Yoga and ADHD For Kids Is This A Valid Option?
By Robert Locke MBE
There are not many studies of the effects and benefits of yoga for ADHD kids but there is a growing awareness of its value.
Many people, both adults and children, who have tried yoga have spoken of its benefits in very positive terms. What is lacking is adequate research and the number of studies on yoga and ADHD treatment is relatively small.
What are the benefits?
Both children and adults, after doing yoga for several sessions, have spoken about the following
positive feelings which lasted for a few hours after each session. Over time, they were convinced that they were not only strengthening their bodies and gaining in overall fitness but that focus and calm were becoming much more predominant. Some of the effects that were mentioned:-
- attention and focus definitely improved
- calmness and serenity are frequently mentioned
- better quality of sleep
- improved breathing techniques helps to get more oxygen to the brain<
- the forward bends definitely help to breathe more deeply
- reduction of stress and anxiety.
- the feelings of relaxation can help boost the central nervous system
- certain poses and routines can actually stimulate both sides of the brain which helps learning.
- mind is sharper and able to think more clearly.
Research studies on yoga and ADHD
One very small study was carried out by Pauline Jensen in 2004 and reported in the Journal of Attention Disorders. She looked at the results of classes with 8 -13 year old boys after a period of five months. Those boys attended yoga classes once a week. The parents noticed a definite improvement in the areas of hyperactivity.
Another study (a Master’s research project at the College of Education at Ohio University) actually looked at the benefits of yoga in the classroom. Regular exercises were done during lessons such as 5 10 minute periods which did not impinge too much on the actual timetable. They measured the results using the Vanderbilt ADHD Scale
They found that it was beneficial in helping to reduce excess energy but above all in making students aware of how breathing correctly can help to focus their energy and attention.
Again, this was a very small project but highlights the need for more studies on yoga and ADHD to be done. There is no suggestion that yoga might substitute medication or behavior therapy but it could well play a much more important role in an ADHD treatment plan.
Another study showed that those kids doing yoga as part of their PE were much less anxious and
altogether less moody than their classmates who were not following any yoga lessons. It also reported that a very high 75% of students who were doing the yoga were keen to continue.
All the studies show that yoga was especially useful in improving :
- physical health
- self confidence
- academic grades.
Moreover, in the case of special needs children such as those with ADHD, yoga seems to be very beneficial indeed.
Experiment at the Encinitas Union School District.
This school district has had a grant from the Jois Foundation which promotes a type of yoga called Ashtanga. These yoga classes are just one of many activities to help kids develop better mental and physical health. The vast majority of parents are more than happy with the program.
But a minority group of parents who are backed by Christian evangelical groups and the NCLP (The National Centre for Law & Policy) are protesting that the yoga classes are indoctrinating the children in Hindu beliefs. It therefore violates religious freedom.
The schools superintendent, Tim Baird, says that this is not the case and there is no invocation of any Hindu gods during the lessons. In any case, there is an opt out clause so parents who are worried about Hindu indoctrination can choose some other activity for their kids.
Research at the University of Virginia and San Diego
Fortunately, the school district is getting support from two universities (Virginia and San Diego) who are conducting some really useful research into the effects of yoga on children’s health. Now, when those results are published that will be very interesting to watch.
About the Author:
Robert Locke MBE, is an award winning author and has written extensively on ADHD and related child health problems. Find out more about ADHD natural treatment here.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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