Yoga provides a calm and centering experience for all children, encouraging them to focus, move, and teaching them to breathe and quiet themselves. Children with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, may struggle with focus and need additional assistance learning to calm themselves. Yoga offers an enjoyable way to manage stress, learn essential life skills and provide a moment of quiet for a very busy and energetic child.
Yoga as Treatment
Yoga can be used as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medication or as one option among a number of complementary therapies to help reduce, avoid or eliminate ADHD medications. Yoga may improve fitness and coordination, provide structure and encourage self-awareness, according to the Yoga Journal website. Meditation and breathing exercises may reduce stress, frustration and anger for children with ADHD.
When and Where
Children can learn yoga at home or in a yoga class, and may even be able to incorporate aspects of yoga practice into their classrooms to improve focus and school performance. Choose a small class or individual instruction to make it easier for your child to pay attention and begin with shorter sessions. Expect it to take time, possibly as long as a year or more of regular practice, for yoga to make a difference in your child’s behavior, according to the Yoga Journal website.
Some yoga poses can be especially beneficial. Balancing and standing poses, like tree pose, mountain, or triangle, may force children to pay attention to their bodies to avoid toppling over. Forward bends may help kids with ADHD breathe deeply and increase exhalation. Inverted poses, including headstands and handstands, may calm the nervous system. Longer sequences, like sun salutations, may challenge the child’s memory and keep his mind on task.
Breathing, or Pranayam
Breathing exercises can help you child learn to calm herself and may reduce mood swings, temper tantrums and emotional instability. Breathing exercises can be used on their own, or as a part of a yoga practice, interspersed with more active poses. Parents should consider taking a class along with their child, both as a bonding experience and to learn the same relaxation techniques to help him cope and function well.
What Not to Do
While yoga can help your child to function and may provide him with some of the long term skills he needs, you should not change his ADHD treatments without the support of his health care provider. Changes in medications should always be managed by your physician whether you need to change medications or would like to experiment with other therapies in place of medication.