Yoga creates calm for children with autism

Autistic children who have trouble relaxing are finding peace through “pretzel” and “superman.”

These yoga poses and a dozen others, performed in sequence each day at Coconut Creek Elementary School, offer students in the school’s autism classes a way to calm themselves when the stresses of life — such as loud noises in the cafeteria¸ bright classroom lights or a skinned knee — agitate them.

“It helps me when my back hurts,” said River Zartler, 10. “We lay down on our mats and close our eyes.”

Louise Goldberg, a yoga teacher and one of the founders of the program, known as S.T.O.P. and Relax, hopes upcoming academic studies prove her theory that special-needs students learn self-pacifying techniques through yoga that they can translate into their lives outside school.

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About Louise Goldberg, MA, ERYT

Louise Goldberg, MA, ERYT 500, a certified yoga teacher since 1981, is founder of Creative Relaxation® and owner of Relaxation Now LLC. Louise is the author of Yoga Therapy for Children with Autism and Special Needs, published by Norton Professional Books in August, 2013, and co-author of S.T.O.P. and Relax© 2006, Your Special Needs Yoga Toolbox. Her DVD Creative Relaxation® Yoga for Children© 2004 features children with ASD. She was also published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy in 2004 for her work with yoga in schools for general ed and ESE students.

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