Yoga literally means union .The field of yoga extends from the practice of simple physical exercises to the development of advanced mental and spiritual powers. Yoga symbolizes a unity in body, mind and spirit.
The uniqueness of Yoga lies in the fact that as the body relaxes, opens up and acquires a fluidity of movement and the mind follows. This helps in release of emotions. Tension drains away.
At any given time the body has a phenomenal ability to adapt and develop. Physical effort with regulated breathing can stimulate the viscera’s, the endocrine systems and the muscular systems so that the entire body comes in line. Movement and breath working together improves the circulation, which in turn has a good effect on the nervous system.
One of the greatest problems of today is disharmony. Man is at disharmony with nature. His disharmony with his physical self leads to disease. His disharmony with his mind leads to stress and tension. Breath, movement of body and the power of mind are directed towards one goal resulting in integration within the individual. The disharmony becomes harmonized.
Yoga we know is a powerful tool towards the well being of body and mind. However, children with autism cannot learn like every body. Therefore we have customized Yoga to meet the specific needs of children with autism.
The entire program has been structured on one on one basis (i.e.) one doctor/therapist will teach one child with autism. Initially the child will be passive. But a routine, structured programming will help the child perform exercises on his own very shortly. Parents are often amazed to find their children doing asana actively in a month or so.
Yoga is especially valuable in digestive disorders of all kinds. It not only removes existing problems but also prevents recurrence. Yoga works with the digestive system and not against it. Asanas
massage muscles and organs so as to enhance blood flow and stimulate blocked nervous connections. Pranayama
helps regulate the metabolic process at the cellular level. We have personally found the children with autism who do Yoga regularly are less prone to constipation, indigestion flatulence and diarrhea.
The maintenance of posture and balance is accomplished by means of complex and counteracting reflexes. The motor nerve impulses from the centers in the central nervous system are sent through the descending pathways to the skeletal muscles. This depends in turn, on the sensory impulses from the muscle spindles, the tendons, organs, joints, the labyrinth, skin, eyes, ears and also on visceroceptors. They convey moment-to-moment information about the position of the body parts, movements and the balance of the body in space. These sensory inputs are received, integrated and coordinated by these sub cortical centers in the brain, below the level of consciousness and appropriate motor impulses are passed on to the concerned muscles for action. Thus the maintenance of posture and the equilibrium of the body during Yoga help the central nervous system.
The muscle tone is degree of minimum contraction present in the muscle at rest. The strength of a voluntary movement depends upon the tone of the muscle. Different emotional states influence muscle tone. Intense emotional excitement, fear, anxiety, happiness, confidence etc can give rise to increased muscular tone or the strength. Emotions interfere with coordinated movements. By yogic practices, different groups of muscle fibers contract alternately; a steady tension is maintained in the whole muscle without fatigue. With the improvement in musculular tone we find the gait and postures of the children with autism have shown incredible improvement.
Normally yoga would start with simple breathing exercises. However since children with autism cannot follow instructions and act on them, we teach them Yoga exercises where the breathing is automatically regulated in the exercise. We find that children have better lung capacity and less respiratory infections when they follow routine Yoga exercises.