Yoga and Learning Disabilities

 


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Learning disabilities are a common cause of frustration for children and adults. It is estimated that as high as 15 percent of Americans have some sort of learning disability. By definition, they are defined as the psychological or neurological conditions that influence a person's ability to communicate and learn efficiently.

While people who have disorders such as ADHD and autism may very well also possess learning disabilities, these types of disorders don't belong in the learning disability category. Diagnoses that do belong, however, can greatly vary, ranging from reading disorders, such as dyslexia, to disorders that disallow for the comprehension of mathematics, such as dyscalculia.

Those who are plagued with learning disabilities are not always of high or low intelligence, though presence on both ends of the spectrum are possible. Likewise, a person born with a learning disability wasn't necessarily born with an inability to learn. Instead, the individual simply possesses a processing impairment, such as an auditory impairment or visual impairment, that makes their ability to learn from routine ways of teaching particularly difficult.

While learning disabilities can weaken a person's ability to learn, the damage they do often falls into deeper crevices. Some people, particularly children, with learning disabilities may have severe self esteem issues, anger problems, behavioral problems, and a desire to quit things like school or extracurricular activities.

How Yoga Helps
The treatment of a learning disability can vary from person to person. Different disabilities require different treatment options and even then, therapy must be determined on an individual basis: what works for one person with dyslexia may not work for another. However, yoga, because it does not focus on the disability but the person, can benefit a variety of people with a variety of learning problems.

Self Esteem: Self esteem can be a hard thing for some people to obtain, particularly when that person feels as though they have something wrong with them. Yoga is a vehicle of self-awareness, self-realization, and self-acceptance, three things that work together to increase a person's sense of self, ultimately solidifying their self esteem.

People who do yoga feel better about themselves and the world around them. They become motivated, better able to tackle the hardships a learning disability, or any kind of disability, can bring. Yoga also helps them gain acceptance of their disability, accepting that they have it and learning what can help minimize the effects of it. Yoga also provides time for self-reflection, helping students to become less influenced by their negative capacities and more influenced by their positive ones.

Conscious Breathing: If there is one function that can help just about anything, it's probably the act of conscious breathing. Breathing helps a person on innumerable levels. From increasing circulation to providing oxidation, from ridding the body of stagnant energy to bringing in fresh forces, breathing helps people to be more in tune, more empowered, and more ready to learn.

Breathing can also help thwart a major element of learning disabilities: frustration. . Because frustration comes along with nearly every learning disability, with some people succumbing to aggravation and hindering their ability to learn even more, the breathing techniques taught in yoga can help people to relax, rejuvenate, and try again.

Concentration: The ability to concentrate is a major factor in the ability to learn. Oftentimes, those with learning disabilities have an impaired ability to concentrate. Yoga, however, facilitates concentration. . Not only does the actual practice of it require students to focus on their breathing as it weaves through the poses, but yoga also gives people the ability to focus when away from the studio.

Yoga increases the circulation of oxygen and blood to the brain, allowing people to focus, to concentrate, and to remember things with greater clarity. It also stimulates the Central Nervous system, the system that serves as the messenger between the brain and the rest of the body. Through the meditation and mindful practices of yoga, people become more centered and balanced, allowing them to focus on tasks at hand with greater attentiveness.

Eye Movements: People who have dyslexia, a learning disability that affects reading and writing, may particularly benefit from practicing yoga. This is because parts of yoga involve eye exercises, with students forming poses and focusing on a certain spot for an extended period of time. These eye exercises can increase the efficiency of the optic nerve, relax the muscles of the face, and increase the functionality of certain areas of the brain. These benefits all work together to improve a person's ability to focus visually, helping them to correctly recognize words in the process.

People with learning disabilities may need a wide range of therapies. Children, in particular, may require more one on one attention during class or tutoring. Even with therapy, however, learning disabilities might not go away entirely. Because many are biological or genetic, some people are just programmed to learn differently than others. However, yoga can help those afflicted to accept their impairment and gain strength by removing the focus from their disabilities and placing it on their abilities.

About us: TWISTED is a medical yoga studio at the Center for Osteopathic Medicine in Boulder, Colorado. Twisted integrates osteopathic medicine, Hatha yoga and mindfulness practices to teach optimal balance between physical, mental, and emotional health. It aims to educate and help people to live a healthy life from the inside out. Rehabilitation programs offer a comprehensive treatment regime for the whole being, empowering each person one breath at a time to stimulate the body’s natural healing potential.

Jennifer Jordan is senior editor of http://www.yogatwisted.com . Specializing in articles that not only teach yoga techniques, but also teach techniques on fulfillment and enrichment, she aims to educate students proudly enrolled in the school of life.

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