I have been practicing yoga for the past five years and have found so many benefits in my personal life. Recently, I have been reading “Asanas for Autism and Special Needs: Yoga to Help Children with their Emotions, Self-Regulation and Body Awareness,” by Shawnee Thornton Hardy to learn how I can incorporate yoga into my music therapy sessions.
The foundation of yoga is your breath. While there are many forms of breathing used in yoga, they each have specific benefits for your body and should be utilized to achieve specific goals. For example, there is a way to use your breath to build heat as well as a way to use your breath to cool you down. Below, I have outlined a couple of different methods of breathing that can benefit children with special needs and the goals they focus on. Both of these breaths should be repeated 4-5 times in a row to see the benefits.
Balloon Belly Breath:
-First sit in a cross-legged position or lie on your back.
-Place your hand on your stomach.
-As you inhale through your nose, fill up your belly like a balloon causing your hands to move away from your body.
-As you exhale, open your mouth and let out all of the air.
Benefits: This breath targets first and foremost awareness of breath and can help the child realize how to take a low belly breath to promote relaxation and digestion.
-First kneel or sit in a cross-legged position (can also sit up tall in a chair).
-As you inhale through your nose, raise your hands up toward the ceiling like a dragon’s wings.
-As you exhale out of your mouth making a “haaa” sound, fly your arms down and back away from your body.
Benefits: This breath helps the child let out anger and release any tension or frustration they are feeling in the moment. This can help the child calm down and be ready to complete some low belly breaths to further relaxation.
I hope that this gives you some things to try with your child and I look forward to learning more about pairing yoga with music therapy to give my patients the best possible experiences.
-Lauren Booke, Music Therapy Intern