September ushers in autumn, back-to-school, and National Yoga Month. Designated by the Department of Health & Human Services, National Yoga Month features yoga's numerous health benefits. Now research reports that yoga may help relieve attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.
ADHD is one of the most common childhood behavioral disorders. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8.4 percent of American children are diagnosed with ADHD.
In honor of National Yoga Month, here are three ways yoga may help relieve ADHD in kids.
Yoga Helps ADHD School Kids
A 2012 study published in ISRN Pediatrics found yoga improved school performance in children with ADHD.
Researchers in India assigned 69 schoolchildren with ADHD to a once or twice weekly yoga program. The "Climb-Up" yoga program was conducted in classrooms for one year. The therapeutic yoga based curriculum included yoga, meditation, and play therapy.
The participants behaviors were assessed with Vanderbilt questionnaires completed by parents and teachers.
The researchers found that 46 percent of students had significant improvement in teacher ratings of behavior and 92 percent of students in parent ratings.
"The Climb-Up program resulted in remarkable improvements in the students' school performances that were sustained throughout the year," the study authors write. "These results show promise for a cost-effective program that could easily be implemented in any school."
Yoga Improves ADHD Symptoms
A German study reports that yoga may help improve ADHD symptoms in children with ADHD.
Researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany randomly assigned 19 children with ADHD either to yoga for children or traditional exercise.
The researchers found that the yoga group had significant improvement in ADHD symptoms including attention problems, compared to the exercise group. Furthermore, yoga was effective for children undergoing drug treatment.
"The findings from this pilot study demonstrate that yoga can be an effective complementary or concomitant treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder," the study authors conclude.
Yoga Benefits ADHD Boys
A small study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders suggests yoga improved behavior and focus in ADHD boys on drug therapy.
Australian researchers assigned 19 school-age boys with ADHD on drug therapy to either 20 sessions of kids yoga or cooperative activities (control group). ADHD symptoms assessments were obtained from the participants.
The researchers found that the yoga group had improvement in ADHD symptoms including behavior, compared to the non-yoga group. Furthermore, participants who additionally practiced yoga at home had even greater improvement in ADHD symptoms.
Yoga Programs for ADHD Kids
ADHD information and programs can be found at CHADD.
To learn more about yoga's benefits, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas' book, "The Yoga Minibook Series Balance Set: The Yoga Minibook for Stress Relief and The Yoga Minibook for Energy and Strength."
You can buy Elaine Gavalas' books here.
Watch Elaine Gavalas' Yoga Therapy Videos here.
Elaine Gavalas is co-founder of SimplyCentered.com and an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, and healthy recipe developer.
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