Yoga games and Yoga Classes for all ages
Considerations when driving with disabilities- follow link for article
Stepping into a Healthier Lifestyle With Head-to-Toe Strategies by Steve Johnson
"Kids Yoga for Coping with Anger" by Faye Martins
Yoga – Why it’s Great for People Recovering From Drug Abuse - follow link below for article https://addictionresource.com/yoga-recovering-from-drug-abuse/
"Teaching Laughter Yoga for Cancer Patients" by Faye Martins
"Beyond the Hype: kids yoga & wellness (not a “sport” or a “fitness craze”)" by Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2
"Olfactory System as a Sensory Tool in Treatment" by Jeanette Runnings
"Yoga Can Enhance Your Occupational Therapy Practice" By Jeanette
"Yoga....Not Just for Adults Anymore." "What Kids are Saying about Yoga" By Jeanette Runnings
"Sensory Processing......or as Goldilocks would say, some things are “just right”, while others are not.
YOGA FOR SPECIAL CHILDREN By Dr. Rita Khanna
Stepping Into a Healthier Lifestyle with Head-to-Toe Strategies
Are you tired of feeling sluggish and unwell every day? It's time to take control of your health and feel more energized by incorporating head-to-toe health strategies into your everyday life. Shared by Yoga-Yingo, follow these tips to make sustainable changes that can lead to extraordinary results in no time.
Head Back to School Online
Investing in your overall health and well-being can begin with education. By enrolling in online educational courses, reading informative books, and taking courses related to healthy living, you can have a solid foundation of knowledge in the field. This deserves a look because choosing to learn more about healthy nutrition, fitness, and various holistic practices can be empowering and provide the necessary tools to make informed decisions about your health.
Drink Plenty of Water Every Day
Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Drinking enough water every day can have numerous benefits, including improved digestion, skin health, toxin removal, and energy levels. Experts recommend drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water daily to stay adequately hydrated and reap the benefits.
Take a Multivitamin
Most of us struggle to maintain a well-balanced diet that provides all of the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Taking a daily multivitamin can be a simple way to ensure that you're getting all the essential nutrients required for optimal health. Speak with your healthcare provider to help you choose the right multivitamin that meets your individual needs.
Use Herbs and Spices for Flavor vs. Salt
Salt is a silent killer and can lead to health issues when consumed in excess. Using herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals can be a healthier alternative to salt. Not only do herbs and spices provide a wide range of health benefits, but they also make your meals more flavorful and satisfying.
Invest in Healthy Products
Investing in high-quality health products such as supplements, skincare products, and healthy snacks can be a great way to boost your overall health. Some of the benefits include better formulation, skin nourishment, and the transformation of your skin. However, it's essential to read reviews and check product descriptions before making a purchase to ensure you're buying top-notch products that benefit your health.
Avoid Sitting for Long Periods of Time
Sedentary lifestyles can lead to a wide range of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It's important to take breaks from sitting for long periods to get some exercise or simply stretch your muscles. Invest in a standing desk or take a walk around the block during your lunch break.
Practice Good Posture
Good posture plays a crucial role in maintaining your body's alignment, balance, and function. It helps in the prevention of muscle strain and back pain by reducing the stress on your spine. By practicing simple habits like sitting up straight, keeping your feet flat on the floor when sitting, and adjusting your computer monitor to eye level, you can significantly reduce the risk of neck and back pain.
Incorporating head-to-toe health strategies into your everyday life doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. These simple tips can help you achieve greater health, happiness, and well-being. With a little effort, discipline, and patience, you can achieve optimal health and transform your life. Remember, consistency is key, and little changes can add up to significant positive impacts on your overall health. Living a healthy lifestyle is a journey that starts with simple choices every day. Choose to make the right choices, and you will be amazed at the tremendous positive impact on your health and well-being. Take control of your life and embark on the journey to becoming a healthier, happier, and more prosperous version of yourself.
What’s Holding You Back from the Amazing Health Benefits of Yoga and Meditation? by Christopher Haymon
Three out of four Americans believe that “yoga is good for you,” and the number of American adults over 50 doing yoga has tripled over the last four years. Science also backs up all kinds of benefits attributed to both yoga and meditation; in fact, many people use meditation to help them reduce stress and to stave off workplace burnout. So, why are these two practices not a part of your life yet? Yoga-Yingo shares more about the benefits, as well as how to get started.
