The goal of a sensory diet is to incorporate movement and sensory based activities throughout the day in order to promote regulation. Each sensory diet includes activities, designed by an occupational therapist, to provide input throughout the day to alert, calm, and organize the sensory systems. As adults, we have found ways to incorporate this type of input into our daily lives in a natural way. You may go to the gym after work, chew a stick of gum on a long car ride, or find yourself in a yoga class to relax and unwind at the end of the day. All of these activities are forms of sensory input you use to self regulate. Consider yoga tips for sensory regulation for children who will benefit from sensory integration strategies all day long.
The blend of sensory integration strategies and yoga techniques creates a natural sensory diet for children and adults. Through yoga poses, we find core sensory input though proprioceptive (input to the joints) and vestibular input (movement of the inner ear fluid). The use of breathing techniques, sensory based poses or sequences, and relaxation strategies provide key ingredients for regulation when designing a sensory diet.
Sensory diet activities are often changed or adapted as each child has a unique set of sensory needs which vary from day to day. The following are a few ideas to add a yoga flare to your sensory diet at home and at school.
Yoga Tips for Sensory Regulation at the Start of the Day
Place a hand on the belly. Inhale through the nose feeling the belly rise up. Then, exhale through the nose feeling the belly fall back down. A few rounds of this simple breathing will help the body slowly wake up from a restful sleep.
While still in bed have your child stretch to wake up the muscles.
Inhale: Reach arms high above you and stretch legs and feet.
Exhale: Let your body relax. Repeat this stretch a few times and you will feel you body warm up.
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Yoga Tips for Sensory Regulation during the School Day
Balancing and calming, this is a form of breathing can be used at any time of day. Using this strategy prior to a test can help to clear the mind of stress and extra thoughts.
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A simple seated yoga pose that can be done to take a break from school work.
Linking the breath while twisting will help wake up the body and mind while providing and outlet for movement in a structured setting.
Yoga Tips for Sensory Regulation to Wrap Up the School Day
This is a series of yoga poses designed to link movement with breath while warming up the body. Through this yoga sequence you can provide a controlled outlet for the naturally built up energy from the school day. The yoga poses found within this sequence are filled with both proprioceptive and vestibular input to increases body awareness as well as regulation.
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Play a Yoga Game
Using yoga pose pictures, you can create a simple game to provide a controlled sensory break for your child. Place a few cards on the ground, have your child toss a bean bag on a desired card, and then demonstrate the pose found on the card. Each pose contains elements of sensory input that will provide a great sensory break for your child.
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Yoga Tips for Sensory Regulation to Prepare for Bed
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Tension and release of individual muscle groups prior to bed will provide input to the muscles creating increase body awareness and organization prior to bed time. In a yoga class, this would prepare the body for Savasana. For a sensory diet, it will prepare the body for rest or sleep.
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Taking your own yoga class or finding a kids yoga class for your child can help you to explore new yoga techniques to use in your daily routine. Breathing and moving are what sets yoga apart from other forms of exercise and create the regulatory and relaxing feelings we enjoy after a class.
Giving your child the time to move and breathe will add great benefits to their natural sensory diet.