Occupational Therapists and Move Mindfully®

Occupational Therapists support our youth to fully participate in actives required for daily life and learning.

This blog post addresses sensory integration goals written and performed by Occupational Therapists. However, all youth can benefit from sensory integration awareness.

Sensory integration exposes children to sensory stimulation in a structured, repetitive way. In this blog post we break down how certain yoga based movements can be utilized, and 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.

Belly Breathing

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. If you do not have a ball, try modeling hands placed at heart and belly. To start, we recommend a seated position in a chair, for back support. As a modification, youth may prefer to lay on the floor on their backs. In this position, try a small object or toy placed on the belly for extra visualization of the up and down movement.

Therapy Resource:

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.

More on Belly Breathing

Tree Pose

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. From here, you can cue the leg higher, resting the foot on the calf or thigh. (Just make sure to avoid any pressure on the knee joint.) The hands press together at midline, palm to palm, providing additional input.

Therapy Resource:

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. We like offering students that option to stamp their feet before getting into the pose. Activate the vestibular system by experimenting with the foot and hand placement. Add in a small movement, like swaying, by pretending a wind comes by and makes the branches sway! 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.

More on Tree Pose

Child’s Pose

Getting Into the Pose:

We love using child’s pose as a transition at the beginning or the end of a session. Also, the benefits of this pose can be utilized throughout a session any time there is a need to decrease stimulation. We will often use the Head on Desk version (pictured left), but youth can also find traditional child’s pose on the floor.

Therapy Resource:

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. Youth needing extra input can include movement and rock back and forth. Youth avoiders can stay more upright and simply lower their chins. Offer a vestibular system modification of seating in a chair, hands stacked on forehead and chin slightly tucked.

More on Child’s Pose

Have you used the poses from the Move Mindfully® Card Deck into your work with sensory integration? Leave a Comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

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.

3 replies
  1. Shauna Bell
    Shauna Bell says:

    OT + yoga calm is my daily jam! Best mash up ever!
    Favorite part of my days as a school OT are my mindful movement sessions!

  2. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Thank you for the information! It is absolutely incredible how yoga can truly improve children’s lives! Keep it up! I will keep reading and learning.

  3. Katie Novak
    Katie Novak says:

    I work with kids who have a lot of complex trauma. So much of my day is spent on regulation of the child but then I send them home where often families are also in need of regulation. I love being able to bring parents into my sessions and having my kids teach their caregivers deep breathing and other poses that will help calm everyone. It empowers my clients, gives the family something that can be done together, and hopefully helps maintain regulation while at home.


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