Yoga for Stuttering: Can It Help Improve Speech Fluency?
Yoga for Stuttering: Can It Help Improve Speech Fluency?
Traditional yoga is a collection of different postures (or asanas), and breathing exercises (pranayamas) that focus on every organ and muscle group of the body. These asanas and pranayamas can help people reclaim control of their body and mind through regular practice.
Yoga modulates the activities of the autonomic nervous system (Heather Kauffman 2016). Many other studies say that yoga can reduce anxiety, increase focus and absolve physical and mental stress. It s also known that stress, fatigue, or anxiety do not cause stuttering, but they can make blocks, repetitions, and prolongations which are the features of disfluent speech in a person who stutters to worsen.
Yoga for Stuttering
Stuttering is a heterogeneous speech disability. Mindfulness meditation aids to control one’s brain functioning, and peace of mind and boosts confidence in an individual. Practicing yoga with mindfulness daily can reduce the frequency and intensity of dysfluent speech in persons who stutter. This is done to reduce the physiological stress on the muscles which are involved in speaking. Yoga is the best accessible option for the ones interested in gaining more control of their body and mind, especially for individuals who stutter.
Stuttering and anxiety go hand in hand. An individual might feel anxious as he might be anticipating stuttering, which causes the muscles in and around the vocal cords necessary, to produce speech to tighten. This finally results in reputation, blocks, and prolongation contributing to more anxiety, which further worsens the stutter.
If one can manage to control the physical strains or lower their anxiety, the stutter can be lowered. Yoga gives a way to control negative emotions including anxiety and fear that can cause stuttering. By controlling one’s emotions negativity can be reduced. This will help individuals who stutter to lessen their escape and avoidance behavior.
Yoga for speech therapy can be a fun and enriching experience for children who stutter. As modern parents, we might seek out the best speech therapists and counselors for our children, but yoga has multiple benefits on the physiology and psychology of growing children that modern science cannot deny.
The following are the benefits of yoga for children and adults as a part of Speech Therapy –
Each posture has a name of a being or of nature’s element. Children will have fun learning new vocabulary and the make-believe that comes with assuming each posture is named after an animal. Adults will learn new postures, their benefits for each part of the body, and their Sanskrit names. Individuals even have the option of completing yoga courses and getting certifications that can help them expand their job. Yoga inclusion in speech therapy can enrich and empower adults and children alike.
Control of one’s breath is crucial for managing his/her stutter. Teaching conscious breathing to children and adults is much easier through yoga and pranayama. But, for children, breathing exercises will be boring and difficult to remember. The inclusion of breathing exercises as a part of therapy in the form of pranayama is interesting and also easy to remember as each breathing technique in yoga has a name. Techniques like Anuloma-Viloma, Bhramari, and Kapalbhati can help a person gain control over their breathing and engage in coordinated movement of their facial and vocal muscles.
Gross and fine motor routines
Children and adults who are having trouble with fine motor planning can gain confidence by repetition of the gross and fine motor routines, and choral speaking that occurs during pranayama and meditation chants. Therapists can include other chants and modify the sequence of exercises to encourage sound production among their clients. This is because Yoga, pranayama, and meditation involve fine motor planning via the execution of breathing techniques and chanting.
Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system
Yoga consists of postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation. All these help in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels in the body) and helps in the suppression of the sympathetic nervous system. The activation of the parasympathetic nervous system releases neurotransmitters that promote relaxation and it reduces the anxiety response of the body. When the cortisol is lowered, the adrenaline in the system allows the person to relax mentally and physically (Kauffman, 2016).
When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated and becomes dominant, a person will be able to control their feelings and execute their speech without getting stressed, fatigued, or feel anxious. There are many studies done on people who stutter. They have shown that meditation, pranayama, and asanas can clinically reduce blood pressure and other signs of stress. Practicing yoga regularly will help one gain confidence that contributes to smoother and effortless stuttering.
Incorporating Yoga into a Comprehensive Treatment Plan
It is essential to understand that yoga should not replace traditional speech therapy for stuttering. Individuals who stutter can work with speech therapists who have experience in incorporating yoga techniques into their treatment plans. Yoga only helps a person to relax which is necessary to produce speech. A study done by Ginsberg (2000), shows that stuttering is a complex physiological, emotional, and anxiety factor. Stuttering being heterogenous and complex needs a wholesome therapy or treatment plan.
Understanding Stuttering and its Challenges
Stuttering is a complex disorder with a combination of genetic, neurological, and environmental factors contributing to its development. It often begins in childhood during the early stages of speech development, and its severity can vary from person to person. Stuttering involves involuntary repetitions of sounds or syllables, prolonged sounds, and blocks where the person is unable to produce any sound.
The challenges posed by stuttering go beyond the physical aspect of speech disruptions. Many individuals who stutter experience emotional distress, social anxiety, and low self-esteem due to the difficulties they face in communication.
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