A child in a seated yoga pose with his eyes shutIntroduction

Yoga has been a constant part of my life as I grow personally and professionally. It has been even more important as I find myself in a new city and on a new career path. I currently work in the field of autism and health services research. Recently, I took a yoga class that unexpectedly brought these two parts of my life together: yoga and learning about autism.

A Personal Story

My friend and I had taken this yoga class a couple of times together. It is a restorative yoga class, and the main purpose of it is to relax. In past classes, we had noticed that the teacher of this class was very thorough with her cues. She was also patient and thoughtful and had a very calming voice and presence. Near the end of the class, the teacher explained how much yoga has helped her as a person on the autism spectrum.
I was instantly struck by how brave she was for sharing that she has autism. At the same time, I was bothered that this felt inspirational. Sadly, the stigma associated with autism is such that someone may be seen as being brave for telling a group of people that she is on the autism spectrum. I admire this small, perhaps unintentional, effort to chip away at the stigma connected to autism.

Yoga for Autism

I am also amazed by the power of yoga. I knew about yoga practices for pregnancy, depression, victims of trauma, weight loss, and for those recovering from addiction, but I had never heard about yoga for autism. Based on what I know about autism, it makes perfect sense. Yoga focuses on quieting the mind and unifying the mind and body to bring peace.
Radiant Child Yoga is one organization that runs trainings for learning how to teach yoga to children with autism, ADHD, and different abilities. They believe that yoga helps children with special needs by:

    • activating calming hormones
    • giving children self-regulation tools by focusing on breath and movement
    • balancing brain hemispheres and improving mood
    • organizing and relaxing the nervous system
    • building self-confidence & self-affirmation

Even after ten years of practicing yoga, I am constantly reminded of the awesome power of yoga to clear the mind, open the heart, and strengthen the body. I believe the practice can truly benefit anyone and everyone and wish that yoga could be accessible to everyone who wants to try it.

For more information on this topic, please see the following websites:
Radiant Child Yoga https://childrensyoga.com/yoga-for-adhd-add-and-differently-abled-children/
Yoga Movement Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder https://www.yogamovementtherapy.com/classes-workshops/yoga-for-children-with-autism-spectrum-disorder/
“Classroom Yoga Helps Improve Behavior of Kids with Autism” by Eliza Barclay https://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/10/12/162782583/classroom-yoga-helps-improve-behavior-of-kids-with-autism