Key Benefits of Yoga for Improving Speech and Learning
By Christine Ristuccia, M.S. CCC-SLP,
Speech Pathologist Entrepreneur
I work at a school as a speech language pathologist with children who have stuttering problems, difficulty producing their sounds or are unable to express themselves due to lack of vocabulary or understanding what others say to them.
When the kids first walk into my room before doing yoga, they are full of energy, so it’s challenging for them to sit down in a chair, focus and learn the lesson for the day.
I can sense their frenetic energy as they sit at the table. Instead of starting the lesson and having to stop due to fidgeting and frenetic energy, I incorporate four-to-five yoga moves which connect breath with movement and cross the midline of the body (e.g. right arm crosses over the left arm). Research has shown that crossing the midline of the body with movement helps to coordinate the two hemispheres (sides) of the brain and that the two sides begin to work together in a synergistic manner.
Another benefit of doing yoga in a learning environment is that yoga moves incorporate knowledge of basic directional concepts such as right and left, up and down. Kids who have challenges with learning these concepts required for following verbally presented instructions in the classroom greatly benefit from learning through yoga.
Following a series of five yoga moves combined with mindful breathing, I decided to interview the students. The general consensus was that after yoga their brains felt ready to learn, whereas before, they were not.
I have noticed a profound difference in my student’s ability to focus, understand and respond to their speech therapy lessons before and after yoga. I’ve seen a difference even after only three-to-five minutes of combining breath with movement.