitting up tall with their knees bent, feet on the floor, toes touching (foot-to-foot) and holding hands. With their heels on the floor, Partners press the soles of their feet into each other (one partner’s right foot will be pressing into the other partners left foot and vice versa). Then, Partners work together to lift their pairs of feet off the floor, one pair at a time, as they continue to hold hands and balance. Raise the boat’s “sails” by straightening one pair of legs at a time up towards the sky, while continuing to press the soles of the feet together. Partners can lift their chests up towards the sky and take a few breaths as they navigate their boat. Tip: When practicing partner poses, communication with your partner is key. It helps to make eye contact with your Partner and ask your Partner, “Does this feel okay for you?”
Some of these poses were contributed by Shane B. Kulman, MS, founder of Your Beautiful Child LLC, and some were contributed by Yogi Beans. Tune in weekly to hear Shane on Your Beautiful Child Radio and visit Yogi Beans at 1018 Lexington Ave., Upper East Side, Manhattan.