Stick Pose

This is the first seated pose (Figure 2.35) and it is not too strenuous. It is a very effective pose for getting your child in touch with his body. This pose will lift and open the chest, firm the legs, and align the spine. It helps him to feel centered and restful, although it is an active pose. It is important to keep the arms pressing down into the mat and to keep the feet active to bring energy into the pose. Children often have difficulty in believing this is actually an active pose.

In practicing this pose, often children just want to hunch over themselves. We suggest explaining that your child should be like a stick: straight and tall. We also suggest telling your child that the body should be working hard at being aware, awake, and alive, even though it may look like the body is at rest. Since they may have low muscle tone, children with ASDs are often not very comfortable sitting in Stick Pose. Therefore, do not expect your child to hold the pose for too long. Be careful not to expect your child to be able to hold this or any other position that to you, may seem effortless. In yoga, all poses, even the still ones, require effort.

1. Come onto the back of your mat in a seated position.

2. Stretch your legs out in front of you. The feet should be flexed and the legs should be firm.

3. Your arms should be at your side with your palms pressing into the mat. With the feet flexed and the hands pressing, lift the chest and take several breaths.

4. Your gaze should be straight ahead with your eyes relaxed while taking these breaths.

5. It is helpful to think of your body as a "stick," strong and straight.

6. Feel your spine lifting out of the hips to elongate the back muscles. Breathe deeply to get oxygen into the cells of the muscles.

7. After three deep breaths, relax the pose and continue with the next pose.

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