Last month I had the pleasure of teaching Sensory Processing Yoga on a one day course at Ulster University, Belfast to an enthusiastic group of 40 Occupational Therapists who came from a varied field of practice.
Throughout the day we explored:
What are Sensory Processing Difficulties & What is Sensory Processing Yoga?
The course was practical and involved practising different yoga poses, breathing techniques and relaxation to support sensory modulation, postural difficulties and elements of dyspraxia, namely body awareness, organisation, motor planning and execution of movement.
As an Occupational Therapist working with children with Sensory Processing Difficulties and a Senior yoga teacher, I notice how yoga can support the children I work with. The different shapes we make with our body in the form of the poses, or asanas as they are known in the world of yoga supports the many different sensory systems such as proprioception (body awareness) through the information we gain through the muscles and joints, the vestibular system (movement) through information through the inner ears to support balance, postural stability and arousal levels as well as vision – following visual cues, auditory – following instructions, tactile – touch.
Yoga gives us a platform to integrate different sensory information connecting us to our bodies.
We also had lots of fun exploring different breathing techniques and multi sensory based breathing methods to support self-regulation.
Here is what the participants said about the course:
- Mel is mindful of everybody in the group and individual differences
- Delighted about exercises which get clients out of their ‘headspace’ into their ‘body’
- Very useful course bringing Sensory Processing into life. Very enjoyable & worthwhile. Thankyou
- Great teaching technique – lovely calm voice! Great opportunity to think outside the box and certainly gained a number of tools for practice, particularly as anxiety among children is becoming more prevalent. Thank you
- A wonderful day on many levels – personal and so many ideas for OT practice
- Good introduction to yoga and its uses within the workplace (mental health)
- Very enjoyable day. Tutor was very good at explaining benefits of yoga for SPD & practice/breathing techniques very useful
- I see how elements of yoga e.g. breathing may be useful with some of my Learning Disability clients who are wheelchair dependent.
- I feel confident to try some of the poses as part of a sensory diet with some clients
- Very well delivered and extremely informative.
- A worthwhile course. This course increased my awareness of how yoga can support children and adults and I will be trying this out within the forensic mental health setting
- This course really helped me make sense of how yoga could be used to help the clients that I work with in a meaningful & age appropriate way. We already have access to yoga sessions and I do some sensory modulation work with clients – I’m keen to combine the two! Thank you!
If you would like to attend my next Sensory Processing Yoga Foundation Course click here
I am a registered Occupational Therapist and certified Yoga teacher.
I have been teaching and studying yoga since 2000. As an Occupational Therapist I predominately work with children and young people who have sensory processing difficulties, which may be a symptom of their autism, ADHD, DCD, Dyspraxia, motor or postural stability difficulties. I have noticed over the years how Sensory Processing Yoga has a positive impact on their physical, emotional and mental well-being. Sensory processing is our ability to filter, organise and process sensory information from our environment, so that we can respond appropriately. The sensory information from our environment comes through many different sensory systems, namely the eyes (vision), smell (olfactory) taste (gustatory), touch through the tactile system, movement through the vestibular system and information through our muscles and joints to help us with body awareness through the proprioceptive system.
For many individuals with sensory processing difficulties, Occupational Therapists devise sensory diets to help individuals to develop their sensory processing skills. Through personalised programmes which involve various vestibular (movement –balance) based proprioception (movement and resistance) and tactile (deep pressure and touch) activities individuals can receive the sensory input they need to help them become focused and organised through-out the day. Yoga poses and exercises can complement and contribute to these programmes.
I have been working on an exciting new DVD which is called
Sensory Processing Yoga.
It consists of 4 short yoga practises each about 20 minutes long to support individuals who may need a calming or alerting practice to support their self-regulation as well as practises to support postural stability for those low postural tone and core strength and a motor planning sequence to support balance, coordination and body awareness. In addition there is a short guided relaxation and some breathing exercises which aims to teach effective ways of breathing to support self-regulation, body awareness and core stability.
The Sensory Processing Yoga DVD is available to purchase now.
Sensory Processing Disorder: Yoga Benefits
As well as a yoga teacher I am an Occupational Therapist and I have an Advanced Practitioner post certification in Sensory Integration.
Occupational Therapy compliments my love for Yoga and I see my two paths merging into one; Sensory Processing Yoga.
For the past two and a half years I have been working with children with sensory processing difficulties.
Sensory Processing Disorder is when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses and an individual may exhibit clumsiness, poor motor skills and behaviour difficulties as a result of their sensory systems becoming over responsive to sensory input or under responsive so they want to seek out more.
The sensory systems involved are typically vestibular (movement), proprioception (body awareness) and tactile (touch) resulting in an individual having difficulties such as poor balance, coordination, and/or be over or under sensitive to movements, have difficulties knowing where their body is in space and have poor discrimination to touch. Due to their heightened sensitivity to sensations or as a result of their motor based difficulties an individual with SPD is more often than not in a constant state of alert..fight/flight or freeze.
Yoga helps to bring them back into their bodies and learn to breathe, regulating their arousal levels and helping their central nervous systems relax. Through practicing yoga, the asanas have so many wonderful benefits which help support the vestibular, (movement) proprioceptive (body awareness) and tactile (touch) sensory systems that can support an individual get back into their body and feed into their functional skills (that’s my Occupational Therapy hat!). I know me one of the main reasons I practice yoga is that is puts me in the right frame of mind to face the world, puts me back into my body and gives me the permission to be – is just seems to make sense.
I am going to post a series of Sensory Processing blogs over the coming months and I am currently working on a DVD on Sensory Processing Yoga which will be available to purchase from here.
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