Using Yoga to Manage ADD
Exercise is a powerful tool for ADD management. Medical professionals recommend that adults get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (such as running or biking) 3-5 times per week to improve their general health. For ADDers, this type of exercise is particularly beneficial, because it may balance production of neurotransmitters and reduce stress levels. Another form of exercise that ADDers are finding valuable is yoga. When practiced regularly, yoga offers numerous health benefits, such as increased strength and flexibility, and decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, the greater benefits of yoga are arguably the psychological ones. Yoga combines physical activity with self-awareness, which promotes a mind-body connection that many ADDers lack.
When ADDers report challenges with impulsivity and hyperactivity, they often describe feeling like they don't have control over their own bodies. They find themselves speaking before thinking their thoughts through, and often regret their words. They constantly fidget, unaware that their bubbling energy can be disruptive to others in work and social situations. And they feel as if they simply cannot stop the whirlwind of thoughts spinning in their heads.
Yoga can help ADDers learn how to forge a mind-body connection that promotes self-awareness and self-control. Yoga practitioners are taught deep breathing and relaxation techniques that help center the mind in the present moment. Practitioners are also guided into holding different postures, called asanas. Each asana is held for an extended period of time, as the practitioner focuses on holding the best posture that they can, while breathing calmly and deeply. The asanas promote stretching, strengthening, and balancing, as the deep breathing promotes relaxation and mental awareness.
It is important to remember that yoga is not meant to be stressful or taxing on the body. People should be encouraged to concentrate only on themselves and not the others in the class, and to do only what feels comfortable. A practitioner should never feel pressured to perform. If an ADDer finds him/herself at a yoga class that moves too quickly, or focuses heavily on strength training, they will not reap the intended benefits, and may find themselves overwhelmed. The best place to find yoga instruction is at a yoga center, where the instructors practice yoga as a way of life, and teach both the physical and psychological components.
Yoga can help ADDers feel calm, centered, in control, and in touch with their bodies. Practiced regularly, ADDers will find that yoga is a powerful mental and physical refresher that they can retreat to when feeling out of control or overwhelmed.