Yoga Techniques Applied to Autism Spectrum Disorder — Part 3 of 3

Silvia Edith Fernández, (Sadhana), Ciudad de Tolhuin, Provincia de Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Yoga techniques applied

Pawanmuktasana Parts 1, 2 and 3. Each series has its theoretical basis about the effects they generate in the body, the mind and the spirit.*9

Conscious/abdominal breathing techniques and prana nigraha techniques promote and awaken different pranas inside the physical structure.*8

Relaxing techniques: Relaxing poses needed so the child can balance any sensation of tiredness, reduce excessive muscle tensions due to poor posture or tensions.*9

In the Connected Integration Pattern® three basic principles are articulated creating a dynamic that can't be omitted. It is not the addition of the three principles that constitutes the model, but the art of combining these concepts through the teacher's role, from his or her ability, knowledge and own evolution. The success in the practice of this model depends on the teacher's attitude, willingness, receptiveness, conscience and previous experience with the techniques.

For instance: For a child with communication level C and an established teacher-student relationship, pawanmuktasana 1 technique is used. This is carried out through the moulded pro gram, paying constant attention to the child's breathing processes. The teacher joins to the child's rhythm, breathing with the child, allowing the child to follow the teacher's physical movements by a more subtle connection. In this way, an increase in the mirror neuron functions is allowed through both sensory and motor perceptions in a simultaneous way. (6)

The communication level achieved through this model surpasses the cognitive barrier which, in most cases, is the limit for the task with these children. The Mirror Neuron System is receptive to communication in varied levels, mainly in the subtlest ones. Therefore, the practice, the teacher's connection and empathy is of essential importance to detect and develop an appropriate response the moment the teacher notices the need of the child.

Experience evaluation

Children's modifications were recorded by means of different sources as the experience was implemented. The yoga practice re placed neither any ongoing therapy nor medication. Therefore, to recognize the program results, the modified behaviours in almost all the attended children were taken into account. The professional medical psychiatrist who monitored the experience expressed the following observations and its symptoms from the clinical point of view, 'Bearing in mind as a referential framework the initial diagnosis of each child, the following aspects were observed in most of them:

  • —Decrease in the restricted interests
  • —Increase in the communicative intention
  • —Greater breadth in thinking flexibility
  • —Decrease of anxiety symptoms and motor concern
  • —Improvement of motor abilities from greater body awareness
  • —Greater breadth in the ability of detecting one's own anxiety or discomfort
  • —Development of acquired strategies to face this situation.

The following information, common to the majority of children, was collected through the interviews with parents:

  • —Beginning to be aware in the familiar group.
  • —Improvements in the interactions with others and enabling a socializing change
  • —Recognition of one's own emotions facing new situations and dealing with them; not abandoning either the activities or the relationship with one another
  • —Greater quietness which facilitates new learning abilities
  • —Enjoyment of some social interactions which were refused before
  • —Control of one's own behaviour, in some aspects.

The yoga teacher left a written and filmed account of the children's behavioural observations in the sessions, which show the modifications that were being captured. They express what the parents had manifested through the task and the link generated in each meeting:

  • —Safety
  • —Self-confidence
  • —Quietness at the time of new experiences
  • —Comfort with own body
  • —Movement control
  • —Environment perception
  • —Self-enjoyment manifestation.

Although the existence of a change in communication at a cellular level can't be proved due to the fact that there is no technology available up to now to do so, it can be observed in the children's behaviour and expressions. It can be assumed that the communication at a cellular level had been modified from the clinical point of view, the family dynamics and behaviours in the yoga training. It is essential to emphasize that the earned achievements by the children were sustained over time despite having had interrupted yoga sessions.

Conclusion

The performed experience concludes that the Connected Integration Pattern®isan efficient approach for children diagnosed with autism, and that it encourages their performance at an individual and social stage. The success of its implementation is based on three claims:

  1. The accomplishment of a complete anamnesis, medical history, which will allow us to measure the child's know ledge from every aspect
  2. Interdisciplinary work
  3. Yoga teachers' training and experience.

These conditions guarantee that yoga meetings with children will be developed as they are described in the experience.

The core of the model is based on nexus without attachment, the pedagogical instrument and the yoga techniques described here. There fore, the modification of any of them, implies its own dislocation.

The experience is centred on the unblocking of the communication channels with the purpose of recuperating and redeveloping a functional way to succeed in reducing their anxiety levels, and understanding and regulating different emotional states. As presented in the above report, those effects to the level of the children's behaviour were observed in all cases. Consequently, the success of the aim can be established.

The actual experience has made clear that the child with ASD can develop other levels of communication and learning, being benefited with the yoga practice and the application of the Connected Integration Pattern®.

Refection

Bearing in mind that the pawanmuktasana series is defined in Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha as 'a group of asanas that eliminate the blocks that prevent the free flow of energy through body and mind and having worked mainly with pranamaya kosha, it is possible to have fulfilled some kind of activation in udana. Although it is technically impossible to prove it, it is inferred from the results: a significant change in 100% of the cases, in the communicative behaviour of the treated children. New possibilities are opened to all children diagnosed with ASD.

References:

*6 Soto, E. Vega R. (2007), 'The system of mirror neurons, Elements, No. 68
*8 Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Yoga Darshan (2007), Munger, Bihar, India
*9 Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha (2011), Munger, Bihar, India