5 Tips For Teaching Yoga To Children With Special Needs

Yoga is an exercise that incorporates balance, breathing, and coordination into smooth movements or poses that “flow”.  Teaching yoga to children with special needs is tricky.

 But there are definitely some amazing tricks to get the job done.

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As an elementary school based OT, I often push into work with whole special education classes. While every child is unique, the majority of the children need help with strength, fine motor skills, motor planning, coordination, and balance.  Almost all of them struggle with following directions and staying focused.  Sound familiar?

That’s why Yoga is my go-to activity for kids with special needs. It works on everything for everyone.

Research shows that teaching yoga to children can help improve behavior, attention, focus, and social skills. Physically, it can increase a child’s strength, coordination, bilateral integration, and even fine motor skills.   Yoga has TONS of therapeutic benefits for kids.  To learn more about WHY to teach yoga to kids, check out this post I wrote for MamaOT, called “The Therapeutic Benefits of Yoga for Children”.

teaching yoga to children

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5 Creative Core Strength Activities

Need ideas to help your child get strong? Here are five creative core strength activities using the Core Strength Handbook!

Core Strength Actvities

Does Your Child Have Weak Core Strength?

Does your child slump and slouch all the time?

Do they have difficulty with balance?

Is their “helping hand” holding their body up, rather than hold their paper steady?

Do they always lean on a chair, the couch, or other furniture when sitting on the floor?

Are they struggling to participate in exercise due to poor endurance?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may have weak core strength.

I’ve been on a CORE STRENGTHENING kick lately.  Poor Core Strength is often an underlying cause of many other deficits a child may be demonstrating. Plus, it counts as “heavy work”, because it provides proprioceptive input – so it’s great for my sensory kiddos too!

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long island yoga for kids

Long Island Yoga for Kids

Yoga is my absolute favorite way to exercise.  I also love to recommend yoga for kids. Years ago I got into yoga as a form of exercise and stress relief.   I ended up loving it so much that I was certified to teach “Group Exercise” through the American Aerobics Association with the hopes of teaching yoga as a hobby.  I did that for a year and liked it very much, but decided that I like being a member of a class more than I like being the instructor.  However, I am a huge believer in the old saying “everything happens for a reason”.   I learned yoga well enough to teach it and to combine it with my “OT” knowledge, which really helped me to use yoga as a therapeutic activity with my students. Continue reading

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