Tai Chi for ADD/ADHD

Feb 24 14:31 2008 Carolyn Cooper Print This Article

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are a growing problem with not only children but adults as well. Tai Chi is a wonderful adjunct therapy for treating ADD because it augments many of the mood management techniques recommended for sufferers.

Research at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine has shown that adolescents with ADHD who participated in two Tai Chi classes per week for five weeks displayed less anxiety,Guest Posting daydreaming behaviors, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity, and improved conduct. Experts on ADD management Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John J. Ratey, M.D., wrote, "Exercise is positively one of the best treatments for ADD. It helps work off excess energy and aggression in a positive way, it allows for noise-reduction within the mind, it stimulates the hormonal and neurochemical systems in a most therapeutic way, and it soothes and calms the body."

ADD usually includes a tendency to obsess over some imagined problem without being able to let go of the mind chatter. As the body stretches and opens through the graceful movements of Tai Chi, we are able to let go on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level with each exhale. Tai Chi's slow flowing routine is all about letting go of outcome and learning to love the process.

I once read an article that said kids cannot benefit from Tai Chi/Qigong because they cannot learn all the intricacies of a form. Well, they may not be able to learn the small details of a form, but they do not need to in order to get some benefit from the movements. As a volunteer Tai Chi instructor in the schools and after-school program teacher, I have seen first hand the benefits of even a few minutes of these calming exercises with children. I have had children in my classes who experience the symptoms of ADD (I really dislike labeling them as "being ADD"). Even with a short attention span, they can learn one or two simple movements such as "Sinking the Chi" and "Rooster stands on One Leg" that can help them focus, even if only for a few minutes at a time. As an Energy Therapist, I also see that performing these movements helps to unwind the scrambled energy systems.

In the children's classes, we also use breathing as a way to become more body aware. Most children enjoy placing their hands by their lungs and feeling the movement that they are in control of with each inhale and exhale while visualizing two balloons getting bigger and smaller in the process. I also teach them to pay attention to how their body feels when they are in this relaxed state. It may be only a few minutes of peacefulness they are experiencing, but each time they do it, it is reinforcing those positive neuro-pathways in the brain. These kids learn that this state of relaxed breathing is a safe place for them to go anytime they are feeling upset or out of control. It not only gives them a tool and the self-confidence to use it, but the deep breathing calms the central nervous system and releases tension.

To quote one third grade teacher whose class I worked with: "I feel the deep breathing, flexibility, balance and coordination the students experienced while doing Tai Chi increased their physical and mental well-being, and enhanced their learning!'

Tai Chi is a mood elevator; it requires no preparation and no special equipment. The slow mindful movements have much to offer people who suffer from ADD.

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About Article Author

Carolyn Cooper
Carolyn Cooper

Carolyn Cooper is a certified fitness professional and Energy Intuitive. She is also founder of Tai Chi Flow, Inc., which has produced a series of videos (www.TaiChiFlow.com) including Tai Chi Flow for Kids, Tai Chi Flow for Pregnancy (featured in Fit Pregnancy Magazine) and Tai Chi Flow for Everybody. Cooper also publishes an e-newsletter called “Living in the Flow” and was a contributing author of the book 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health.

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