Addressing Autism Spectrum Disorder through Yoga as a Complementary Therapy
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by restricted, repetitive activities and impaired social interaction. Its severity varies from individual to individual. Yoga, a mind–body intervention is often used as a complementary approach to enhance mental equipoise and focus and can be performed by all including those with acute or chronic painful disabilities. The emotional impact is difficult and devastating for people with autism and their families/caregivers. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) should be regarded simply as ‘different’ rather than ‘disordered’; as they may have no speech or may have other complexities needing full-time care. Yogic techniques for ASD such as basic Jathis and Kriyas help to improve flexibility, Asanas work increase muscles and joints circulation and physical functioning becomes more integrated and less stressful. Pranayama and Asanas work hand-in-hand to balance and integrate different physiological functions, dissolve emotional blockages and negative habitual patterns. Yoga harmonises mind-body-emotion complex building up, helps to develop social relationships, promotes positive outlook, self-confidence and selfsufficiency. It also improves loco-motor skills, psycho-motor coordination, eye-hand coordination, attention span, immunity, appetite, sleep and promotes overall health. Regular practice reduces hyperactivity, aggression and dependency of drugs along with reduction in negative traits and tendencies to cause injury to self and others. In conclusion, yoga is an experiential science (Anubuthi Shastra) which can be used as a supplemental therapy for ASD.