Why is this Yoga pose the best for Autistic adults?
It is the position we all started in as babies, “The Fetal Pose”. This pose goes without saying that by putting the body in this position will be naturally comforting, nourishing, developmental and supportive.
It is a simple pose that can be accessed from different positions and is naturally the one we turn to for protection or as a comforter if we are upset, scared or worried. In all variations this pose is a super sensory hug! This is because it helps our body to release the natural endorphins we need for us to feel more balanced, regulated, happy and healthy.
There are a number of yoga positions that replicate this “Fetal Pose” and help to achieve a sense of restorative, physical and emotional calm.
1. Knee to Chest Seated
This is our true comforter pose it can be done with the head up looking out or even better head down into the knees with a count from 1-10 for a strong impact self hug or you can kiss your knees whilst saying “I Love You, my Knees” for a well deserved bit of self love.
Benefits: Calming, comforting, extension of the spine and neck, grounding, positive body association and awareness, stimulates the pineal and pituitary gland. Frees and expands the adrenal glands so positive endorphins can be released, a release of the fight, flight or fright response.
2. Knees to Chest forwards on the floor with arms outstretched (Child’s Pose)
This is one of the ancient traditional yoga poses used to aid relaxation and elimination of toxins. You do this by coming onto your knees, place your bottom on your heals and lean forward squeezing your chest towards your thighs. Breathe in and outstretch your arms, breathe out and relax the arms releasing the elbows so the upper the body can sink happily into the lower body. After a few breaths like this, relax and stay in the child’s pose for as long as feels comfortable. You can do this by having a timer for your child so they stay in it for up to 1 minute or more, by playing or singing them one of their favourite songs or even making one up specifically for this pose. Another great add on once you or your child is relaxed is place one hand on the lower back and the other in between the shoulder blades and just hold comfortably for some time offering a tiny bit of pressure, warmth and comfort.
Benefits: Sensory soother and self-regulator it helps to shut out the sensory world and learn how to self-regulate using your own body and breath. Stretches out the hips, thighs, connects upper and lower body and engages proprioception. Activates the lymphatic system to help it pass toxins out of the body, releases tension in the lower back aiding the release of fear and ability to ‘Just Let Go’.
3. Knees to Chest side (Fetal)
A well known sleeping and recovery position that is naturally comforting and helps us to feel supported. By lying on your side bring the knees up towards the chest, you can either hug the knees, outstretch the arms or bring one arm into the chest covering the heart. You can use a visual or sensory aid to keep your child here for as long as is comfortable.
Benefits: Puts the spine back into a natural fetal position aiding the nervous system, opens the back of the heart so feelings can flow. Nourishes the organs to aid absorption of nutrients, supports the whole system and feels oh so good.
4. Knees to Chest (Hug)
This traditional grounding and digestion aiding position can make an overwhelming world so much easier, lie on your back and bring the knees up one at a time towards the chest, place the hands over or around the knees and hug the knees. You can help your child by holding their knees in place and guiding their hands to hug their knees. You could even whilst there give their knees a little gentle rock from side to side or forwards and backwards.
Benefits: Aids digestion, relieves constipation and releases stomach tension or cramps. Connects to the midline core muscle set of the body aiding body awareness, proprioception and sensory regulation. Gently stimulates and massages the kidneys and adrenals releasing fight, flight or fright. Healthy tonic to the diaphragm so helps breathing and sense of self.
5. Knees to Chest – Head to Knees
This pose is stimulating, increases blood flow and stamina, lie on your back, bring the knees up into the chest one by one and once comfortable bring the head toward the knees one by one. Once you or your child can do this you can aim to kiss the knees one by one and say “I Love You my Knees”. You can help your child by placing one hand on their knees to keep them in place and the other hand behind the back on the head so you can support them with just the right amount of pressure to bring their head towards their knees. This is the only pose you come in and out of more quickly as this is not to be held for periods of time as can apply too much pressure on the neck muscles.
Benefits: Engages all the core upper body muscle system for better gross motor control and muscle tone. Tones the back of the neck to aid posture and cognitive development, aids digestion, increases stamina, sense of achievement and self-esteem.
Knees to Chest Variations Top 5 Benefits are:
Calming and Sensory Soothing
Releases anxiety and fight, flight, fright responses
Allows us to let go of and increase muscle tone
We suggest you do one knee to chest pose a day for yourself or your child, choose whichever feels right for that particular day and we are certain you will feel the benefits.
To find out more or discuss further any of these positions, or if you are interested in any of our Yotism (yoga for autism) trainings for individuals, parents and professionals contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Blessings to you all,