Occupational Therapists are the heroes that encourage and support our youth to fully participate in actives required for daily life and learning.
Although this blog post is directed towards sensory integration goals written and performed by Occupational Therapists, the information is helpful for all adults working with a wide variety of youth.
Sensory integration exposes children to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive way. Here we break down how the poses in our Move Mindfully Card Deck can be utilized in this process. As a Blog Bonus, we are offering a free download of three poses from the Move Mindfully Card Deck to get you started with a simple routine. Read on to learn more about each pose and how it relates to your Occupational Therapy goals.
Getting into the Pose:
Belly Breathing is often taught with the Hoberman Sphere. The brightly colored, collapsible tool offers a visual tracking point to feel the diaphragm expand and contract. However, hands can simply be placed at heart and belly when teaching belly breathing as well. To start, we recommend a seated position in a chair, for back support. As a modification, this pose can also be completed laying on the floor. In this position, try a small object or toy placed on the belly for extra visualization of the up and down movement.
Belly breathing is a great way to work on postural stability while maintaining an upright position without a collapsed trunk or slouched shoulders. This pose also taps into interoception and body awareness as breathing is tracked.
Getting Into the Pose:
Tree Pose is an introductory balancing pose that all body abilities can enjoy. We start by cueing the heel to touch the ankle. As balancing progresses, the foot can be placed on the calf or thigh. However, make sure to avoid any pressure on the knee joint. The hands press together at midline, palm to palm, providing additional input.
Like belly breathing, this pose works postural stability through core activation in a static hold. It also works on bilateral coordination as hands and feet press towards midline while maintaining balance and focus. The stacking of joints over the anchored foot (ankles, hips, wrists) taps into the proprioceptive system. If you need additional proprioceptive input in this pose, try stamping feet before attempting to hold static. Activate the vestibular system by experimenting with the foot and hand placement.. Also, try small movement, such as swaying, within the pose. Work on vision by providing various focal points experimenting with gaze up, out, down and even eyes closed. If you see the MORO Reflex in this pose, return to Belly Breathing.
Getting Into the Pose:
Child’s pose is often used at the beginning or the end of a session. However, it can be used whenever there is a need to decrease overstimulation. It can be completed on the floor or at a table.
As you cue stacked fists, you are working on bilateral coordination and proprioception as joints are stacked together at midline. On the floor, there is the additional tactile input from the legs and arms on the Earth. Seekers may need to rock, or add extra movement to the pose, while avoiders may have to stay more upright. Offer a vestibular system modification of seating in a chair, hands stacked on forehead and chin slightly tucked.
Have you used the poses from the Move Mindfully Card Deck into your work with sensory integration? Leave a Comment!
Special thanks to Johanna and Katie from Ka’Hanna Health and Wellness for their collaboration. Ka’Hanna Health and Wellness is a company providing resources for occupational therapy, physical therapy, mental health practitioners, classroom teachers, yoga teachers, professionals, parents, and others in the community to use with individuals who can be found seeking and/or avoiding yoga activities.