Undeniable Health and Well-Being Benefits
The health benefits of yoga and meditation for folks over 50 are in the news daily. With yoga, anyone of any age can get the benefits of movement without the strain. According to stress expert Dr. Kathleen Hall, regular exercise cuts the risk of chronic disease by 40 percent. Yoga is a perfect low-impact exercise option that promotes good bone health. It also improves your posture and increases your flexibility to ensure that you maintain a good range of motion as you get older.
While you may have already heard about all these benefits, did you know that yoga can also improve your gut health? Because your gut health is so tied to your stress levels, it makes perfect sense that there would be a correlation. Yoga and meditation greatly reduce stress, which has a profound effect on your gut environment, from your digestion to your immune system. Engaging in yoga and meditation helps balance gut bacteria levels and, in turn, improves gut microbiome/gut health. And as Christiane Northrup, M.D. says, “When your gut microbiome is out of balance, you are setting yourself up for a host of health issues, including weight gain, diabetes, brain fog, and cancer.” Between the stress reduction and actual movements that help with gut health, it’s no wonder that a daily yoga practice can help you feel healthy and happy.
Studies have also shown that yoga is beneficial for your dental health. As stated in this study published in the International Journal of Dentistry Research, “A stressful lifestyle may not only lead to depression, high blood pressure and anxiety, but it can also cause dental problems.” Further issues arise when depression leads to serious oral health concerns, which can then increase the symptoms of depression. Practicing yoga has been found to greatly reduce these issues and lead to overall better dental health.
How Do You Get Started?
You can reach out to your local studio for private or group lessons, and you can stream online yoga videos specific to seniors. Don’t worry if your community doesn’t offer “senior-friendly” classes; beginner yoga classes can also provide the modifications for your needs. Another type of yoga to look for is “hatha yoga.” These classes are usually much slower and tend to focus on basic, beginner-friendly poses.
Many senior centers, retirement communities, and gyms offer yoga and meditation classes as well. All you’ll need is a yoga mat, stretchy pants, and a form-fitting top that won’t slide down when you bend forward. Yoga is traditionally done barefoot, but if you’d rather not, there are yoga socks with grips on the bottom to help your feet from sliding around. Personal guidance is always ideal, but you can also check out classes online.
When you prepare a space at home to practice, you need enough room to move around easily, and you also want an area that’s conducive to your practice. Clutter, grime, and a lack of light can harbor negativity, making it harder to concentrate, but you can easily banish bad vibes with a few techniques so your practice space is serene and inviting.
Meditation is always much easier than people think; all you need to get started is a quiet place to sit and a timer, such as the one on your phone. For a beneficial meditation practice, you will focus on your breath as you breathe in and out. As your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath — that’s it. Breathe in, breathe out, and repeat until your timer sounds. Start with five minutes a day and increase the time when you’re comfortable. You’ll receive the most benefits if you meditate for at least 20 minutes.
What else could hold you back? Remember, yoga and meditation are for everyone — seniors and their caregivers alike. You don’t need to be thin, flexible, or athletic to practice yoga. And to benefit from meditation, you don’t need to be spiritual, burn incense, or take an expensive course. Everything you need to start can be found in the tips above. Are you ready?
Kids Yoga for Coping with Anger
By Faye Martins
How can yoga help children coping with anger? Children are at a stage in life where they are still trying to learn to manage and control their emotions. Any challenging situation, which frustrates them, can lead to anger; and before they, or their parents, have a chance to prevent it, they can fall into a full-blown temper tantrum. Learning to manage intense emotions, and to control their reactions, will help children face challenges, without frustration and anger. Yoga is one tool which can help them manage their lives with less emotional turmoil.
The practice of Yoga, through the union of postures, breathing practices, relaxation, and meditation, gradually teaches practitioners, children, and adults alike, how to gain control of both their body and mind. Since anger is all about loss of self-control, acquiring techniques, for maintaining control during emotional situations, allows children to constructively manage life’s many situations, without resorting to anger and negative reactions.
Since self-discipline is a strong component of kids Yoga practice, children learn to discipline themselves in many ways, which also includes their emotional energy. When practicing Yoga, children are taught to hold a specific asana, to breathe a certain way, and to harness their emotional energy flow. Through Yoga practice, children learn how to constructively release their tension and calm down.
