Yoga as Treatment for ADHD
Written by Carol Traulsen.
Yoga originated in India more than 2,00 years ago. The word 'yoga' comes from a Sanskrit word that means the blending of the body and mind. Though the practice is ancient it has recently gained popularity as a treatment for a number of medical condition. Yoga has been used to treat hypertension, anxiety, and insomnia. Now there are studies to suggest yoga may be effective in the treatment of ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a condition that affects adults and children. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) ADHD affects about 8 percent of children. Symptoms include inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. ADHD is divided into three types: ADHD-HI or Hyperactive/Impulsive, Predominantly Inattentive ADHD-PI and Combined ADHD-C. Individuals are classified based on their most prominent symptoms.
The purpose of yoga is to bring the body, mind and spirit into harmony through breathing exercises, physical postures and meditation. Through the practice of yoga proponents can achieve the balance necessary for bodily, spiritual and emotional health. Those diagnosed with ADHD are often stressed, distracted and unable to focus. The benefits of yoga include stress relief, increased focus, self-awareness, meditation as well as confidence all things those with ADHD can benefit from without the use of medication. At this time yoga is often in conjunction with medications and not the primary form of treatment. There are reasons that yoga works to treat ADHD here are just a few:
By its very nature yoga teaches the practitioner to focus and pay attention to very specific and sometimes very small movements. These muscle movements may be ones that they have been previously unaware of. When one begins to master movements and muscles in the body, unlocking the hidden power of the mind (the real yoga for me) will follow.
To get into a yoga pose you must slow down and be in control. You gain victory over your actions through single-mindedness. People with ADHD often experience a wild untamed mind that pulls them in several directions at once. The balancing of the body required in yoga poses will bring balance and harmony to the mind as well.
Yoga helps create a relaxed mind, and a more focused mind. There are some studies suggesting that the symptoms of ADHD are worsened by the constant daily assault on our senses by technology and by daily stress and frustration. Practicing yoga helps to counter all of that.
Yoga offers a drug free way for the practitioner to gain more control over body and mind The long-term effects of drugs like Ritalin are still not known. Yoga as a means to improve concentration, focus and relaxation without drug interactions and side effects is proving to be quite effective in children as well as adults with ADHD.
Children with ADHD also benefit from the practice of yoga. Forward bends seem to be very effective. The theory is that forward bends increase exhalation by lengthening and deepening the breath and this action is key in developing concentration. There's even been a study to suggest that yoga has more impact on hyperactivity than strenuous exercise. Yoga teaches children with ADHD to focus intently on what their bodies are doing. It teaches them to relax which in turn reduces anxiety when they interact with their peers. It also helps them integrate both halves of the brain, which allows for more effective thinking and planning.
That's a pretty long list of benefits. This is not to suggest you should throw away your medication or your child's medication if ADHD affects your life. This just may be an effective compliment to your current treatment. Open your mind what have you got to lose?
- Read more of Carol Traulsen.
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