Yoga and Your Sensory Child: Poses to Improve Proprioception and the Vestibular System


When I first started taking note of my daughter’s sensory issues, I recognized the usual sensitivities that are related to the five main senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. But once I started doing more research on the topic, I discovered there’s many more senses than just those five and they can be greatly affected in a child with Sensory Processing Disorder.


Proprioception is the sense of where your body is in space and this information is transferred through muscles, joints and bones.  Children that have difficulty in this area will often have some of the following symptoms:
-need tight hugs to calm down, or the opposite and avoid hugs and closeness
-seek out movement activities like jumping and climbing
-appear clumsy and accident prone – stubbing toes, bumping into walls and doors, tripping over feet
-enjoys rough housing and wrestling play
-tends to spill or breaks things frequently (my daughter is a Taurus and a true definition of a bull in a China shop!)

The vestibular system helps with balance, feeling the direction and speed of movement and remaining upright against the pull of gravity. Some children may exhibit these symptoms if they have problems with their vestibular system:
-poor postural control (falls from chairs frequently)
-poor eye / hand or eye / foot coordination
-may feel insecure in movement (may dislike coming down stairs)
-seeks out intense movement like running, swinging, spinning (doesn’t get dizzy easily)
-often suffers from motion sickness, doesn’t enjoy spinning or quick movements or being held up in the air or upside down.

The brain works together with input from proprioception and vestibular to understand the body’s position and acceleration from moment to moment. Yoga is a great way to strengthen these senses as your mind and body work together to complete the poses. Below is a list of six simple poses that children will love and will also help improve the proprioception and vestibular systems of sensory children. -Pitter Patter and Constant Chatter

Downward Dog

One of the most common yoga poses, this one is a simple one for kids.  They receive proprioception input from the pressures on their arms and input to the vestibular system by having their head inverted.


Plank


Another great pose for proprioception as it has muscles throughout the body engaged and helps to build core strength.


Airplane


This pose builds balance and core strength and kids love pretending they can fly!


Tree Pose


One of my girl’s favorite poses, this helps builds balance as the body works hard to remain still and upright.


The Dancer


A little bit more difficult but they are excited when they can complete it.  Your body works hard to remain grounded as you extend your arm and leg outward.


Warrior I


This strong pose strengthens your whole body while improving your balance.


So take a few minutes out of your day and work on some exercises that will improve your child’s proprioception and balance. You can do all six poses in 10 minutes or do them throughout the day on their own.  Add in some breathing techniques and stretching and you’ll have a well rounded yoga routine for little ones.

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