Each child coping with anger then learns to apply all these integral parts of a Yoga practice to life, which prepares him or her to face frustrating situations, without letting anger get out of control. In this way, children learn to mindfully consider each situation, while employing breathing exercises (pranayama) to calm down and maintain emotional integrity. As a result, children learn to make rational decisions and to take time to consider the results of their actions. This Yogic self-discipline takes time to learn, but prevents emotional episodes from escalating, because children are not further stressed by an adult ordering them to calm down.
Another way that Yoga training helps children with anger management is through its peaceful, centering effects. Mental well-being and general contentment are the results of a regular Yoga practice for all practitioners of all ages. These good feelings do not end when a child leaves a session or a studio. A content, centered child learns to face tough situations, without losing emotional control.
During the practice of Yoga, children learn empathy and connection with the world around them; they learn to think about how others feels, which also helps them when reacting to any situation. Before resorting to anger, a child, who practices Yoga, will usually be able to see the situation from the other side. In some cases, he or she will be able to identify how the other person feels, and perhaps, this will help the child find ways to deal with the situation in a focused manner, which prevents emotional outbursts.
Many children will need help coping with anger. It is only a natural part of life for children to enter into a quest to find their place in life; but Yogic methodology is a non-medicated solution for maintaining emotional health, while they are on the journey.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Teaching Laughter Yoga for Cancer Patients By Faye Martins
Laughter Yoga – are you serious? Many Yoga teachers don’t even consider it. Yoga is a serious art, science, and way of life. Should we make it into a joke? Paul Jerard often says, “we have to learn to laugh at ourselves.” In fact, taking life too seriously could kill us. Next time you think about adding a new class to the schedule, you might want to smile while you’re doing it.
Evidently, laughter really is the best medicine. M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, known for its innovative research and cutting-edge technology, recently added an unexpected weapon to its arsenal of complementary care alternatives. Laughter Yoga, a technique developed by an Indian doctor in 1995, provides a light-hearted, healthy break from the grueling pace of medical procedures and offers patients a chance to play and connect with each other.
Already growing in popularity, the use of laughing Yoga in the medical field gives additional credibility and exposure to a practice that can potentially help cancer patients deal with anxiety and find support. Consisting of three techniques, laughing Yoga engages practitioners with chanting and clapping, laughter, and meditation.
A study based on results from 20 people at the University of Maryland suggests that laughter might be as effective as aerobic exercise in keeping arteries healthy. According to “Psychology Today,” humor has far-reaching emotional and physical benefits:
• It increases creativity and problem-solving abilities.
• It creates a sense of connection and synchronizes brains within a group setting.
• It increases pain tolerance.
• It lowers blood sugar levels.
• It increases the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.
• It strengthens immunity and regulates blood flow.
• It provides support by bringing people together.
“Science Daily” reported in 2008 that health care workers who care for terminally ill patients say that constructive wit is the key to coping on a daily basis, and evidence shows that students learn more quickly when humor is part of the lesson. At Swedish Cancer Hospital in Chicago, laughter Yoga accompanies chemotherapy, potentially helping patients and caregivers at the same time.
Although researchers are not sure exactly how laughter works, some theorize that it may increase feel-good endorphins or stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the walls of arteries. Clinical studies conducted in India, Austria, Bangalore, and the United States, however, claim their studies offer proof that Laughter Yoga lowers levels of stress hormones and decreases the likelihood of helplessness and depression.
