Tree Pose (Figure 2.29) is a balancing pose that continues to strengthen the legs. After coming into the pose, the idea is to find a point in front of you and gaze at this point, to help you maintain your balance. This pose requires concentration, and can help a child with an ASD learn to focus and connect to his body. The pose itself is not too physically challenging for most children. However, the balancing aspect usually produces some anxiety.
Your child may be afraid he will fall and get hurt. He may not want to take the time and mental focus necessary to try to balance. As with the previous poses, the benefit to the pose is in the attempt as well as the length of time that the pose is held, so proceed slowly and encourage him. Eventually he will gain balance.
Additionally, reassure him that lots of people fall initially in this pose. He will not get hurt if he loses his balance. If he is receptive, you may point out that practicing Tree Pose is a lot like life. Sometimes you will fall, but the important thing
is to keep getting up until you are successful. Your child can be instructed to think of an image of a tree when coming into this pose. He may worry about falling down, getting hurt, and being embarrassed and feeling stupid because he fell. Reassure him that he is safe.
He may envision himself bending like a tree to try to keep balanced. However, if he does fall, remind him that falling is something that all people do at some time in their life and is not a cause for embarrassment.
1. Come to the front of the mat in Mountain Pose and take a deep breath.
2. Keeping yourself as straight as possible, bend the right leg and place the foot as high on the thigh as possible. Your entire foot should be pressing into your left leg.
3. As a modification, if you cannot bring your foot onto your thigh, bring your foot near your knee. If even this movement is impossible, keep the feet in Mountain Pose and continue to step four.
4. Slowly raise your arms over your head and gaze softly forward, maintaining your balance. If possible, your hands should be touching, with the fingers and thumb interlaced and the index fingers touching and pointing towards the sky. If you cannot touch your hands together, keep them shoulder width apart over your head. Keep your torso steady and elongate your arms to the sky (Figure 2.30).
5. If you cannot raise your arms over your head, concentrate on balancing using your legs. Leave your arms at your sides.
6. Try to maintain your balance by gazing at a point in front of you. If possible, hold this pose for three breaths. If you fall, you may try again. Do not feel too concerned ifyou cannot balance. Balancing is a skill that may be learned over time.
7. After you are finished with the right side, bring your leg down and then release your arms to your sides. Repeat on the other side.
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