Yoga is known as an activity that is holistic from the physical, mental and spiritual. However, the extent to which yoga can help a child who experiences speech delays is not widely known. Yoga in this case does not exclude speech therapy which is known as a therapy that is considered able to help children who experience speech delay. But with yoga, surprisingly the results achieved is much faster and maximum than what we thought.
In a comparative study between a child who practiced yoga and the other who did not practice yoga. And both got speech therapy. It can be seen that in children who practice yoga, can be more focused and seen the difference in the way they breathe. So that yoga and speech therapy can work together in improving children's motor skills, cognitive, speech and social development in children.
So, what exactly is the bridge between yoga and speech therapy? None other than Breath.
From the point of view of yoga, Breath is a prana or a vital energy. In the human body, that energy produces movement, structure of integrity and even consciousness in the human self. So without energy, the human body would not function at all. Yoga teaches how to improve and control the flow of energy in the body. Through pranayama exercises (a breathing exercise on yoga) a child can increase his pranic or vital energy intake to build an immunity to disease and overcome many physical problems.
The way we breathe has a profound effect on the central nervous system. The average human uses only one-seventh of the total capacity of the lungs when our brain needs three times more oxygen than other body parts. So if we practice pranayama consistently, it can stabilize our mind and emotions.
Now if we look from the point of view of speech therapy, Breath is the BASIC of human speech. All words and sentences are produced at the time of exhalation. At each end of the pronunciation of a sentence, we need to take a quick breath (inhalation) and the next sentence is pronounced upon exhaling. The span of time in the pronunciation of a sentence is about two to fifteen seconds so that it takes breath control to allow enough time for the person who speaks to finish the sentence.
A newborn baby, they are breathe very quickly about 40-45 times per minute. The lungs were small, her abdominal muscles and diaphragms had not yet developed optimally, her neck and shoulder blades were very close. During the first year of life, her breathing becomes slower at around 25-35 times per minute, the baby also learns to produce variations of sound and combine it in a coherent form. But for children with cerebral palsy, their breathing remains fast and irregular like a baby. This is one of the patterns of speech delay.
Broadly speaking, the speed of a child's breathing is strongly influenced by the activity she does. Changes in breathing patterns appear in children who is doing sitting motion, moving head, hands and shoulders. The breathing becomes faster to give oxygen to the blood which keeps the muscle cells perform the desired movement. If the muscles of the neck, body and shoulders are unbalanced (aligned) then the diaphragm can not work optimally because there are obstacles of the posture. A balanced posture helps the child to breathe deeper and more comfortably. On this basis, it can be said that the development of speech can not be separated from a child's physical posture.
There are three types of muscle shape that can affect communication skills in children: low muscle tone, high muscle tone and fluctuating muscle tone. Children with Down Syndrome usually have low muscle tone so that they are difficult to coordinate the movement of the lips, tongue and jaw. Tonsillus enlargement and recurring cold allergies make them more likely to breathe through the mouth which affects the clarity of articulation, fluidity and sound resonance. By doing yoga therapy for children with special needs, which emphasizes the child's posture and breathing, it will help improve breathing and practice breathing through the nose.
Children with Cerebral Palsy generally have limited motor and oral abilities because they have a high muscle tone. The ability to talk depends on the coordination of the muscles present in the diaphragm, and the articulation (lips, tongue, jaw). Yoga practice leads to stretching and relaxing in the muscle, then a ten minutes of deep relaxation which helps the speech therapist to normalize the high muscle tone. Pranayama exercises can improve breathing by opening the chest and strengthening the diaphragm, also improving the central nervous system which is directly related to motor activity.
My conclusion, a good breathing process is one of KEYS to correct speech impairment. Yoga or pranayama breathing exercises not only teach good breathing but also give oxygen to the blood and also strengthen the central nervous system. Movements in yoga help the process of breathing by forming a good posture and help normalize high or low muscle tone.
The benefits of yoga are not only for children but also adults. Adolescents or adults may have speech impairment or sound problems, which is because they do not know how to coordinate their breathing with the sound that comes out. Once they have been able to breathe deeply and receive sufficient oxygen intake then the entire body system will function better.