People who have cancer live with stress and uncertainty, states that foster negative feelings. Laughing offers emotional and physical relief that can improve the quality of their lives and possibly allow them to live longer. Sometimes, Yoga instructors need to have a sense of humor.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Beyond the Hype: Kids Yoga & Wellness (not a “sport” or a “fitness craze”) Well it has been quite a week of “media hype” regarding kids yoga! Kids yoga being reported as the latest “fitness craze” for kids and that it is the fastest growing “sport” in the nation. Which then led other news media to turn it into a “sports vs. yoga” debate. Unfortunately our news media has increasingly become about catchy headlines & misinformation. Imagine if this same amount of coverage was given to accurate information about the positive aspects of well-rounded kids wellness activities? Coming from the perspective of a Speech-Langauge Pathologist with 23 years of experience working with kids of a wide range of ages, abilities & needs, what drew me to yoga as a wellness activity for kids is how it taps into multiple learning styles, can be easily adapted to meet individual needs, can be done individually or in a group, is non-competitive & has research showing its benefits for kids with special needs (in particular for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, anxiety, etc…). Here is what I consider to be a well-balanced approach to kids yoga (slide from my presentation at the Oklahoma Autism Conference, at right) But kids yoga is just one piece in a larger wellness puzzle for kids. There are many things you can do every day to help kids learn healthy habits that will lead to a lifetime of wellness. Making good nutritional choices Learning to make exercise a habit. This could be any combination of physical activities that are suited for that child’s individual needs, abilities & interests. Identifying sources of stress & learning stress-busting strategies. Practicing good dental health. Avoiding smoking, drinking and taking drugs. Making and maintaining healthy friendships. Learning positive social skills & how to handle teasing or bullying. Practicing kindness towards themselves & others. Always wearing proper safety equipment when playing sports, riding a bike or riding in a car Making eco-friendly choices. Reducing exposure to violence in media, movies & video games, Internet & social media safety, Etc…. Looking for info on the top kids health & wellness issues in the US? The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health measures the public’s opinions, perceptions, and priorities regarding today’s most important child health issues and trends. Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, IAYT, RCYP-2 Speech-Language Pathologist Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC – inclusive wellness activities for kids of all abilities Radiant Child Yoga Certified – Levels 1 & 2 Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OMazingKidsYoga
Olfactory System as a Sensory Tool in Treatment By Jeanette Runnings, OTR/L, KKY, RCY1-2, CIMT
I’m not talking about Aroma therapy. I’m talking about using basic things you can find in your kitchen or garden. Cinnamon, curry, chocolate, basil and cilantro are a few of my favorites. In the Occupational therapy setting the use of smell as a sensory modality, has been shown to be a useful therapeutic tool. I have personally been using it to: improve attention and focus skills via midline orientation, encourage turn taking, social/emotional interactions and emotional stimulation, develop nasal breathing and breath awareness for relaxation, calming and self regulation, desensitize the picky eater or persons with hypersensitivities to smell. So why is it under utilized? I was first introduced to using smell with geriatric patients, as an Occupational therapy student back in the 1980’s during one of my clinical internships. It was used to alert patients and invoke positive memories and sharing in our groups. The use of smell can be used throughout the lifespan as an aid in therapy with a variety of patients whether it is those with physical, mental or developmental disabilities. Attention Getting In my current practice, I have used olfactory stimulation to regain group attention and focus in my children’s yoga group sessions. These children who have a variety of developmental challenges including autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing concerns, when presented with olfactory stimulation respond immediately, where verbal or visual cues are less effective. The midline orientation helps to refocus the children, and the emotional response to the stimulation gets a quick reaction of focus, attention, sharing and social responses and dialogue. Since the children have a desire for “a turn” in the group and took turns taking sniffs it encouraged turn taking, waiting and attending. Nasal Breathing and Self-Calming A big focus in a yoga group has always been on the poses and postures of yoga for improving strength, coordination, body awareness and balance, but it is through the breathing exercises that clients learn to relax, pace and find calmness. Through the olfactory system, I begin to teach nasal breathing and breath awareness. One exercise is called “flower breath”. Once the child understands the concept of smell, you do not need to have an actual flower, scent or something to smell. They are asked to pretend by taking a nasal breath in and slowly exhaling through their mouth at first. With practice, the exhale is later taught to be performed through the nose which is more calming. Arm movements such as bringing hands towards nose and mouth on inhale and extending arms either forward or out to sides with the exhale can be performed with the breathing exercise. With the experience of smelling, children can then engage in taking a “flower breath” anytime during the day as a way to calm, self- regulate, transition between activities and just refocus and get centered. This is an easy exercise that can be taught to teachers for use during transitions such as lining kids up to go to/or from Music, PE, recess or for calming before a test. Sensory Integration for Picky Eaters Olfaction, taste and trigeminal receptors together make up flavor. Our tongues can distinguish our main qualities of taste (sweet, sour, bitter, salty), but our noses can distinguish hundreds of smells. It is during the exhalation of breath that the olfaction contribution to flavor occurs in contrast to that of proper smell which occurs during the inhalation phase. (2) During individual sessions, I have been utilizing the sense of smell with patients who are picky eaters and/or hypersensitive to smells. Using common household ingredients can affectively stimulate the olfactory and taste systems. I usually present smells in old spice jars, film containers and small bottles. Examples have included: coffee, ginger, mint, nutmeg, lemon, garlic, onion, and cocoa. Fresh fruits work well and provide both an olfactory and tactile experience. I start off with presenting only 2-3 scents in a session, but take the child’s lead if more will be presented in the session. Some children are sensory seekers and will request to smell more. In children who are verbal, discussion on foods and smells can then take place. As a precursor to feeding therapy, it is effective in desensitizing and allowing the child to be more receptive to trying new foods. In sensory integrative treatments, I have used olfactory stimulation while a child is engaged in a vestibular or “happy” activity to integrate more positive connotations with food smells. Positive emotional experiences when paired with smell, give that smell a positive connotation, as noted in research performed at Brown University. Their findings indicated that when a neutral odor is paired with an emotional event, the perception of that odor was altered to fit that association. An example noted is that Americans, tend to like the smell of wintergreen, a common ingredient in candy and gum but in Britain, where wintergreen is often used to make medicine, the odor is less pleasing. The study found smell is learned and not just a matter of genetics. (1) This has strong implications for therapists that work with patients with feeding issues, mental health issues and during cooking sessions in a physical rehabilitation setting. Not only is there a connection between smell and taste (2, 7) but new findings indicate that there is a sound/smell connection as well. (2, 3, 4). Perception of a smell is increased when presented together with a sound; as noted in spikes in activity at the olfactory tubercle, an area of the brain where smell is processed. The activity was significantly higher when the sound was presented than when just the smell was presented alone.
