Yoga is an ancient practice, developed approximately 5000 years ago in India. The yogis who developed the practice named many of the positions after animals or various objects in nature: Tree, Mountain, Lion, Cobra, Dog, Cat etc. This makes yoga an excellent activity for children, as they can associate with the names and enjoy putting their bodies into the positions of each animal or object.
ADHD children can benefit from yoga a great deal, due to the breathing, concentration, posture and balance that yoga provides. Balancing postures such as Tree or Boat can work wonders for a child's balance and co-ordination, while forward bends are fantastic as they lengthen exhalation, therefore developing concentration on the breath.
Some ADHD children find balancing postures frustrating so take things slowly and praise should always be given to increase confidence. Yoga can be a wonderful way of increasing self-esteem for the ADHD child as many children are convinced that they are unable to stand on one leg, or touch their toes etc. Once they have discovered that through practice they can indeed hold these postures, their self-esteem is enhanced and at the same time their balancing and stretching skills are refined.
Good positions for confidence are those such as Warrior I or Warrior II. These simple yet dynamic stances help confidence by allowing the child to have fun and be playful, but at the same time they encourage them to control their bodies and increases body awareness skills: one moment swaying in the position as a 'surf dude' and the next holding the position (but never the breath) as a proud Warrior.
Another beneficial exercise is the 'bicycle' where a child lies on the back with legs and feet in the air, arms by the sides. The child then moves their legs around as if they are pedaling a bike, whilst imagining that they are cycling wherever they wish to go. This exercise is great for imagination as it encourages the child to make up their own journeys, and it is also good for coordination as children are working opposite sides of their body in tandem, as well as strengthening their legs and tummy muscles.
You can combine standard yoga postures with the opportunity of letting the ADHD child design their own simple, safe positions. Not only does this do wonders for confidence but also concentration too, as the child is able to use their energy in a positive way by thinking about working on different positions. The child can also give the position a name of their choice, and can have fun showing other children or adults how they too can achieve the unique, self-designed pose.
Warning: While yoga and meditation for kids with ADHD are beneficial, the practices should be supervised at all times, in order to remain safe and enjoyable for all.