Learn The Surprising Benefits of Yoga

How Yoga Can Help Aspergians and Autistics

Asperger’s Syndrome is commonly called high functioning autism.

benefits of yoga

However, Asperger’s is very different from classic Autism in that there are no clinically significant delays in cognitive thinking, language development, or self-care.

Aspergians are usually very capable, exceptionally intelligent, and particularly talented in a given area, hence the term “high functioning”.

Some classic symptoms of autism are present, though, including a strong dependency on schedules and regularities, as well as the desire to demand the truth, follow the rules, and take them very literally.

Aspergians can have high levels of anxiety, present difficulties with social skills, and show coordination problems due to sensory issues. These symptoms can hinder their ability to be fully engaged in their community or to pursue new activities or groups that may interest them.

Benefits of Yoga

The good news is that there are methods and practices to help overcome these hurdles.

Yoga is an excellent way to help both Aspergians and non-Aspergians face their daily challenges and gain success in many aspects of their lives.

yoga for beginners

Reducing and Managing Anxiety

One of the most beneficial aspects is helping to cope with anxiety, which is very common and frequently caused by disturbances in routine or things not going as expected. Yoga also can you  feel more able to quiet their minds, be socially connected, and improve their coordination, as well.

The deep breathing techniques practiced in yoga, and many of the poses themselves, are repetitive and ritualistic in nature. This in and of itself can be appealing to an Aspergians. Yoga also teaches awareness of the breath and body, as well as how to use awareness calm oneself and relieve anxiety during times of stress.

Additionally, through learning ways to center oneself and quiet chaotic thoughts, yoga can help tune out the distractions of overstimulation and increase focus, as well as a bring a sense of peace and calmness.

Regulating Stims and Tics

Aspergians can tend to show repetitive tics, as well as behaviors known as stimming when they are feeling nervous, stressed, or overstimulated. Tics are repetitive, involuntary movements such as shoulder shrugging, blinking, and throat clearing, just name a few.

Stimming is a shortened term for self-stimulatory behaviors, such as hand flapping, rocking, spinning, or making repetitive noises over and over again. It is often done to help self-manage anxiety, fear, anger, and excitement. It is also often done to help counterbalance overwhelming sensory input, such as too much noise or light.

The deep breathing techniques in yoga, combined with the learned ability to quiet one’s mind and decrease mental stimulus, is an excellent way to help replace the tics and stimming with more socially accepted actions.

Reducing Social Discomfort

Aspergerians may feel disconnected socially, or as if they don’t fit in. Contrary to those with more classic Autism, people with Asperger’s usually crave friendships and want to interact with people, but they can lack proper social skills, such as making eye contact when speaking with someone, understanding the ebb and flow of casual conversation, and how to stay on topic.

Because of this, social situations can be uncomfortable and awkward for people with Asperger’s.

Yoga is an outlet where it is acceptable not to make eye contact and to have limited social interaction ,as participants are encouraged to maintain their own eye gaze and refrain from conversation during class. It is a safe place where their desire to be social, but their lack of appropriate social skills, can come together, and they can feel like they fit in.

The physical conditioning of yoga can further benefit Aspergians. They may be a bit clumsy, may have an awkward gait or poor balance, and a likelihood for proprioception issues (understanding one’s body position in relation to things around you).

Increased Muscular Strength, Balance, and Flexibility

yoga positionsRegular yoga practice produces muscular strength, balance, and flexibility, which in turn increase body awareness and coordination and reduce clumsiness.

Through yoga you and I can better control of our bodies and gain a better understanding of their spacial physicality in relation to what’s going on in the world around us. This, in turn, can boost and build self-confidence and help us feel more socially connected.

Easy beginners poses provide benefit immediately and are easy to master.

As you become more comfortable with the poses, you can add other poses that feel good to you, both mentally and physically.

You can then develop a routine to to meet their specific needs and goals.

The skills and techniques learned in class or in independent practice can be carried other aspects of our lives.

With improved coping skills and self-awareness, yoga can help Aspergians and non-Aspergians overcome the social, mental, and physical obstacles that may stand in their way.

P.S. For those of you who are Christians, you’ll want to check out Holy Yoga, a Christian based community that adapts the benefits of yoga within a Christian worldview.

P.S.S. A special thank you to Amy Williams for contributing this guest post.

 I'm Steve Borgman.  I'm a licensed clinical professional counselor and blogger committed to bringing you hope, understanding, and solutions that you can apply to your life immediately.

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