HOW DOES IT WORK? WHY DOES IT WORK? The olfactory system is quite complex and consists of many synapses and processes. There is still much we don’t understand about how this system processes information and it’s influence. Externally we start off at the nose, where smell enters the body and interacts with cilia and smell receptors sending the signal via the 1st cranial nerve (peripheral nerve system) to the olfactory bulbs for processing. There are two olfactory bulbs; one for each nostril. Inputs from the two nostrils are processed separately just like input from our eyes. (6) From the bulbs, messages are relayed to the central nerve system and to the cortex. When information goes to the cortex, it moves via both ipsilateral and contralateral pathways with synapses at the thalamus and hypothalamus. This connection to the limbic system is involved with mood, motivation, memory and neuroendocrine regulation. The limbic connection is responsible for the emotional component of smell. (7) Olfactory information is processed in five major regions of the cerebrum: the anterior olfactory nucleus, the olfactory tubercle, the amygdala, the piriform cortex, and the entorhinal cortex. (See chart below). Every smell is coded, the experience is put in long term memory for retrieval and the context plays a part in the emotional connotation that smell will take on. The olfactory limbic system is an old system that existed and evolved over 450 million years ago. Its importance to survival, fight and flight responses in early creatures and more currently in learning and memory should not be underestimated. (8) Its influence is often subconscious. What would first alert us to a fire in the next room; vision, hearing or smell? NOSE Receives input that interacts with cilia, mucous, and smell receptors and sends information to the CNS via Cranial nerve #1 Input is then transmitted to the Olfactory bulbs. and then relayed through the CNS via ipsilateral and contralateral neural pathways. Synapses occur in the thalamus (dorsomedial nucleus) and hypothalamus before processing in five main cortexes. Anterior Olfactory (Nucleus) Cortex processes olfactory information but is not fully understood. Olfactory Tubercle is where sound/smell multi-modal processing occurs. (4) Amygdala (limbic system) is involved in emotional/social influences and responses to stimuli. Piriform Cortex (temporal lobe) is involved in identifying smells. Entorhinal Cortex is involved in memory and associations. Chart 1. Simplifies but demonstrates the various pathways involved in Olfactory processing.
