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Childhood Benefits of Yoga for ADHD

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder » Featured Article

By: Jeanine Roddy, MA, CCC-SLP

Jeanine Roddy, MA, CCC-SLP

Recently my friend’s daughter came home from kindergarten and announced, “I can do yoga.” “Are you learning that in gym?” she was asked. “No, we have yoga videos in our classroom!”

In recent years many schools have turned to yoga as a useful tool to enhance learning and discipline. And now many doctors and therapists are finding yoga can be especially helpful for active children and those with ADHD.

Research supports the inclusion of yoga in ADHD treatment plans. As published in ISRN Pediatrics, researchers in India assigned 69 schoolchildren with ADHD to a once or twice weekly yoga program for one year. Following that therapeutic yoga based curriculum the researchers found that 46 percent of students had significant improvement in teacher ratings of behavior and 92 percent of students improved in parent ratings.

While previous studies have focused on behavioral outcomes, a recent study (Chou C., Huang C. 2017) published in a “PeerJ” article (https://peerj.com/articles/2883/) found cognitive focus also improved with yoga when both speed and accuracy were measured. While stimulant medication is often used to improve focus, side effects can sometimes prompt parents and doctors to look for alternative or supplemental therapies, and this study suggests yoga may be a successful option.

In addition to behavioral and cognitive benefits, there are also physical and social reasons for children to practice yoga. Here’s a list of nine benefits for ADHD children reported in the Yogi Times article, “Assisting ADHD with Yoga” by David Novak:

  • Improves focus
  • Decreases pent-up energy and fidgeting
  • Creates greater connection between body, mind and spirit
  • Increases strength and muscle mass
  • Helps balance metabolism and digestion
  • Enables relaxation
  • Promotes empathy
  • Decreases stress
  • Improves respiration

If you want to try yoga for your child, there are several options to explore. Many yoga studios now offer classes for children. You may also find classes offered through dance studios or community education programs. Remember to check with your school to see if they have, or would consider incorporating, yoga in their curriculum.

There also are many on-line classes families can follow at home that you can do with your child. Check out the YouTube offerings, some of which are listed by age group. Shakta Khalsa, Director of Radiant Child Yoga, offers these tips for parents who choose to do yoga at home with their children:

  • Set a special time of day
  • Use a quiet space
  • Limit time for preschoolers to 15 minutes, and to 20 minutes for elementary age
  • Most importantly, choose a routine that is fun!
  • Finally, Khalsa reminds parents to give lots of praise to ADHD children, "They hear so much negativity about themselves all day long, so when you see them doing something well, acknowledge it."

If you are the parent of an active child with ADHD, you may have consulted with professionals and continue to search for the best solutions for your child. Now yoga may be one more tool that can help your child and your family.

About the Author...

Jeanine Roddy, MA, CCC-SLP, is owner of Frisco Feeding & Speech Therapy. She has successfully practiced speech, language, communication and feeding therapy for 10 years with proven results in private schools & Frisco ISD.

Her practice provides comprehensive evaluations and consultations used to guide the development and implementation of personalized quality intervention to ensure the most effective and efficient achievement of client’s needs.

Click here to contact or learn more about Jeanine Roddy

Last Update: 7/30/2018



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