Boat Pose (Figure 2.32) strengthens the upper and lower back muscles. It also opens the chest and continues the back bending process begun in Sphinx Pose. More muscle strength is needed in Boat Pose than Sphinx Pose. It may take your child a while to be able to lift his chest and legs off the floor.
This pose will get your child familiar with using the back muscles, so the amount of height that he achieves in the pose is not relevant. This pose will release tension that is accumulated in the spine and shoulders.
Boat Pose, like Sphinx Pose, may cause anxiety at first because it exposes the chest and heart, and may cause many emotions to arise. You may explain to him that feelings of anxiety or fear are common when doing backbends, but that the anxiety will lessen as the body gets more used to moving in this way.
This pose is also a good way to demonstrate to your child that the body is very adaptable. Through these and other poses, as the body becomes familiar with moving in previously unfamiliar ways, your child can learn to control both the physical and emotional aspects of his body. This realization may help him learn techniques to help with his symptoms throughout the day.
At first, it is hard for many children to get their heads or legs off the floor. Sometimes they can just clasp their arms behind them and try to lift themselves up without being able to lift their head and legs. They are sometimes discouraged. Let your child know that this pose can be difficult. Additionally, you can tell him that any amount of lifting would "get his boat out of the water" and his arms clasping behind him is like raising the "boat" enough to keep it afloat.
The boat image helps children to visualize what movement their bodies are supposed to make. Children with ASDs make progress in this pose, which is encouraging because many have low muscle tone in their lower back and abdominal muscles. Tell your child that it is important in this pose to keep trying and practicing it consistently. He will then feel results that he may have never expected.
1. Lay on your belly with your arms by your sides and your body relaxed. Take a deep breath.
3. Gently pull your clasped hands back toward your buttocks and raise your chest off the floor. You will feel your back muscles all along your spine being used.
4. At the same time, extend your legs out from the body and raise them off the floor. The lift of the legs does not have to be high. Your child should be told to visualize his legs reaching to the back wall.
5. The legs should be as close together as possible. If this is uncomfortable, leave your legs apart, but not more than one foot apart.
6. Lifting the arms and legs should occur simultaneously. However, if your child is not strong enough to do this at first, have him lift his arms toward his buttocks and let his legs stay on the floor (Figure 2.33).
7. Try to hold the pose for three breaths.
8. Release and then rest in Child's Pose.
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