Yoga has been practiced for centuries and Web MD states that currently as many as 11 million Americans are taking advantage of yoga to help them with increased flexibility, strength, balance and improved posture. But, how can yoga be beneficial to children with a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder? Aside from the above mentioned skills, which are wonderful for any child’s physical fitness level, yoga is also a great way to improve relaxation, focus, attention and mood. These four factors can greatly benefit a child with ADD/ADHD.
A recent article in Yoga Journal cited that yoga can help balance the production of neurotransmitters in the brain and reduce stress levels. Yoga combines physical activity with self-awareness and promotes a mind-body connection that many children with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD lack. Yoga Journal goes on to cite that the ability to concentrate emerges from restraining mental distractions in a process neurologists call “neural inhibition”. This helps with ï¿½quieting the mind of its compulsions.” Web MD says that lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters — dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine — creates a feeling of calm. Studies that looked at how adults felt after yoga class often cited that people described themselves as being in a better mood, more calm, more relaxed and more content. Yoga has been shown to improve oxygen levels and increase lung capacity due to the learning of deep breathing techniques and this of course means more oxygen to the brain which has numerous benefits. A combination of these factors seem to indicate why yoga can help children with attention problems control their impulsivity and hyperactivity. Yoga can also help to lessen the need to fidget and help release the pent up energy in these children that tends to be disruptive. Yoga is also currently being studied to see what impact it may have on other disorders such as heart disease, stroke, asthma, depression, insomnia, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Benefits for ADD/ADHD from Yoga Include:
- Relaxation and de-stressing
- Quieting the mind
- Improved focus
- Decreased fidgeting
- Decreased impulsivity
- Promotes the connection between mind, body and spirit
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Improved respiration and energy level
- Balanced metabolism
- Can helps promote a sense of the needs of others
An article in the July 15 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette detailed the benefits of yoga for children in general and its classes for children ages 4-8 and 8-12 at a facility called Schoolhouse Yoga in Squirrel Hill: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09196/983897-114.stm.
Since many beginner yoga DVDs are commercially available and there is also a Wii Fit Yoga game, so this is something you can try at home with your children if you do not want to pay to attend formal classes.