by Shakta Khalsa
We all know that exercise in general is good for children. But did you know that yoga has poses and exercises that specifically work with different body systems?
For children with Sensory Integration difference, like ADHD and Autism, the key is balancing and strengthening the nervous system. When the nervous system is organized, the senses process input (from eyes, ears, etc) in a balanced way, in a way we consider to be typical.
My training is in Kundalini Yoga, which was brought from India to the west by Yogi Bhajan in the late 1960s. I studied with him for almost 40 years. Somewhere in the 1980’s I remember my ears perking up when he mentioned that there was a great Kundalini Yoga exercise for children with Hyperactivity–the early name for ADHD and ADD. It is called Bundle Roll.
In the Radiant Child Yoga training program, everyone learns the Bundle Roll. It is a very fun way to help balance the nervous system and create relaxation and alertness in ALL children, including those with Sensory Integration issues. Try it here:
Bundle Roll: Start out lying on the back. Stiffen the arms and legs, use the core muscles to pull the arms and legs up. Rock back and forth until there is a momentum to begin rolling. The child should be encouraged to keep his/her body tightened and straight while attempting to roll over and over in one direction, then reverse and do the same in the other direction.
The intense tightening of the body strengthens and organizes the nervous system and creates an effect that is similar to swaddling. Wrapping from the shoulders down to the legs and using hammocks made of lycra have been used effectively in what is referred to as deep pressure therapy for ADHD and Autism. Additionally, as the child’s body contacts the floor while rolling over an instant release of tension, like a full body massage, is created.
Log Roll: Bundle Roll with a story line! The children gather at one end of the room. While waiting for their turn to roll, they can be trees along the shore of the river (standing in tree pose). One at a time, they become logs (by doing Bundle Roll) and roll across the river (the length of the room). They can then become trees again on the other side of the river and stand on the opposite leg in Tree.
Tips: Have children spread apart so they don’t bump into each other. Don’t worry if they do not roll straight, but encourage them to keep their body stiff and use their core muscles. The head naturally stays out of the way during the roll,
Bundle Roll/Log Roll is great for proprioception (feeling all parts of your body and where they are in space), and for vestibular system too (equilibrium in motion). Have fun doing Log Roll with your child. Having fun is always good exercise, no matter what your age!
You can find this pose in my book: Fly Like A Butterfly, at www.childrensyoga.com, or better yet—take a workshop with us!
Shakta Khalsa, the founder of Radiant Child® Yoga, an international training program for teaching children yoga and mindfulness, is one of the world’s leading experts on children and yoga, a trained yoga professional at the highest level (ERYT-500), a parent, an AMS certified Montessori teacher (since 1982), and the author of five books, including: The classic Fly Like A Butterfly: Yoga for Children; Kundalini Yoga; and Yoga for Women.