PRECAUTIONS: Only food and safe sources of smells should be used for olfactory stimulation. Stimulation should be a quick sniff of less than a few seconds, unless of course it is something being cooked, in which case the smell may linger for longer i.e. bacon, micro waved popcorn, etc. Over stimulation or negative reactions can be noted by signs of watery eyes, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate or other signs of stress; a pulling away or a refusal should be respected. Essential oils and other aroma therapy modalities should only be used if you have been trained in their use as they are very potent and can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Scientific research is beginning to back use of aromatherapy for many conditions. (9) You should also be aware of any allergies your patients may have or of others in your facility. Some allergic reactions can be severe. The Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE) reports more than 1,400 inexpensive and readily available products are part of an inhalation abuse problem in this country. Air fresheners should not be used or encouraged to be smelled even if TV ads encourage it. They are part of the many commonly used products such as felt tipped markers, correction fluid, nail polish remover, computer dust removal sprays, hair spray, pressurized dessert toppings, spray paint, glue, butane lighters and cooking spray that are “huffed” or “sniffed” by children to achieve short-term highs. These compounds can cause irreversible damage to the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and even death.” Please visit the ACE website to find out more about this problem. http://www.inhalant.org
SUMMARY AND CONSIDERATIONS: Olfactory stimulation is a sensory modality that is often under-utilized but research is showing it is a sensory component to treatment that can be effective with many patient populations. It influences learning, memory and motivation. Olfactory stimulation helps: Improve attention skills. Elevate or influence mood. Teach nasal breathing for self regulation and calming. Desensitize picky eaters to food smells and improved taste perception. Stimulate socialization in groups. Enhance smell tolerance when used along with positive connotations/associations. Enhance smell perceptions when presented simultaneously with sound stimulations. References: 1. Herz, Rachel International Journal of Comparative Psychology http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/2004-05/04-069.html 2. Masaoka Y, Satoh H, Akai L, Homma I. (2010). Expiration: The moment we experience retronasal olfaction in flavor. Neurosci Lett. 473:92–96. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2010.02.024 PMID 20171264 3. Peeples, Lynne (2010) ^ Turin L (December 1996). "A spectroscopic mechanism for primary olfactory reception". Chemical senses 21 (6): 773–91. PMID 8985605. 4. Wesson, D.W. & Wilson, D.A. (2010). Smelling Sounds: Olfactory-auditory convergence in the olfactory tubercle. J Neuroscience. 30:3013-1021 PMID 20181598 5. Keller A, Vosshall LB (April 2004). "A psychophysical test of the vibration theory of olfaction". Nature neuroscience 7 (4): 337–8. doi:10.1038/nn1215. PMID 15034588. See also the editorial on p. 315. 6. Zhou W, Chen D (2009). Binaral rivalry between the nostrils and in the cortex. Current Biology 19(18):1561-5. PMID 19699095 7. Kratskin, I.L. and Belluzzi, O. (2003) Anatomy and neurochemistry of the olfactory bulb. In "Handbook of Olfaction and Gustation" 2nd edition, ed. R.L. Doty, Marcel Dekker, New York, pp. 139-164 8. Joseph Ph.D., Rhawn Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, Clinical Neuroscience 3rd Edition (Academic Press) 2000. New York 9. Hirsch, Alan R. (2003) Life's a Smelling Success Using Scent to Empower your Memory and Learning, Authors of Unity Publishing, Shasta, CA 10. http://www.answers.com/topic/olfaction _________________________________________________________________
Yoga Can Enhance Your Occupational Therapy Practice by Jeanette Runnings
Yoga has been around for thousands of years and has been shown to be beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety levels, and improving strength, coordination and balance skills. No matter what area of occupational therapy you practice, the benefits pertain to all of our caseloads. Yoga means union of body, mind and spirit. It is a holistic practice. It is not a religion or cult. You can be of any faith to practice yoga. The practice of yoga has been westernized over the last 40 years in the United States. Yoga Benefits I like to have an eclectic therapy practice drawing from many theories and approaches, which led me to add yoga to my repertoire over two years ago. An easy way to start incorporating yoga into your practice is to learn to use breathing exercises, and teach breath awareness when exercising. Yoga breathing is usually a slow inhale through the nose and an equally slow exhale through the nose. There are other techniques and special breaths taught as part of a yoga practice, but this is an easy place to start. For example, when a patient is performing shoulder flexion exercises, he/she can inhale with the arm lift and exhale with the lowering of the arm. This makes for smoother movements and focus. If your patient has a hard time with this, you can start by having him/her count out loud. The rhythm of the breath has a positive impact on both heart rate and respiration. Inhaling and vocalizing "Om" on the exhale at least three times helps center even the most hyperactive child. I explain "Om" as being a universal sound. The kids usually giggle when I ask if the "mmm" part of the "Om" tickles their lips. A laughter yoga exercise of saying "ho, ho, ha, ha, ha" repeatedly for up to one minute helps strengthen the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, improves circulation and makes positive chemical changes in the brain. Dopamine and serotonin levels are affected by laughter. Endorphins released through laughter are known to be beneficial in reducing depression, stress and anxiety. The poses or asanas as they are called, can target certain areas of the body. Weight bearing through arms and hands helps strengthen the UE in such poses as downward dog or rainbow. Balance poses such as tree or half moon require not only strength and balance, but focus and attention skills.
