Yoga helps children with ASD to feel more calm and comfortable in their bodies, making it easier for them to control their behavior, learn new skills and enjoy social interactions.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders often have different, intense sensory experiences. Because of this intensity, their sympathetic nervous systems are often in overdrive and stuck in a “flight or fight” response. The stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system causes increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels, while diverting blood flow and oxygen away from the digestive organs towards the skeletal muscles. As the heart rate speeds up, breathing becomes shallower. These physical reactions frequently lead to an agitated emotional state.
A Yoga practice serves to neutralize the sympathetic nervous system by activating its counterpart, the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system slows the heart and lowers blood pressure, letting the body get back to its work of breathing and digestion. Yoga encourages deeper inhaling and exhaling, which calm the nervous system. It builds core strength, supporting deeper respiration, and a healthy body.
Physical symptoms of autism can also include Hyper or Hypotonia (muscles too tight or too limp), and digestive problems. Yoga asanas help to combat these conditions by stretching, toning, and strengthening the entire body.