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Yoga helping fight autism Down Under

health-and-fitness Updated: Apr 12, 2007 14:56 IST

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A not-for-profit organisation Yoga in the Community (YITC) is already employing yoga for this purpose. This group "aims to support the mental, physical and emotional well-being of various special needs groups in Australia," reported Precinct, a journal published by the University of Technology, Sydney.

Amid growing influence of alternative healing trends here, this network was founded eight months ago by Sue White, 33, and Katie Spiers, 28.

Their yoga studio in this eastern Australian city and commercial centre is filled with candles, flowers and incense. "Everything in the Samadhi yoga studio is relaxed and peaceful," reported the journal.

"We try hard to make sure this place has a relaxed feeling and looks beautiful. All of this is part of the experience," Spiers was quoted as saying.

Both she and Sue have been yogis for many years, and the benefits of yoga vary from improving body awareness, to managing stress levels and recovering from an addiction, said the journal published by the varsity's journalism programme.

"It's amazing to see the difference in the group. At the beginning they're quite noisy and at the end of the class, it's just peace," said White.

Three students learning yoga as a way of coping with their autism were highlighted, including while doing exercises like 'surya namaskar' or sun salutation.

Autism spectrum disorders are lifelong disabilities that affect how a person communicates and relates to other people.

People with autism often display difficulty with social interaction, communication and behaviour. They are commonly misunderstood by others, making them frequently only more frustrated and stressed.

Adults with autism, however, respond well to visual forms of communications, so yoga teachers believe their form of teaching is particularly effective.

YITC itself began out of necessity.

"We'd developed a reputation as being a place for people with special needs groups. People would call and say, 'Is there any way that you could send a volunteer teacher here? We haven't got any money, but we've got these people who we think could really benefit from yoga', and we were like, 'We'll find someone'," the founders of this centre were quoted as saying.