Without this vital energy, our bodies cannot function effectively. The way we breathe has a profound effect on the nervous system.
A person uses only one-seventh of his total lung capacity while breathing. Our brain cells require three times more oxygen than other body cells. Yoga teaches us how to increase and control the flow of oxygen through prana. By regulating breathing and increasing the intake of oxygen to brain cells, we can strengthen and revitalise the nervous system. If practised correctly and consistently, pranayama has a powerful and stabilising effect on the mind and body.
Yoga therapy has helped speech therapy in children with:
*Cerebral palsy (CP)
*Mental retardation (MR)
*Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
*Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD)
*Learning disabilities (LD)
Strengthen vocal chords
Children with cerebral palsy have limited oral skills. Speech depends on the coordination of the muscles involved in respiration, phonation and articulation. The stretching and relaxation of specific muscles during asana practice, followed by 10 minutes of deep relaxation, facilitates the speech therapist’s job by normalising muscle tone.
Low muscle tone (hypotonic), high muscle tone (hypertonic) and fluctuating muscle tone can affect speech. Due to low muscle tone, children with Down’s Syndrome often have difficulty coordinating speech muscle movement. Enlarged adenoids/ tonsils and recurrent allergies may force the child to breathe through the mouth, which may affect speech fluency.
Every breath you take...
By paying attention to the child’s breath and posture, a therapist can determine which asana can improve muscle tone and alignment.
Meditation, progressive relaxation, sitali and sheetkari, nadishodhana pranayama, and chants have been found to help control stuttering.
Voice disorders can be deviations of pitch, intensity or quality. Yoga therapy, especially sarvangasana, benefits both throat muscles as well as vocal chords. It clears up throat congestion, alleviates symptoms of thyroid and improves overall circulation.
Chanting can boost metabolism, increase endorphin levels, lower blood pressure and improve voice quality. Ujjhayani Pranayama is found to be especially useful.
Children with autism spectrum disorders find it difficult to communicate and interact socially. A yoga module which incorporates warm up exercises, strengthening asanas, calming asanas, yogic breathing practices and chanting can help.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders can be treated through alternate nostril breathing as this exercise calms the mind and balances the two hemispheres of the brain.
Asanas, deep relaxation and pranayama facilitate the development of physical awareness, balance, memory and concentration.
Children with learning disabilities can benefit from practising the yogic eye exercise thrataka, which helps in strengthening the optic nerve, relaxing the facial muscles and stimulating the various brain centres.