Yoga for Down Syndrome

Submitted by Pallavi Pandit on December 27, 2012

The ancient practice of Yoga has become popular with people all over the world, because of its numerous health benefits. Today, people suffering from various health problems, including Down syndrome, are also advised to practice various Yoga exercises, techniques and poses.

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People suffering from Down syndrome usually benefit immensely from Yoga, because this practice stimulates their physical and mental abilities. Moreover, Yoga for Down syndrome can be performed in different ways, like a personal routine, with a partner or in a group.

However, it is important that patients suffering from Down syndrome only learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a well-trained and qualified Yoga guru, who is experienced in teaching kids with this disability.


What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome can be described as a chromosomal disorder that affects a person at birth. This condition occurs when there is an error in cell division during conception and an extra chromosome is added to a person’s genetic makeup. One in about 700 suffers from this disorder, making it one of the most frequently occurring congenital disabilities.

People with Down syndrome tend to be shorter than their peers and often have truncated limbs. They also suffer from hypotonia or low muscle tone, which slows down their motor development. Therefore, most toddlers affected by this disorder only start walking when they are between 18 to 36 months. There may be a considerable delay in their language and cognitive skills too.

Many people who have Down syndrome feature in the mild to moderate range spectrum of mental retardation. They are also susceptible to other medical problems, some of which include –

  • Leukemia
  • Infections
  • Respiratory problems
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Obstructed digestive tracts

There is no cure for Down syndrome; however, early and ongoing treatment can help improve a person’s quality of life to a great extent. In addition to medication and various forms of therapy, many patients are now also enjoying the benefits of Yoga.

Benefits

Different Yoga poses help to stretch, strengthen and tone up the entire body. Internal organs also benefit from this practice, as the endocrine glands are revitalized. Given below are some of the more common yoga benefits for Down syndrome –

  • Improving the central nervous system
  • Increasing memory and concentration
  • Regulating sleep and wake patterns
  • Developing body  and spatial awareness
  • Boosting self-esteem and confidence
  • Maintaining a healthy weight range
  • Making exercise fun and safe

Though there are several health benefits of yoga, children with Down syndrome should get a go-ahead from their doctors before taking up this practice.

Poses to do

There is no special equipment, save for a thick towel, mat or blanket, required during a yoga session for Down syndrome. Yoga poses that are patterned after animals, people or things they can relate to usually appeal to most kids. Some of the yoga poses recommended for kids with Down syndrome include -

To reduce the risks of injuries, it is essential that the children perform these poses under the supervision of a well-qualified yoga guru, after getting an approval from their healthcare provider.

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