• Connect with Your Kids: Layers of Sound Exercise


    LAYERS OF SOUND: This mindful listening practice asks your students to explore what they can hear around them in an intentional way. Our hearing is so sensitive. We don't have any way to block out sound the way we can close our eyes to reduce what we see. All of the sounds around us are competing for our attention all of the time. Learning to attune our hearing to the sounds that are most important at the moment is a life skill that children are called upon to exercise from the moment they enter school.


     
    1. First find a still and comfortable position with your body. It's fine to sit in a chair, or lean against the wall. The most important thing is that you are comfortable enough to be still just for a few minutes. It may be helpful to close your eyes for this activity. If it doesn't feel comfortable to close your eyes, let them rest on the ground right in front of you.
    2. Now that you are still and comfortable, take a deep breath or two to help you get ready for what is going to come next.
    3. The first thing that we are going to listen for are the sounds that are far away from us. Open your ears as wide as you can make them, and imagine stretching your hearing way out beyond the room you are sitting in, and maybe even the house that room is in, all the way to the outdoors. Listen carefully and find the furthest away sounds that you can hear.
    4. When you start hearing sounds, don't worry about identifying the sound, or figuring out what it making the sound. Just notice it exactly as it is. (Give your students a few minutes of silence here). 
    5. Now that you have heard the farthest away sounds you can find, bring your hearing in a little bit closer, and find the sounds that are in this house. Again, don't worry about figuring out what is making the sounds, just listen for them.
    6. Next we are going to bring our hearing even closer, to find the sounds that are in this room. Reach your hearing into each corner of the room and see what sounds you can find.
    7. After you have found all of the sounds in the room, we are going to bring our hearing to the closest place of all - our own bodies.
    8. Pull your hearing all the way to your body. Pull it out of the room and turn it to the sounds that you can find your own body making. Listen carefully. Your body might have a lot to say.
    9. After a few moments of listening to your own body, gently open your eyes.

    Share the Experience Together:  Ask your kids how they felt while doing this.  How do they feel afterwards?  There are no right or wrong answers.  This is about learning to feel comfortable with some stillness and noticing how they react and how they feel.  

    Tips on the Environment / Saftey:  Let your kids know that they do not have to close their eyes if they don't feel comfortable doing so.  You can explore doing this with eyes open (looking down in front of you) and eyes closed to see if they notice which may be better for them.  And if they do close their eyes, you can let them know that you will have your eyes open making sure they are always safe.  The point is they feel they can do this practice while learning to be explorers within their own bodies and minds. 

    See this and many more activities in LFY founder Jennifer Cohen Harpers book, Little Flower Yoga for Kids: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program to Help Your Child Improve Attention and Emotional Balance.

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  • Working with Autism in Your Yoga Class - 5 Helpful Resources

    Each month we will take an inquiry or subject (proposed by you) and offer direction and feedback.  Feel free to write in with your concerns or questions and we will answer and provide all the advice we can offer.

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    Increasingly there has become more interest regarding yoga and autism.  If you are a parent or professional of a child with this exceptionality, you perhaps know the challenges that may be a part of their daily routines.  Yoga is beneficial and an ideal practice to help with self-regulation, improved behavior, balance, strength, and focus.

    Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or similar disabilities like Sensory Integration Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, High Functioning Autism and Classic Autism, have been found to benefit from the tools of yoga and mindfulness.  When we become better informed we can help to communicate to our young learners, which for me is the key to providing an effective and fun class. 

    When searching online I seem to find so much information that I often become frustrated.  This inspired me to create a list of helpful resources so that I could navigate through the wealth of data out there.  I have found the below books, websites and tools very helpful and hope you will too.

     

    1.  Yoga Therapy for Children with Autism and Special Needs by Louise Goldberg

    For use in school, at home, or in therapeutic settings, Yoga Therapy for Children with Autism and Special Needs is a how-to manual that meets children where they are, providing a yoga therapy "lesson plan" that will engage them; promote play, social interaction, speech, language, and motor development; and enhance their self-esteem. It teaches an array of Creative Relaxation techniques using posture, breathing, and mindfulness designed specifically for children with autism and special needs. Drawing on her 30 years of yoga therapy experience with children and those who work with them, the author walks readers through yoga strategies that both calm and energize, emphasizing sensory and bodily awareness and the "sacred space" that is so important for these children. Learn the best ways to use your voice and body effectively when working with children; how to minimize distractions and ease transitions; and how to create personalized yoga breaks to enhance independence and avert meltdowns.

