There are many reasons for children to start learning yoga. For one, they can learn to breathe correctly. I can’t count the number of adults I’ve had start yoga with me who have inverted breathing, or chest breathing, and thus, suffer from anxiety.
As a mom, I love the idea of my rambunctious little one practicing yoga with me. Although, most of the time she can hardly sit still long enough to do it with me. She is the typical high-energy, impulsive kid who may be a candidate for an ADHD diagnosis. I haven’t brought her in for any professional diagnosis because I don’t plan on medicating her. From a holistic point of view chemical overstimulation of the nervous system isn’t healthy. So my growing concern for my own child’s impulsiveness and hyper-activity has lead me to do extensive research on how to help her with yoga.
It turns out, ADHD and yoga have already been properly studied in several cases. So I gathered the research for you here, in case you need to see the scientific data:
*A 2012 study published in ISRN Pediatrics found yoga improved school performance in children with ADHD.
*A German study also reported that yoga may helped to improve ADHD symptoms in children with ADHD.
*An Australian study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders suggested that yoga improved behaviour and focus in boys with ADHD who were also on drug therapy.
So now that you can rest assured that this is indeed a good idea for your child who suffers from ADHD (or for yourself as an adult with ADHD), here comes the good stuff.
YOGA POSES FOR ADHD
The asanas that will help ADHD the most are those which are relaxing since according to Ayurveda, ADHD is considered a Vata imbalance. So this means lots of forward bends such as, shashankasana (hare pose), adho mukha svanasana (downward dog), janusirasana (head to knee pose), paschimmotanasana (back stretching pose). All these have calming effects on the practitioner and help increase focus and coordination.
Brahmari Pranayama (humming bee breath) is one simple technique that induces a meditative state by harmonising the mind and directing the awareness inwards. This is helpful for people with ADHD since one of the main concerns is an inability to focus.
To practice this technique or teach your child how to do it, follow these simple instructions:
- Sit comfortably with the back straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Close the eyes and relax. The lips remain gently closed with no tension on the jaw, (remind yourself or the child to relax the jaw).
- Plug your ears with your thumbs, resting the other four fingers on the head.
- Breathe in deeply through the nose. Then slowly exhale, making a deep and steady humming sound (hummm…like a bee, hence it’s name). The sound should be smooth and continuous for the duration of the exhalation. This is one round.
- At the end of exhalation, breathe in deeply once more and repeat the process. Perform 5-10 rounds.
This is a simple and fast technique than even someone with ADHD can sit through. Once a child can consistently sit for up to 10 rounds of this, they are ready to try something different so they don’t get bored.
Many years ago, Yogui Bhajan told his students that Kirtan Kriya was a technology that would be much needed in the Aquarian Era because of the overwhelming amount of information we would be exposed to. He said this way before he could confirm how right he was about our current information overload. We are saturated with more information on a regular basis than our predecessors would process in an entire lifetime (that’s my own statistic, I have no proof but research it, if you must).
Kirtan Kriya is a singing meditation. I have taught it to both adults and children and was surprised to find how well kids took to it. The singing keeps them entertained while the finger movements keeps them occupied and concentrated. I always shorten the times for kids to one minute out loud, one minute whispering, one minute in silence, then one minute whispering again and a final minute out loud- which is a total of five minutes of meditation! An excellent practice for children who are 5 years old or older.
Here are some of my students learning it, once the children have done it a few time and get the finger coordination right, the singing becomes more fluid.
If you want to read more about the benefits of kirtan kriya, here’s a great article on it.
I hope all this information is helpful to those of you wanting to help children who may be diagnosed with ADHD, although I believe these practices would be helpful to any child growing up in this day and age.