Triangle Pose (Figure 2.19) is the first standing pose that strengthens the legs and opens the hips. It also lengthens the torso and the spine. Over time, Triangle Pose may increase flexibility of the entire body, and increase strength in the lower body. This pose may also bring a feeling of lightness and openness to the entire body. Your child is taught to think about his legs pushing into the floor while his arm is reaching toward the ceiling.
Children with ASDs sometimes have difficulty orienting their body to the environment. Triangle Pose, with the arms and legs reaching from the torso, makes your child begin to be aware of his body space in the external environment. This pose also helps to open the chest allowing for deeper breathing.
Triangle Pose may look intimidating. You will need to guide your child into the pose initially, as opposed to only modeling the pose. You may need to help extend his arm upward as he may not have the arm strength to do this independently. Additionally, you may use a stool as a modification until he gains flexibility in the hips and legs. You can have your child visualize their body looking like a triangle. You may then demonstrate the pose to show how the body does look like a triangle. He may become so interested in how he may "look like a triangle" that he will concentrate on this image instead of any fatigue he may feel in his muscles.
In addition, you can instruct him to think about his legs pressing into the earth and his arms extending to the sky. Using these muscles will help him remain stable and strong in the torso to maintain balance.
2. Turn on the mat, spreading your legs about three feet apart. Your feet should point straight ahead and should be in a straight line.
3. Turn your right foot out ninety degrees and your left foot in about forty-five degrees. The arch of your left foot should be in line with your right heel.
4. Extend your arms out to the sides at about shoulder height. Reach strongly through the arms.
5. Keeping your legs straight, slowly begin to bend forward over your right thigh while reaching your right hand to your knee, shin, and ankle. Over time, as you gain flexibility, you will be able to extend your right hand further down the right leg.
6. As a modification, reach your right hand to a stool positioned at your side to lean on.
7. Reach your left hand to the sky and feel your arm stretch upward. Feel your chest expand and open.
8. You may relax your neck and look forward. Or, if it feels comfortable for you, slowly begin to look upwards towards your left hand. As you inhale, think about pushing through your legs and pushing your feet into the floor. As you exhale, think about stretching your left hand to the sky
9. Hold this position for three to five breaths. As a modification, your child my hold the pose for as little as one breath. He will still feel the benefits of the pose.
10. To come out of the pose, use your legs for strength and bring your body upright. Slowly put your arms down. Keeping your feet spread apart, take a deep inhalation and exhalation (cleansing breath). Repeat the entire pose on the left side.
11. When finished, step back into Mountain Pose.
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