Yoga is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance speech, language, and
communication development in children.
Talk Yoga(TM) was designed by Speech Pathologists and Yoga Teachers to integrate yoga movements with speech and language developmental milestones. Little yogis learn innovative articulation poses to address speech development while having fun! Your little one will move and play while learning how to express themselves and boost their confidence. Classes are offered one on one as well as in group formats. Brooke Andrews, M.A CCC-SLP is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher and Certified Talk Yoga instructor. These classes are also offered via teletherapy.
Learn more about Talk Yoga (TM) here
How does yoga boost speech and language?
Yoga is a body based activity that combines breath, movement, and mindfulness. Speech production happens when we move breath through our voice box and it is shaped by our articulators (parts of our mouth). Breath is the very foundation of speech. Without awareness of breath, it is hard to teach a child how to articulate, project, interact, respond, etc. For this reason, yoga and speech go hand in hand.
Yoga is also a wonderful medium for teaching other aspects of speech and language development, including language acquisition, vocabulary development, play skills, social skills, self-regulation, and emergent literacy. The Speech Dynamic has combined yoga techniques with speech and language development to develop unique programs for children. These program Brooke’s training as a children’s yoga teacher with her expertise in speech and language development.
Concepts related to vocabulary development, literacy, and listening skills can all be embedded into the session in a meaningful and enraging way. Yoga is the perfect context for working on language! By mapping words onto movements, children learn vocabulary and concepts in a multi-sensory way, which promotes long-term learning.
Respiration is the foundation of speech. Yoga enables children to become mindful about their breathing. Yoga breathing can support speech production by 1) enhancing awareness of the breath 2) strengthening and elongating trunk muscles for appropriate postural alignment 3) improving control over the respiratory cycle, 4 )increasing the oxygen supply necessary for proper functionign of the body (and brain) ( Fitzpatrick and Longtin, 2017).
Furthermore, children with apraxia of speech may benefit from yoga. Childhood apraxia of speech is an impairment in the precision and consistency of movements for speech in the absence of nueromuscular deficits (ASHA, 2007). The performance of yoga poses, breathing exercises, and chants presents children apraxia to the opportunity to practice and master the motor planning, programming, and execution of sequenced movements
Yoga supports self-regulation. When children go into “fight or flight,” their brains shut down for learning. When our body and mind are in a relaxed state, we have the best potential for learning and and retaining information. Giving children the tools calm down and self-regulate from a young age supports their learning and helps them handle difficult situations. Through breathing exercises and child friendly meditations and visualizations, children can learn how to relax and calm their bodies. Focusing on breathing can help calm and relax children’s bodies and minds, especially those with ADHD, positively impacting language learning.
Play Skills and Social Skills
Yoga provides a context for children to practice their play skills, specifically their symbolic play skills, in which one object stands for another. As children pretend to be an insect or a rainstorm, they are using their bodies to pretend they are something else. This is a skills that coincides with language development.
During our theme-based yoga classes,children engage in shared imagination. Sharing an imagination an important skills for the cooperative play that emerges around 4-5 years old. Yoga is a wonderful medium for learning skills such as sharing space, taking turns, and controlling our bodies. Lessons such as kindness, friendship, and gratitude are infused throughout our classes.
Emergent literacy refers to the reading and writing knowledge and skills that precede and lay the foundation for conventional literacy (Teale & Sulzby, 1986).Yoga classes are language-rich contexts, which can enhance both oral and written language development (Fitzpatrick & Longtin, 2017). Books can easily be incorporated into yoga session, which can increase phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and print awareness, all of which are highly correlated with later literacy development.