OMATAS Blog

We’re including Yoga in the Week

Yoga movements are an OT workout for any child. And for kids who battle with sports (or not) yoga is the perfect pace.

Every morning we start the school day with some sort of regulating activity. Tuesdays is Judo, other days we do chores. Our goal is to help children to get to a state of calm alertness which is the state they need to be in to learn.

Yoga helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous system by reducing resting heart rate, breathing patterns and allowing the body and mind to release stress from daily life. For these reasons, yoga may help in increasing resiliency to life stressors and self-regulation, thus increasing vagal tone.

lifescience.com

Our vagal tone is important. It is the 10th cranial nerve and flows from our brains over our throats, heart and digestive system. It is an important nerve because it forms part of our regulatory system. Think about the physical symptoms we experience when we are under stress: increased heart rate, loss of voice, slowed digestion.

Children with learning difficulties often experience high levels of stress and dysregulation. This has a huge effect on their bodies ability to function, let alone learn. We suppose that many children lack vagal tone and this could be contributing to non-verbal symptoms, anxiety, inattention, distraction and over dysregulation.

Yoga is being seen as one of the best exercises for strengthening vagal tone. It includes a lot of breathing, slow and controlled movements and our two favourites, proprioceptive and vestibular input.

You can look into Polyvagal Theory to see the science behind it. In short it is about our states of being: calm and alert – fight or flight – shutdown. These three states are part of our autonomic nervous system and regulate our responses to threat. Why this is such a big deal these days is because our modern lifestyles are keeping us all in a higher alert state and causing us to not go back into our ‘rest and digest’ state enough to recover. We tend to stay in fight/flight and if things get really bad, we go into the freeze state. These have very bad repercussions for our overall health, let alone the ability to learn and grow our brains.

In children, we can begin to build good life habits and coping skills that can be automatic by them so that when they are grown, they already know how to manage their own stress. For children who battle to regulate their state most days (this is seen a lot in children with Autism and ADHD) this is even more important. You can follow us to find out what else we do.

We think yoga is a great way to start the week. Our instructor is kind and regulated herself. While we want to see improvements, we’re focused on working from where the children are right now, and setting their goals not ours. We’ll keep you posted on the outcomes, but in the mean time our parents have been invited to join our Tuesday morning class. After all, good healthy habits are for everyone.

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