How yoga improved my autistic symptoms

Picture of Nicole Niederman

Nicole Niederman.

When I was twenty-two months old, I was diagnosed with autism: a language and communication disorder. In the beginning of my life, I experienced belated milestone development, a slight inability to vocally communicate, and a social awkwardness to name a few of my symptoms. My parents and grandparents provided endless financial support for me to try many different therapies, some that worked and some didn’t. Because of all this I was lucky enough to gain higher-functioning skills to the point where I could seamlessly merge into the public school system without the aid of disability services or special education classes.

Despite my successful grades, my autism was secretly prominent. I found difficulty in reading the social cues of my peers and frequently made comments that were puzzling and, at times, brutally honest. I was victim to teasing and one-way friendships. I hardly made the effort to socialize with friends outside of school and opted to lock myself away in my room and play make-believe, write stories, or draw instead. On top of my social struggles, I had high anxiety about controlling certain things and erupted into meltdowns when I became frustrated. I was saddened by the unfair treatment from the other kids and many days I came home from school crying. I started to develop a toxic resentment towards my school mates. This torment continued until I was in tenth grade, when I felt that I needed to change something about myself in order to become more social and adaptable to the teenage world.

I had met with my yoga therapist, Ketna Shah, in a small yoga studio owned by a family friend in the fall of my sophomore year. I had originally intended to use yoga as a means to mend my slight scoliosis and possibly enhance my artistic skills. However, after visiting with Ketna and developing a steady home practice, I began to realize that yoga’s role was intended to relieve my social anxiety. Like most teenagers, I had difficulty committing to my home practice more than once a week (the one time being my weekly session with Ketna). Ketna would frown at me and repetitively say; “You must do your yoga every day. Do yoga and all good fortune will come!”

Adjusting the hour-long practice into my schedule became a challenge, but something inside of me yearned to persevere with the practice. When I committed to the practice and remained fully present, I noticed that I became more relaxed during the day. My mind was temporarily clear of ceaseless thoughts and the words that were more appropriate to say flowed out of my mouth more naturally. My anxiety also relinquished and I became more flexible with circumstances that did not go according to what I thought would happen. My creative fire ignited after a practice, allowing me to expand my ideas with my art and writing and become fully immersed in my creativity. But most importantly, my yoga practice got me more in touch with my body and connected me with my authentic self. Every day I practice, I learned a little bit more about the beautiful young woman I was meant to be. As a result, I set social goals for myself to become more outgoing and listened to my body’s cues to feel what actions were successful.

Today, I have blossomed into a very eloquent speaker with aspirations of becoming an illustrator and a creative writer. I have become so outgoing that I developed a reputation at my college for being friends with everyone. Hardly anyone can tell that I have high-functioning autism. I am approaching my fourth anniversary of taking yoga classes with Ketna. And I practice yoga as diligently as I possibly can, especially at five-thirty in the morning before my college classes. I continue with my practice because yoga has helped me with my social skills, my art, and my inner development. It has now become a truism with me that when I practice yoga, I do receive such pleasant fortune!

Nicole Niederman.

If you have questions concerning autism and yoga or want to explore Nicole’s art, please contact her at: nniede20 [AT] student.scad.edu.

Related: The Yoga Of Autism

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Yoga has made a big difference in my spirit!

Lady doing yoga
I will turn 65 next year. I feel good, but I can’t imagine how I would be feeling—much less how I will feel in the future—if yoga weren’t part of my life.

Though I had toyed with yoga when I was a young woman, low back pain sent me to yoga in a more serious way almost a decade ago. At that time, when I got out of the car after my 40+ minute drive to and from work, I would have to stand still for a while and let my body have some time to get ready to move. Yoga got rid of the “wad of chewing gum” I felt I had stuck in my low back. Then a still undefined pelvic imbalance began to cause me chronic mild pain, resulting in many sleepless nights. I tried chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture, and many creams, lotions and pain relievers. An even more regular yoga practice of a slightly different kind has made a world of difference.

I know that the aging body will continue to pose (pardon the pun!) many challenges, but I believe that regular yoga and walking will help my body stay as strong and flexible as possible.

Yoga has also made a big difference in my spirit, my personal serenity. I’ve struggled with a somewhat volatile temper at times in my life, and I confess that I have been impatient and quick to judge. I continue struggle to ward off anxiety. Asana, pranayama, and meditation are tools that still, quiet, and calm me. That may be the greatest benefit of all.

This story was submitted by KC who lives in Colorado and prefers to remain anonymous. Please do not hesitate to share your stories as this will help inspire others. If you want to keep your stories anonymous we will honor that request.

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Larry Sherman loses 350+ pounds using yoga!

Larry Sherman shows off his reduction in size

Larry Sherman

Larry Sherman lost 350 pounds with the help of yoga! This is an inspiring story that illustrates the power of yoga. You can use yoga to dissolve the knot that is creating an unhealthy relationship between you and your food.

Yoga can help you take responsibility and help you to take control of your life. It does this by helping you calm down. Once the mind-body system calms down you can deal with some of the anger and pain and wade through your emotions to get to your own role in what is happening. Once this happens you can dissolve many internal knots and take charge of your life.

You can find Larry at his blog here. You will find many incredible pictures and posts! Please feel free to pass this inspiring story to others by clicking on like or share buttons!

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I felt that yoga was key to my happiness!

Picture of Brian and his daughter
This story has been submitted by Brian Granader and is his story of his journey into yoga. Brian is a yoga teacher and owner of www.redlotusyoga.com:

My name is Brian Granader. In 2002 I had just completed my 10th year as a Residential Realtor in the Oakland County Michigan area. I was highly successful in regard to the number of homes sold, dollars in commissions and reputation in the area. Yet, highly failed in my degree of happiness. I had been practicing yoga for about a year at this time and truly enjoyed it. I found more healing through yoga than conventional therapy and felt it was a key to my happiness.

I took a teacher training course to deepen my practice and afterward found I had a natural skill at teaching. I taught part time for a while and still helped people buy and sell homes. At some point I asked myself, “If I was going to die in six months, what would I rather be doing?” Yoga was my answer. I picked a date to finish real estate, gave my business to my assistant and began teaching full time. Within a year I purchased a yoga studio. I was newly married at that time and making the decision to be a yoga teacher did not help that marriage. I had to make a choice at one point. Go back to real estate or continue being a yoga teacher. My greatest fear was selling myself short. In the end, I chose yoga and my marriage failed.

Had I stayed in Real estate I would have either had a heart attack, cancer or had some other major calamity. The decision to not wait for something like this to force me to make a life change was difficult and yet the best thing I had ever done. I would have to say yoga saved my life.

Since then I have a thriving yoga studio and teacher training program called Red Lotus Yoga in Rochester Hills, MI. A lovely wife and 10 month old daughter!

Life is never perfect, yet yoga and meditation helps me keep things more balanced and happier than I have ever been!

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Yoga is a good way to be real!

This is a story of Lisa Danylchuk on how she found yoga and why she teaches yoga. Once you go past the first minute of “commercials” you will find the video coming alive. We found it hard to view the video without choking up. Lisa says that yoga has helped her heal personal injury and personal loss. But what separates Lisa from most of us is that she sees little difference between internal healing and external healing: The healing of divisions and fissures in our society. This is why she devotes so much of her energy in reaching out to outreach populations of our communities.

You can support Lisa and her work by spreading the word. Click the like button or share the story in e-mails.

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