    Featuring 60 illustrated poses, 89 photos, and 65 lessons, songs, and games, child-friendly instructions are provided for posture, breathing, and mindfulness exercises. All poses and routines include suggested adaptations and precautions for use, and are organized to address specific sensory skills. Current research on the benefits of yoga for health and learning is summarized, and readers learn how, through yoga practice, the brain’s response to stress can be effectively mitigated.

    With this book, parents, therapists, and educators alike have the tools to successfully develop a therapeutic yoga program for the very children who can benefit most from it.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393707857/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

     

    2.  Yoga for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents and Caregivers by Dion E. Betts                                                                            

    Having successfully used yoga to combat the stress of their own busy lives, Dion and Stacey Betts discovered its potential for their son Joshua, who has Asperger Syndrome. This fully-illustrated book combines the authors' professional expertise with their experience of parenting, offering a range of gentle and fun yoga positions and breathing techniques that are effective in dealing with the increased levels of anxiety, disorientation and tactile sensitivity often found in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The authors give step-by-step descriptions of warming-up, strengthening, calming and tension-releasing exercises that are suitable for reducing coping mechanisms, such as hand-flapping and increasing muscle tone, muscle strength and body awareness. They also offer a range of short and long sequences that can be tailored to fit the needs of the individual child. Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders is ideal for parents and caregivers who want to use simple yoga techniques to help children with ASDs overcome some of the symptoms of the disorder.

    http://www.amazon.com/Children-Autism-Spectrum-Disorders-Step/dp/1843108178

     

    3.  Yoga for Children with Special Needs (DVD) by Aras Baskauskas, Yoga Instructor, Britt Collins, M.S. OTR/L

    Yoga promotes mental and physical well-being, allowing kids to strengthen their bodies while simultaneously calming themselves. Occupational Therapy benefits children by helping focus energy into appropriate movement and function, organizing sensory systems and increasing body awareness and coordination skills.

    Yoga helps children to grade the force of their movements because the slow movements and poses are not pushing their muscles to full extension. Children increase muscle strength while developing body awareness and where their body is in space. Yoga also helps both gross and fine motor strength, breath support, and concentration skills.

    ** This DVD is for children who have the ability to stand, bend down and touch the ground, and can imitate and follow directions.

    Running Time approximately 60 Minutes.

    http://www.nationalautismresources.com/autism-yoga-dvd.html

     

    4.  National Autism Resources – Effective and fun teaching materials for Autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger’s, etc.

    http://www.nationalautismresources.com/autism-school.html

     

    5.  22 Tips for Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders – Helpful website that provides suggestions for teaching and helping kids who have ASD

    http://teaching.monster.com/benefits/articles/8761-22-tips-for-teaching-students-with-autism-spectrum-disorders

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    I have found with my 4 year old that the Yoga Decks/Cards work well.  He gets a huge kick from picking the cards from the box and he adores the pictures.  We do the best we can while having fun with the pose.  We often make up a rhyme or story about the picture or create a game, and sometimes we even create a craft or project. There are occasions when we get to a few moments of breath work and even a savasana.  There are other moments when we move around and be silly. And there are other occasions when we take a break and move on with our day after 5 minutes.  Again, depending on the day and the mood, we simply do the best we can to feel good inside.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=kids+yoga+decks 

     

    Below is an additional list of research and interesting data on the topic.

     

     

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    It’s a true honor to offer yoga and mindfulness to all children.  To have the opportunity to help kids learn to regulate their emotions and show them how to connect to themselves and the world around them is a true gift to share.   
     
    I hope that you find the above list helpful and if you have any comments, further questions or need more information on the matter, please send an email to tricia@littlefloweryoga.com.

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