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Yoga & Meditation for Kids With ADHD

By Kristin Shea

Traditional treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often involve potent medications that can significantly affect your child’s health. Such possible side effects as gastrointestinal problems, arrhythmia, hypertension, headaches, tics, insomnia, and anxiety can negatively affect a child’s education, social interactions and physical and mental health. Yoga and meditation can provide healthier treatment options or supplement your child’s medication use.

Relieving Stress Through Mantra Meditation

The practice of mantra meditation, also called transcendental meditation, trains your child to revert back to a quiet state during stressful situations and approach situations from a steadier position. The practice of mantra meditation involves closing your eyes and mentally repeating a mantra for 10 to 20 minutes, and thereby developing a state of deep relaxation. Your child can learn to tap into this calmer state when confronted with stress. The Transcendental Meditation Program claims that the mantra meditation technique can help kids diagnosed with ADHD control stress, manage anxiety and improve memory and attention.

Neuroplasticity Through Meditation

Meditation may positively change brain function, according to a University of Wisconsin study, conducted in partnership with other leading research organizations and published in "Psychosomatic Medicine Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine" in 2003. Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., the leading author of the University of Wisconsin study expounds upon his findings in his 2008 article published in "IEEE Signal Processing Magazine." Davidson describes how meditation contributes to brain-changing activities that result in neuroplasticity. He further explains that attention is a trainable skill that can be improved by meditation practice.

Yoga Breath

Yoga’s focus on breath control promotes relaxation, steadiness and concentration. Yoga emphasizes using the breath to guide movement and maintain poses. Through deep breathing exercises, yoga teaches kids to tap into their breath in daily life as a source of mental and physical control. ABC-of-Yoga advises that kids with ADHD learn to manage such common symptoms as anxiety, anger, depression and neurosis, and improve concentration and attention.

Yoga Calming Poses

Certain yoga poses are particularly well-suited for children with ADHD because of their calming nature, such as restorative and forward bend poses. According to the "Yoga Journal," because forward bends lengthen and deepen each breath, they increase calming exhalations. Such restorative poses as savasana, in which the child lies in a supine position and relaxes every muscle in the body, and viparita Karani, in which the child places legs straight up the wall while resting in a supine position, can bring your child peace of mind.

Picking the Right Training

In order for your child to benefit from meditation and yoga, your child must take an interest in the activities. Unlike the passive action of taking medications, both meditation and yoga require your child’s active involvement to produce results. One of their valuable qualities is that meditation and yoga empower your child through personal action and choice, elements that may feel otherwise absent in the life of a child with ADHD. If available, programs designed for children with ADHD will more fully target your child’s needs. If no such program exists in your community, your child can still benefit from programs specifically designed for children. Before registering your child, discuss your child’s condition with the instructor to determine whether the instructor is equipped to best benefit your child.

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