The epidemiological prevalence of ADHD ranges from 1.7% to as high as 16% and the symptoms can evolve with age presenting as signs of increased motor activity in adolescents. The same can be passed on to adulthood who find it difficult to participate in any sedentary jobs. In general, for diagnostic purpose early presentation before the age of 6 and impairment due to symptoms at least in 2 settings like home and school is mandatory.
The treatment of ADHD can be considered under three sub sections: Parent or family focused strategies, child focused and school-based interventions. There is a paradigm shift in the attitudes of parents who opt for holistic and alternative forms of treatment individually or in adjunct to pharmacological therapies. Of these Yoga and meditation are important forms of holistic therapies which aim in healing ADHD by acting on all the above mentioned sub sections.
Read: Introduction to ADHD
The Ashtanga yoga which is a time tested science helps to gradually bring the symptoms of ADHD under control, by creating awareness and insight in the child. The eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga progressing from the gross body to the subtle helps the practitioner to gain control over his/her body. This method comprises of postures/Asanas and antaranga yoga along with chanting of specific mantras provides remarkable effects in reducing the hyper activity and improving the attention span in ADHD children.
The prime symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsivity, acting before thinking, impatience, restlessness leading to poor organizational skills making the child look clumsy; tax the nervous system of the child. Mind is usually equated to monkey due to its inborn tendency to wander. This normal tendency of mind is more pronounced in ADHD children. Yoga advocates that mind and prana are intricately linked and on controlling the prana, mind will relax by itself. This is evident from the verse 2, chapter 2 of Hatha yoga pradipika which states:
Chale vaate chalam chittam nischale nischalam bhaveth I
Yogi stanutvamaapnoti tato vayum nirodhayeth II
This means when prana moves the mental force/chitta also moves; when prana is without movement, chitta is also without movement. By this (Pranayama) the yogi(practitioner) attains steadiness and can restrain vayu. According to sage Patanjali, renowned as the Father of yoga, pranayama is the practice of controlled inspiration and expiration, ought to be practsed as per the instructions of the Guru. With regular practice as per instructions, balance and control over prana is established which helps in curtailing of mental agitation.
Bhagavadgita, popular hindu scripture quotes “Yogah karmasu kaushalam” which proves the fact that Yoga is the science of skill full action. The process is relaxed awareness and outcome being effectiveness which is helpful to treat the symptoms and heal the child internally. Often the child diagnosed of ADHD has difficulty in learning at school though they mostly have average or above average intelligence leading to lower self-confidence and self-esteem. Also it is seen that the parents being anxious about the performance of the child put pressure to improve their grades and performance by various means. The parents have to understand that development is a gradual process and any therapy which is a science cannot be deemed as a quick fix. Yoga helps to gain control of the body, balance the vital energy (prana) and calm the mind with internal awareness.