In my own practice, I have worked with five boys, ages four to nine, with a variety of developmental delays in an outpatient group setting. I introduced them to yoga with the use of Yoga-Yingo games. I developed the game series with the idea that kids, especially autistic children, learn best with visual aids. The games require visual scanning, matching skills and motor planning. Like puzzles, the games have a definite end: when all poses have been matched and performed. Yoga-Yingo is played similarly to bingo, but the competition is taken out as all players "win" at the end of the game. The kids pick pose cards and match the cards with poses pictured on their individual game boards. Breathing is the focus at the beginning and the end of each game. This helps get the kids centered and ready to play, but also helps with the transition from game end to clean up/transition. Some of the changes in my kids included improved balance skills and UE strength. For example, one boy went from needing to hold onto a wall for support when trying to balance in tree pose, to assuming the pose without outside support by the end of the school year. The use of breath in self calming was noted in another boy who had anger management issues.
Finding the Right Option: Our goal in therapy is to have our patients be a part of their community and to know what resources may be beneficial to them. Yoga is non-competitive and accepts people where they are. There are many forms of yoga (e.g., Iyengar, Ashtanga, Anusara, Svaroopa) and finding the right style for your patient may take some investigating and trial and error. A Bikram Yoga class, often called "hot yoga," would be contraindicated for your patient with cardiac conditions or hypertension, as asanas are performed in a hot environment. However, your athletic patient who has recovered from an orthopedic injury may enjoy and derive benefit from this same type of yoga. You may want to call and talk to different yoga instructors and possibly sample classes before referring your patients. There are yoga therapists that practice and specialize in working with clients with orthopedic concerns such as back, neck, shoulder and knee injuries. These classes tend to be gentler as opposed to a PiYo (Pilates and yoga combination) or Power Yoga class. You will want to see and know what is offered in your community before referring patients.
To learn more about Laughter Yoga, please go to www.laughteryoga.org.
Jeanette Runnings, OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist with over 20 years experience. She currently is in private practice. She teaches kids and family yoga classes with both typically and atypically developing kids. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Yoga-Yingo games, please refer to her Web site: www.yoga-yingo.com. published 10/15/07 OT ADVANCE Vol. 23 •Issue 21 • Page 22
KISS Keep It Simple Yoga, by Shatka Kaur Khalsa. This book teaches about the different styles of yoga and gives examples of exercises. Fly Like a Butterfly, by Shatka Kaur Khalsa. This book is a good resource if working with children. Children's Book of Yoga and Yoga for Teens, by Thia Luby. This is another good pediatric resource, with beautifully colored pictures and demonstrations. Yoga for the Special Child, by Sonia Sumar. This book is a good resource for working with severely involved children. Sonia outlines programs in developmental sequence. Playful Family Yoga for Kids, Parents and Grandparents, by Teressa Asencia. --------------------------------------------------------
YOGA ... Not Just for Adults Anymore. by Jeanette Runnings, OTR/L
The ancient practice that was developed, in India, thousands of years ago, and made popular in the 70's, has more recently taken another leap in the Western Hemisphere. Children's Yoga has been gaining momentum and for good reasons. The health benefits we adults get can also be obtained by our children. Things like increased strength, flexibility, coordination, and focus, and how about illness prevention? Aren't those some of the reasons parents get their children involved in gymnastics and karate? So why not Yoga? You get the added benefits of learning to self-calm, becoming attuned to one's breathing, and relaxation (Savasana). There has been increased talk about how stressed our kids are, and then there is the increased number of children being diagnosed with ADD/ ADHD and Autism. It would make sense that parents would seek out ways for children to learn to calm themselves and de-stress. With Yoga, being the holistic practice that it is, why wait till adulthood to introduce it to our children? Let's embrace this movement. Of course, a children's Yoga practice would have to be different than an adult's. It would have to incorporate use of imagination, games and cooperation. It would have to take into consideration their growing bodies. Younger children generally have the flexibility, but not the strength or balance, while older children tend to have increased strength and balance but lose flexibility with age. Most Yoga poses, or asanas, were developed by studying nature and animals and then imitating them. This is something children can easily understand and have fun with. They can use their imaginations as they assume the poses, or asanas, like "cat", "downward dog", "cobra" or "tree" poses. Their forms may not be exact, but they are learning a skill they can use for life. Anyone who practices