Yoga for Autism

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Autism Academy of South Carolina in Columbia has created a new yoga class.

The goal of this class is to find mindfulness and relaxation in those individuals with hyperactive brains. (Photo Courtesy: NBC)

The goal of the class is to find mindfulness and relaxation in those individuals with hyperactive brains.

Some yoga pros out there may have a favorite pose, but Eitan has three.

"It's the downward dog or the tree. Or the boat," Eitan says.

Nevermind the reality that standing and sitting at the same time isn't physically possible, Eitan says you're just not trying hard enough.

"Ah I bet you could," Eitan said.

Cue the "downward dog, boat, tree pose", and voila, you have yoga.

But, for a child like Eitan, who has high-functioning autism, that same yoga practice may look and feel different.

"Good for your brain. Good for things like if you're stressed you get them all out," Eitan said.

An autism diagnosis generally comes with a variety of other mental and physical issues, which include attention deficit problems and anxiety.

The benefits of yoga include stress management, increased attention and mindfulness.

A little breathing and a lot of movement created a sort of magic for kids at the Autism Academy of South Carolina.

"Usually they're very rambunctious, and for the first time in a while they were very calm, they really seemed to enjoy it," says Director of Psychology Dr. Allison Brazendale.

The academy is piloting a yoga program beginning at Camp Mates this summer.

Camp Mates is a social skills, sports and nutrition camp for kids with social skills deficits, including ADHD and high-functioning autism.

"We focus on making and keeping friends, dealing with bullying, losing, sportsmanship and so on and so forth," Allison said.

For 35 minutes every day at Camp Mates, kids will learn yoga from an instructor certified specifically to work with children who have disabilities.

"It was beyond moving to see how much they were taking to it and how calm they were," Allison said.

And even if they're not ready to join the pros in downward dog, boat, tree pose, there's a safe space for everyone to begin.

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