Ashrams for Autism currently provides yoga programs in ten locations serving participants ranging from children to young adults throughout New Jersey and New York. Since its launch, Ashrams for Autism has taught more than 5,500 yoga classes to 28,000 individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. In the past three years, we've seen exponential growth in our reach, growing from 400 classes per year to over 1,900.
Benefits of Yoga for Individuals with Autism
Individuals with autism have very different sensory experiences from other people, and these responses often cause their bodies to get stuck in fight, flight, or freeze modes that divert blood from the digestive organs to the skeletal muscles. This activity results in disrupted digestion, increased heart rate, and shallower breathing—all of which readily provoke anxiety.
In addition to benefits typically associated with yoga—improved strength and flexibility, and an increasing sense of peace—autistic individuals also experience a reduction of pain, anxiety, aggression, obsessive behaviors, and self-stimulatory activities. Individuals may also have greater success making new friends and regulating emotions.
An October 2012 study published in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy comparing children with autism who did yoga each day at school compared to kids who followed a typical routine instead, those who participated in the stretching exercises exhibited significantly less aggressive behavior, social withdrawal and hyperactivity.*
We believe in the healing attributes that yoga has to offer and have seen the effects first-hand with the autistic community.
*Efficacy of the Get Ready to Learn Yoga Program Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pretest–Posttest Control Group Design, published in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Oct. 2012. Authors: Kristie Patten Koenig; Anne Buckley-Reen; Satvika Garg