How yoga helps kids with special needs

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CYPRESS, Texas – We Rock the Spectrum has five locations in our area. It's a sensory gym that first started for children with autism. Now, it's expanded to all kids and all abilities.

We Rock the Spectrum in Cypress finds its “story time yoga” class is benefiting kids' development.

“It's not really yoga that most of adults have seen before - it's kid yoga!” said instructor Leslie Bates. “We move around the room like animals, or like cars, or whatever our book is about.”

They build focus, muscle memory and motor skills by imitating movements of animals or vehicles in their story book.

“The little guy that has braces on his feet wasn't ready to stand on them and hold this whole body weight on it, but if [mom] is helping him and holding his trunk up and helping him move his, he was ready to move his feet,” Bates said. “So, he was ready to move a little bit but he wasn't holding his whole body weight yet.”

That kind of exercise is critical to kids with physical disabilities just like the socializing and movement is beneficial for kids with behavioral needs.

Bates makes it fun for all kids, so all are welcome. They jump like frogs, flutter like butterflies or stretch up and down like giraffes. When one kid starts to get the hang of the movement, other kids quickly follow.

“A lot of it is social development. So, we're talking about our bodies and stretching our bodies a lot. We're doing a little bit of exercise during that time too but a lot of it is just playing and fun,” Bates said. ‘We want them to have fun, so a lot of it is just figuring out their language ability, of course, a lot of them aren't talking yet but some of them are talking a little bit and some of them are talking perfectly fine so it just depends on what's happening that day.”

It’s like a fun version of physical therapy for some.

“Your muscle movements and your memory in your muscles is really important at this age too,” Bates said. “So, a lot of times we’re just asking the parents to work on exercises too and just play.”

Classes are held Monday and Wednesday mornings in Cypress.