Yoga is traditionally a Hindu spiritual discipline that includes breath control, meditation, and specific bodily postures. However, yoga has been adopted for health and relaxation by people in many cultures. The benefits of this practice are plentiful, including increased flexibility, muscle tone, and strength; weight loss; improved cardio health; and higher energy.
Yoga has obvious health benefits when practiced regularly, but here’s five benefits you may not have considered for you (the parent, guardian, or primary caregiver of a child with a disability) and your child.
1. It helps you calm down
According to a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, doing just 20 minutes of yoga can improve cognitive function, calm our minds, and tame distracting thoughts. Yoga also encourages you to let go of worries and stress from your day so you can focus on breathing and being present. By letting go of unnecessary thoughts and worries, we learn to purposefully relax.
Additionally, yoga requires you to breathe. When we focus on our breathing, we force ourselves to calm down and relax. Sometimes simply practicing focusing on your breathing is enough to calm yourself down and lower anxiety, which brings us to our next point…
2. It can reduce the symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety
In a study from Oxford University, “yoga showed decreased stress, improved mood, and reduced psychological distress”, and yoga was associated with better self-control, and suggests that the practice may help decrease aggression and antisocial behavior.
Yoga has also been found to reduce cortisol levels, and providing “anti-stress” effects, which helps lower stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Yoga also reduces adrenaline (or the fight or flight feeling) so people practicing it feel less stress.
There are yoga sessions designed specifically for anxiety and depression, and because both are often found in parents of children with disabilities (and sometimes found in the children themselves), practicing these specific sessions can help you feel calmer and ready to tackle whatever parenting brings your way.
3. It can reduce muscle tension and help tone muscles
Yoga focuses on stretching muscles all over the body, and for children with certain disabilities, this can help with muscle tension and tone. Over time, stretching and relaxing the muscles during yoga sessions can help your child get rid of tension and increase strength. You can also loosen up those tense muscles and tone problem areas up by practicing yoga regularly.
4. It’s a repetitive activity
Because most sessions of yoga have repetitive movements and poses (and many children with disabilities need consistency, order, or repetition), children can improve their motor development and coordination in a low-stress environment. Knowing sessions will be very similar time and again makes yoga a perfect outlet for individuals who need consistency and reliability.
5. It increases self-awareness
Self-awareness means you are aware of yourself (your feelings, why you do things, how you interpret things in life, your habits, your thoughts, etc.). Yoga helps us develop self-awareness, which leads to learning triggers for stress or being upset and how to combat those triggers. Oftentimes this is through breathing techniques and relaxing while practicing poses and stretches, and other times it's by letting go of things that are unimportant and cause unnecessary stress.
While you may not be able to stop and do a warrior pose whenever your child is pushing your buttons, or your child may not be able to do child’s pose while feeling anxious at school, you or your child can remember to let go of the things which won’t do you any good to focus on.
To help teach these benefits and more, Hand-in-Hand is hosting a yoga class for young adults, which will end with healthy smoothies, on November 9, 2017 from 6:30-8:30 pm at Hand-in-Hand, and today (October 25) is the last day to sign up by calling or emailing Mary: 563-332-8010 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us for some relaxation, stretching, and gaining all the wonderful benefits of yoga, and don’t forget to add some yoga into your (and/or your child's) daily or weekly routine to improve your quality of life!