This pose (Figure 2.38) stretches the inner legs and hips. It also helps to stretch and elongate the spine and relax the whole torso. Although the movement is simple, the pose may be intense. The bending forward motion over the legs may feel stressful to many children, especially children who are not particularly active.
This pose, like Seated Forward Bend Pose, is also very calming when the head and torso are bent over the legs. Your child may use this pose and Seated Forward Bend to reduce anxiety. Feel free to encourage him to do this pose when feeling stressed during the day.
Like Seated Forward Bend Pose, this pose may be more difficult than it looks. Children with ASDs may be uncomfortable with the stretch in the inner thigh and groin area. We suggest that you remind your child that he should not force his body towards the floor. Additionally, remind him to tune into his body and listen to what it is "saying" to him. Explain to him that although the body cannot use words to speak, it communicates to our mind in other ways, such as with pain, anxiety, and feeling uncomfortable. Many people tend to ignore their bodies.
This pose may give your child the opportunity to feel what is happening in his legs, spine, and the rest of his body. You may mention this idea to him to begin the process of having him become aware of his body's feelings, and needs. If he can learn to care for his physical self, he can learn to alleviate stress and anxiety. Yoga can be an important part of his learning to take care of his body.
1. Sit at the back of your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
2. Spread your legs as far apart as is comfortable into a straddle position. Do not reach the point of pain. You will feel a little stretch in the legs, but not too much discomfort. Your flexibility will increase over time.
3. Raise your arms over your head and take a deep breath while stretching upward.
4. Slowly begin to lower your torso in the middle of your spread legs. When you feel that you have lowered your torso as much as possible, stop, and put your hands, forearms, or elbows on the floor, depending on the extent of your flexibility.
5. Expand your chest and spine outward. It is more important to have your chest expand and lengthen than it is to be able to put your head on the floor. Take care not to round the neck into the chest to attempt to reach lower to the floor.
6. If you cannot reach your forearms or elbows to the floor, keep your arms straight and press your palms into the floor (Figure 2.39).
7. Take several deep breaths and allow yourself to feel your inner legs stretching and releasing.
8. When you are finished with your breathing push up through your arms and bring your torso upright. With your hands around your thighs, slowly push your legs together and gently shake them to release the stretch.
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