Have you even woken up feeling as if your mind were scattered in several places? That’s how I felt the other day. I had worked late the night before, stayed on the computer too long, and slept badly.
In the morning, I couldn’t decide which of the many tasks in front of me to concentrate on. I eventually chose one, and with difficulty I worked for some time.
But instead of doing what I “should have done” next, I ran out to a yoga class. For about the first 15 or 20 minutes of the class, my mind was still racing—I shouldn’t be here, I thought. I should have kept working. I could have accomplished X, Y, and Z.
Little by little, however, as my body took and held the yoga poses, and my breath grew slow and even, my mind calmed down. By the time the class was finished and I walked out the door, I had been transformed.
I felt centered and focused. Even the traffic noises didn’t sound as loud. I returned to my apartment and began to pick up my work where I had left off.
Granted, I was fortunate that my schedule was flexible enough that day to take advantage of the class. Sometimes we have no choice but to plunge ahead with whatever we are doing, no matter how distracted we feel.
But it’s good to remember that this kind of transformation is possible, that we can find a sense of peace even in the midst of uncompleted tasks.
In their book, Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD, Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg explore how mind-body practices help ADHD. While meditation can calm, balance and strengthen the nervous system, it can be challenging for those who have ADHD traits, such as hyperactivity and distractibility, to sit still.
Dr. Brown and Dr. Gerbarg explain that the kind of movement and breathing that is done in yoga releases physical tension and allows the mind to relax, to concentrate, and to meditate.The slow breathing stimulates the vagus nerves, which are the main pathways of the soothing, healing, and recharging part of the nervous system.
Vagus is Latin for “wandering.” This nerve begins at the brainstem and “meanders” through the abdomen, with branching nerves coming into contact with internal organs in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. The vagus nerve carries information from the nervous system to the brain.
People with healthy vagus nerve functioning are more resilient under stress, and they have an easier time moving from an excited state to a relaxed one.
A growing number of research studies indicate that certain yogic practices, such as breathing techniques, can significantly increase vagal tone.
Dr. Brown and Dr. Gerbarg write: “By quieting and balancing the stress response system, yoga and breathing practices improve emotional regulation. For these reasons, we recommend that everyone with ADHD get involved in yoga and breathing practices, and we advise practitioners to consider adding mind-body practices to their ADHD treatment plans.”
Click here to read an article about scientific research on yoga:
“Yoga is so universal in its principles and so holistically beneficial, it is possible for any person, young or old, religious or agnostic, to embrace and enjoy a practice.”
Christy Turlington, Living Yoga