So, last week I spent two days completing a neuroscience training for my OT continuing education, and an additional 18 hours over the weekend at a Childlight Yoga and Mindfulness training! I learned a lot of new tips and tricks as well as an awesome refresher on how the human nervous system works. The neuroscience course absolutely complemented the yoga course and vice versa. In fact, one of the best strategies to help kids with self regulation and sensory modulation is - you guessed it, yoga! Yoga, a powerful cocktail of physical exercises, breath work, and mindfulness, is certainly a valuable tool to teach our kids that they can use throughout their lives. At its most basic level, yoga calms an overactive sympathetic nervous system so that our fight or flight mechanism is not being overused. Yoga provides calming sensory input through the proprioceptive (muscles & joints) and vestibular system (inner ear receptors). It builds body awareness and core muscle strength, self control, and awareness of the most automatic bodily functions - breathing. Known as the "eighth" sense, interoception is our perception of the inner workings of the body. Some children are particularly sensitive to this (may feel full after eating only a small amount for example), while others seem unaware (such as not realizing they need to use the bathroom until the last minute or having accidents). When we feel emotions, our body senses these through physical symptoms such as stomachache, heart racing, etc. Yoga can help balance this awareness so the child can interpret sensations appropriately.
Kids' yoga classes are quite different than adult classes in structure, but very similar in function -- that is, to relax, to build strength, to gain flexibility, and to become a form of self-care for the person practicing. Yoga classes give a sense of community and connection, but without the competitive nature prominent in most children's activities. Classes are designed for the child's developmental level, and can begin as early as infancy with parent-baby classes. At Katiedyd, yoga will be an integral part of each camp. Classes will also be offered in the near future!
Author: Katie Smith
I have my Masters of Occupational Therapy degree and work as a school-based occupational therapist during the school year. I have been an OT for 18 years and have experience in diverse settings including schools, early intervention in the home, outpatient pediatrics, home health, hospitals, and nursing homes. I have worked in several pediatric OT summer camps over the years and have enjoyed using my skills to have fun with kids in more informal ways. I am certified in Sensory Integration through USC/WPS and kids yoga through YogaFit and Childlight Yoga, and have taken additional yoga courses related to OT. I have 3 children of my own and look forward to including them in my summer camp program!