Yoga, knows you have to start somewhere on the journey. How soon can kids get introduced to Yoga? New moms can practice with their infants, by their feet, as young as 8 weeks old. Passively moving your infant through some poses can help with digestion, colic, and sleep. Children become more active participants when they are crawlers and walkers. My favorite age range to teach children's Yoga, would be the preschool and early elementary ages. Our classes include use of music, songs, puppets, art activities and stories. My classes all start off with a breathing activity or focus. We then move into a movement activity, which would include asanas, and/or games, usually with a theme, i.e. going to a farm, zoo or the beach. We end with a relaxation time where we may do some visualization. Teenagers can also benefit from a Yoga practice. Classes for teenagers resemble adult classes, with an increased focus on form and more challenging poses. They are experiencing many body changes and self-image issues. Yoga helps them become more attuned to their bodies and to understand strengths and limitations. This is also a time when physical benefits from Yoga will enhance their performance in school athletics. Emotionally, and spiritually, it will benefit them as they go through puberty and the changes of becoming an adult, with more responsibilities and life decisions. No one will argue the fact that being a teenager is stressful. Many a teenager has commented that Savasana is their favorite part of class. As you can see, Yoga is a lifetime practice and can benefit and be enjoyed by people of all ages. By Jeanette Runnings Jeanette is a pediatric Occupational therapist and teaches children and family Yoga classes in the Boise area. She has created the family Yoga game series called YOGA-YINGO. The games can be used in homes, schools, daycares and, of course, in Yoga classes. For more information, she can be reached at 208-362-5368 or visit www.yoga-yingo.com Published in Aura Wellness Center - teacher training newsletter 2006, Hedra News 2/07 ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________What Kids are Saying about Yoga by Jeanette Runnings, OTR/L, KKY, RCYP1-2
“My favorite pose is Tiger” says Connor during his preschool yoga class at Wright Foot Forward. “When is relaxation time?” asks Jonah. Can we pick a pose from those pictured on my mat?” asks Rita. “When you say OM do your lips tickle?” asks the instructor. The whole class tries and there are lots of giggles. At Garabatos Spanish Preschool, children learned yoga and Spanish at the same time this past year. When I pull out a frog toy, it was greeted with big smiles and shouts of “rana”. A picture of a snake(serpiente) got them all quickly on their bellies and hissing. They may have the wigglies and what preschooler doesn’t, but when relaxation came around they laid down and were quite still. They knew it as part of our routine for concluding the class. Yoga means union, uniting body, mind and spiritual concepts. Children’s yoga classes consist of poses and movement. They are progressed rapidly from one pose to another to keep their interest and attention. Games and stories are used to piece it all together. I am often asked if I am teaching Hinduism or Buddism. I am not. I have been teaching elementary kids at Arrowrock International School as part of their after school program. During our last session, I asked the kids what their feelings were about yoga and this is what some of them had to say: Logan: “Good thing to relax your mind and spirit and body parts” Jack: A good thing to stretch out and exercise” Sydney: “Good for your body and your heart and your brain” Terra: “Yoga is good for relaxing and being calm and stretching your body”. Hannah: “Yoga is fun”. I couldn’t agree more. NOT ONE reported it to be a religion. As part of my farewell to the kids I gave them a note that read: “OM” in the front, for the universal sound we often ended or started our classes with. The inside read: “Breathe Get Focused Be strong in all you do” The use of affirmations in a kid’s yoga class is empowering. I know each one of them in reading those words had the vision of Warrior I; standing in tall lunges with arms held high. I ended it with “Namaste”, a word that means the light in me recognizes the light in you. I’m quite happy that the kids learned quite a bit about yoga and themselves. Published in the Hedra News 7/07
Sensory Processing…or as Goldilocks would say, some things are “just right”, while others are not. by Jeanette Runnings OTR/L Most people would agree that the smell of a bakery is delicious, a rainbow is a delightful sight, and the thought of a massage is relaxing. That’s to “most people”, but there are some that would disagree. The reason would be a hyperactive or hypoactive sensory system. That smell in the bakery may be too strong to the point of being noxious or not strong enough to be noticed. That rainbow may over excite or distract a person from driving attentively, or be out of direct view and not noticed. That massage may be too firm and hurt, or not firm enough. Each person is very individual, but there is an area of average most people will agree on. This is true with all sensory systems whether it be visual, auditory, gustatory (smell), tactile (touch), proprioceptive (joint receptors), kinesthetic or vestibular (movement). Sensory processing is ongoing and is a normal process of everyone’s day. When your sys