When we ask if Yoga helps children with learning disabilities, we ignore an obvious fact. Anything that benefits children not diagnosed with learning disabilities is likely to benefit those who are.
Regardless of circumstances, learning is a process that involves mind, body, and spirit. People who are healthy, happy, and aware are more receptive to receiving and recalling new information. They also have more confidence and enthusiasm than those who frequently deal with frustration or failure.
Over the years, several influential professional journals have published articles validating Yoga’s effects on behavioral and learning processes. This has been good news for teachers and parents who often observe subtle difficulties but aren’t sure what to do about them. In this case, Yoga may help bridge the gap.
Of course, the sooner a learning disability is diagnosed by a trained professional, the better. With the best of care, however, the problem usually doesn’t go away. A good support system and application of appropriate learning styles can turn liabilities into assets, but it takes a comprehensive plan and a good attitude to make it happen.
Mood disorders or dyslexia sometimes accompany attention deficit disorder, for example. Staying healthy and concentrating on the positive helps to cope with the present moment, but it also prevents difficulties down the road.
Five Ways Yoga Helps Learning Disorders
Children who have ADHD or anxiety disorders often find it difficult to focus. Practicing breathing techniques and postures teaches patience and persistence. Progress may be gradual, but it will build confidence over time.
• Love of Learning
Students often experience years of frustration without understanding the cause. Too often, they’re told they just need to try harder or pay closer attention. In some cases, that may be true. In others, it leads to a sense of helplessness and a distaste of learning. Nothing reverses the pattern like success. Yoga – if designed to fit individual needs – can do that.
Not feeling “good enough” often leads to depression and anxiety, but mood disorders are also more common among people with learning disabilities. Yogic breathing, exercise, and relaxation suppress the “fight or flight” response and flood the body with neurotransmitters and fresh oxygen.
• Non-competitive environment
If you ever “sat on the bench” during a Little League game or got picked last when teams were chosen, you know the pain it can bring. Yoga builds social and athletic skills, but it allows students to progress at their own pace rather than competing with their peers.
Yoga teaches awareness of physical symptoms like racing heart beats or nervous stomachs. Knowing when to breathe or focus on the “heart” can keep stressful moments from escalating into episodes of anger or panic.
Above all, Yoga helps us to be more compassionate, something we all need.
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