Over the last several years, yoga has become an increasingly popular activity to do with your children. There are many well-known health and motor benefits of yoga activities for children, but did you also know that you can use yoga to improve your child’s speech and language skills? You can!! Here are some great yoga speech therapy activities that use yoga to work on communication skills that your child will love! These are great for home practice or during speech therapy in a school or clinic.
Speech Sound Skills
Is your child working to learn a new sound? You can practice that sound while you are holding yoga poses! When children are engaged in a motor activity while learning or practicing a new skill, more areas of the brain are activated, leading to a greater chance that the child will retain the skill. I also find that the children I work with are more likely to stick with the task for a longer period of time if we are doing yoga poses at the same time (as opposed to sitting at a table and repeating a sound or word until we’re blue in the face). The yoga poses make it more fun!
How I Use It for Yoga Speech Therapy:
First, I get out some yoga cards or a sheet of yoga poses (see the resources at the bottom of this post for ideas on how to do this). Then, I allow the child to choose one pose to do first. I help the child get into that pose and then while he/she is holding the pose, I have the child say the sound he is working on as many times as he can. If the child can already say the sound by itself, I give him a word or sentence to practice that contains that sound. Then, the child gets to choose a new pose and we practice the sound again or a different word with the sound. My students love this and we get way more repetitions in than if we were sitting at the table or playing a game while practicing.
Listening Skills/Following Directions
Yoga speech therapy is a great way to work on listening skills with children! You can practice each pose with your child ahead of time and then once they have learned some, give them directions about which pose(s) to get into. If your child struggles with one-step directions, just tell them one pose to get into. If your child is working on following multi-step directions, ask them to do 2-3 poses in a row. You can use pictures of the poses to help them remember the order, but once they get better, hide the pictures so they have to use their auditory memory to follow the directions.
How I Use It for Yoga Speech Therapy:
First, I get out some pictures of yoga poses (each on a separate page or card). Then, I choose a pose and ask the child to do it (ex: “Joe, show me the tree”). When we’re first starting off, I show them the picture while I give the direction. Once they can do this with the picture, I hide the picture and help them practice doing it by just listening to me. Then, when they are successful with that (which may take several weeks of practice for some children), I move up to giving them two poses to do (ex: “Joe, first show me the tree, then show me the dog”). Just like with one-step, I start by showing them the pictures (in order) and then fade to no pictures once they can do it.
You can work on your child’s vocabulary skills with yoga speech therapy as well! Many yoga poses (especially ones designed for children) are named after real objects. You can find pictures of those real objects and have your child tell you what they are called. Then, after they name them, say “We’re going to pretend to be a ___” and show the child the yoga pose. Keep saying the name of the pose as you do it so they will get many opportunities to hear and remember the name of that object. Plus, they will love getting to pretend like that object.
How I Do It for Yoga Speech Therapy:
First, I find poses with names that represent real objects, such as tree, cat, cow, dog, bug, boat, triangle, pretzel, etc. You can even give new names to poses that don’t sound like real things. Then, I find real pictures of those objects (the book mentioned below, My Daddy is a Pretzel, is great for this!). I show the children the picture and ask them to tell me what it’s called. If they can’t remember, I help them. Then, I say, “Now let’s pretend to be a tree!” and I show them the picture of the yoga pose. Then, I help them get into that pose and we talk about how we’re pretending to be a tree (or whatever other pose we’re doing).
Yoga Speech Therapy Resources
Christine Ristuccia’s Article on How Speech and Yoga Go Together:
How You Can Do Yoga Speech Therapy For Free:
You can do these yoga speech therapy activities at home without paying a dime. Just go online and do a google image search for “Children’s Yoga Poses”. You will find many pictures of adorable children holding various yoga poses. Simple copy the pictures from google and paste them into a word document or other program. You may want to also write down the name of the pose if you find it on the website that the picture is from. Once you have a collection of fun poses, print them off and use them for the activities above.
Great Products to Make Yoga Speech Therapy Easier:
There are many products out there designed to help you do yoga with your children. Here are a few that I have used and LOVE! Follow my links (from the title or the picture) to go to amazon if you’re interested in buying.
This is a deck of large cards with great yoga poses for kids. The thing I LOVE about these cards is that on the back there are picture-instructions on how to do each pose. It breaks the pose down into four very manageable steps on how to get your body into that pose. It is very user friendly and will make any parent into a yoga pro!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!! This book tells the story of a classroom that is discussing what their parents do for a living. For each profession that is mentioned, there is a yoga pose on the next page that goes with it. This is a great way to label a real object before you do the pose because each page in the story has a picture of the object that you are about to do the pose for. This book goes through quite a few poses and has a story to go with it. This makes reading and yoga fun!! I highly recommend it.