Monday, January 25, 2010

Yoga for Young Children

I feel great! I just returned from yoga class, and the majority of my lower back pain is gone! Yoga is great for stretching tight muscles as well as strengthening core/trunk muscles and learning to calm down. The breathing in-out and slow, controlled movements help one to slow down.

I bought Yoga Kids (R) DVDs for my daughter back when she was almost 3 years old, and she loves the DVDs so much we still exercise to them here and there. My 2 favorite DVDs are Silly to Calm (R) and ABCs (R). She likes the ABCs DVD because each letter of the alphabet represents a fun animal or pose. For example, "I" is for iguana and you are supposed to hold a plank position (extended arms such as when doing push ups). I would have thought that my limberness back from gymnastics and dance classes would have been passed on down to my daughter, but it wasn't. So, I especially like that these poses help with stretching her legs and feet, especially her hamstrings. Many children like my daughter who do not have a developmental disability tend to have muscle weakness and/or tightness throughout their bodies. This over time can get worse especially when coupled with stress. So, that's where the benefits to the breathing in-out during the stretches is beneficial. Also, for kids who are more hyper-active, the breathing lessons of yoga help the child to self-regulate and calm down to focus better. I recommend these DVDs for higher level functioning children (e.g. mild CP, developmental delay, sensory integration disorder) soon before they graduate the ECI (birth to three years) program that I work for. They can be found online at www.yogakids.com or at Target(R).

For babies and toddlers, there's Itsy Bitsy Yoga. They have DVDs available at Target (R) and books at Barnes & Noble (R) as well as other locations. I love the book because it shows exactly how to position the little ones. It is a mix of yoga and infant massage. This I especially love, since I am also an infant massage instructor (CITMI). I lend my book and DVDs out to my clients quite often. So many of the children I work with have muscle tightness and/or poor body-in-space awareness, so massage and stretches are perfect to help! Some of the exercises are "mommy and me", so that is also good for the moms to exercise too! Their website is www.itsybitsyyoga.com

The benefits to yoga are numerous! And well documented through research as well. Benefits extend to post surgery, postnatally, and the list goes on.

For children who are tippy toe walkers, the infamous downward dog position can help lengthen the heel cords. For children who have upper body weakness, that same position is beneficial to stabilize the scapulae and rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. For me, I enjoy going late in the evening (8-9 pm) like I did today, because it helps me relax before bed time, which translates into me falling asleep quicker. Well, I am off to bed. Good night!

2 comments:

  1. Yoga is indeed a great way to help with the physical (and mental) development of children with disabilities.

    For those that find physical activities difficult, check out the free Sound Therapy home programme of Sensory Activation Solutions. No catch, absolutely free and often quite effective. Go to www.sascentre.com.

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