The Benefits of Yoga and Massage for Autism

Incorporating and adhering to a yoga practice can bring about many health benefits to any and it can be especially beneficial for those living with autism (ASD).

ASD affects communication, social skills, and ability to focus. Some medications offered to aid in reducing behavioral issues such as aggressiveness and irritability can come at a price of unwanted side effects. For this reason, families of individuals with autism have looked to alternative therapies in hopes of increasing social skills, ability to focus and communication, without the potential of severe side effects.

Two of these alternatives include yoga and massage, and are both under the CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) domain. These are wonderful ways to promote health and wellness.

Yoga, a type of movement therapy, emphasizes attention on the mind-body connection and the flow of breath. As participants learn and practice self-control in postures and breathing techniques throughout the class, it gives them the ability to use those methods of self-control in other aspects of their day-to-day lives when they begin to feel their emotions or anxiety levels escalating. Yoga has also shown to increase GABA, (the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for sending messages within the brain and nervous system), levels in the brain even after just one yoga class. With GABA levels considered to be a major contributor to the development of autism. Yoga is an excellent therapy for ASD.

Massage therapy is another wonderful CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) to incorporate and routinely partake in for those living with ASD. Massage therapy has shown to help in the reduction of anxiety and sensory hypo/hypersensitivity. It encourages relaxation and receiving and giving of affection. A study showed that parents who incorporated 15 minutes of massage therapy a day led to children who exhibited better social relatedness and a reduced amount of stereotypical behavior.

Both of these forms of alternative medicine warrant a host of wonderful benefits, while eliminating the potential of unwanted side effects of harsh medications.

Next: The Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids for Autism