yoga for ADD/ADHDBy Faye Martins

Is yoga for attention deficit disorders like ADD/ADHD a sensible solution? ADD and ADHD are on the rise, and experts fail to agree on a reason as to why this is. Whatever the cause, the fact remains that having a complete inability to focus is a major problem throughout life. School, work and social settings can become a personal hell if one is completely unable to control the attention of their mind. Tension between everyone involved can run high, damaging relationships and having a negative impact on the self worth of the afflicted individual.

Throughout history, individuals with ADD/ADHD have been accused of being unintelligent or lazy because of the fact that they are distractible and cannot easily focus. Thankfully, brain science has come to their rescue. Individuals with ADD and ADHD have measurable, physical differences in their brain structure, with lesser development in the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain associated with focus and attention. However, those with ADD and ADHD tend to have a slightly higher IQ than their unafflicted peers, debunking the thought that those with ADD are less intelligent.

For those with ADD/ADHD, their brains do not understand how to silence external stimuli in favor of one source in particular. As a result, the brain is aware of everything happening within the environment, all at the same time. As a result, these individuals end up daydreaming in the middle of a lecture, or become fixated with a butterfly fluttering by when they’re supposed to be paying attention to the sport they’re currently playing. Without the ability to focus and shut certain neurons down, people with ADD simply can’t focus. The world is one large, distracting place for those without latent inhibition.

In addition, ADD brains display a lot of theta activity. In contrast, a state of focus is characterized by heightened amounts of beta wave activity.

Meditation cultivates and encourages growth of grey matter in the areas of the brain associated with focus, but for the majority of individuals with ADD, the idea of sitting and trying to focus on their breathing sounds like some form of inexplicable torture. With a brain structure different from that of the average person, meditation would likely prove too difficult for those with ADD. However, yoga is the perfect substitute.

Movement during learning makes all the difference for people with ADD, who are frequently able to focus while exercising their physical bodies. Meditation may be too far of a stretch in the beginning, but yoga is the perfect fusion of mindfulness and physical activity.

In order for this to be effective, the individual should select a yoga school that appeals to them. Some people like yoga classes that hold postures, while many others enjoy the more physically demanding experience of flow yoga. Any style will prove beneficial.

The next step will be to find a patient instructor. The yoga teacher will need to be very well aware of the fact that the potential student has ADD/ADHD since they will be taking an active role in making yoga work for them. A good yoga instructor for this purpose will be willing to kindly redirect the attention of the student when it invariably drifts during class. This recapturing of attention must be done in a kind, nonjudgemental manner, since those with ADD/ADHD have likely dealt with enough shame and negativity regarding their inattention to last a lifetime. Yoga training should always be a positive experience.

Simply engaging in a yoga class from start to finish is enough to make a positive change for the better in the long haul, but research also suggests that poses involving balance may be particularly beneficial since the same area in the brain which controls balance also controls behavior and stability of thought. This is great for those with ADD, since they often lack inhibition, especially in social situations.

For children and adults alike with ADD/ADHD who are looking to make a change, yoga could be just the answer they’ve been looking for. The best part about making yoga a daily habit is that it does not interfere with any prescriptions, meaning it may be used as a complementary therapy with excellent results. Completing a yoga session gives those with ADD a sense of accomplishment and purpose, which will then carry over into other aspects of their lives. By learning focus, these creative, intelligent individuals may begin to unlock the full potential of their unique minds.

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