June 2017

Yoga is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, includes breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures.  Yoga is widely practiced for health and relaxation.  Who couldn’t use some of that - right?  It turns out that people with CP can benefit greatly form yoga in many ways.

Improved Respiration

Specific breathing strategies, as well as physical poses, open the diaphragm and the front of the body to allow for deeper, more rhythmic breathing. Those poses can counteract the closed and restricted posture that can occur from continual sitting (in a wheelchair), or from poor posture resulting from lack of core or trunk stability. 

Improved Motor Coordination

The practice of physical poses support children in developing fine and gross motor skills, balance, bilateral coordination, and improved muscle memory. 

Reduced Muscle Tone

Gentle stretching along with breathing and deep relaxation can help in reducing excessively high muscle tone and spasticity.

Increased Muscle Tone

Specific poses can be chosen to strengthen areas of the body that are low in muscle tone.

Focus and Concentration

Many yoga poses, breathing strategies, and visualization strategies support increased focus and concentration. 

Teaching yoga to children with CP requires knowledge, patience, a supportive approach, and understanding. Depending upon the nature of their unique challenges, children with CP will have varying needs, but even those with severe impairments can benefit from yoga.  Yoga poses can be modified to meet the physical needs of the child, based on their level of mobility and motor coordination.  Amazon has some cards that you can purchase to guide an in-home yoga practice for your child.  Here is the link to the amazon search.  I also searched YouTube for videos that have been posted on this topic.  You can go to YouTube and enter “yoga for kids with cerebral palsy”.  Some yoga studios offer specialized practice catering to kids with various disabilities.  Private sessions can also be arranged with your local yoga studio or you can find your own private practitioner by doing a Google search.