Yoga and ADHD: How to calm your ADHD brain with yoga
April 3, 2024

Yoga and ADHD: How to calm your ADHD brain with yoga

Lauren Littlewood

You’ve heard it a thousand times, “Do yoga. It will help with your stress, it’s good for your body and mind, and it helps with mental health.” But every time you try to do some yoga, your ADHD brain seems to have other plans. 

It’s hard enough to focus on a simple task half the time. Now your yoga teacher wants you to focus on their words and your pose, all while you obsess over whether you are doing it right. Then you have to remember to breathe. Yeah, right!

Yoga and ADHD just don’t seem to mix, but supposedly yoga is a great tool for ADHD symptom management

So, what’s the secret? What are you missing?

Which is the best type of yoga for someone with ADHD? Well, first, you have to know how yoga helps mental health and managing emotions. Then we can pick the ideal yoga for you and build a plan to help you achieve your yoga goals. 

With the right mixture of guidance, practice, and support, you can finally start a yoga practice you love!

How yoga helps mental health 

Everyone struggles with mental health at some point. When you have ADHD, especially if you were diagnosed later in life, finding the balance with your mental health can seem like a never-ending task. 

People with ADHD are more likely to struggle with their mental health and have higher instances of anxiety and depression. So, getting the proper support, building a self-care or mindfulness routine, and learning how to build healthy habits are key to overcoming mental health struggles. 

People with ADHD struggle with emotional dysregulation, which means your brain struggles to find the pause button. Maybe you tailspin easily when something is triggering stress or a difficult memory. Maybe you tend to go from 0 to 100 with any big emotions, ranging from happiness, to anger, to anything in between. 

Then add the intrusive thoughts, rejection sensitivity, and normal everyday stressors, and you feel like you are trying to solve a puzzle while spinning out of control in a tornado. 

When people tell you to meditate, do yoga, or take a chill pill… You just look at them and think, if my ADHD brain would let me do any of those things, don't you think I would have done them by now!

I feel you 100% on that! But, what if I told you that they were kind of right?

Hear me out…

Yoga can be ADHD friendly

Yoga calms the mind, improves mindfulness, and gives you an overall sense of wellbeing. The caveat to this is that your ADHD brain may need more support and take more time and practice to get the hang of it. 

Yoga helps: 

  • Train your focus "muscles"
  • Trigger your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest system) through breath work
  • Teach you to breathe in stressful situations (you know you forget that sometimes, it’s okay)
  • Boost the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA in your brain (all things that ADHD brains struggle with)

The general image of yoga is peaceful and flowy movements. This seems great in theory, but this is SO boring for an ADHD brain in practice. You want to get to the point where you can focus on yoga poses, breathing, and the instructor while feeling calm and, dare I say it… even ZEN. 

The trick is to find the right yoga for ADHD. One that will burn off that intense energy (mental or physical) and be interesting enough to hold your attention. 

Once you get the hang of the yoga part, you can then begin to learn how to do the meditation part. Once you know how to meditate, even a simple mindfulness meditation, you can finally start to experience the full mental health benefits of yoga and meditation.  

Which is the best yoga for ADHD?

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming, feeling antsy, or wishing you were anywhere else in the world but that yoga class? Of course! Because that type of relaxing yoga is not for your beautifully creative and active mind. 

You need something that will hold your interest, always have something new and exciting to work towards, and immediately feel good. You need active yoga! 

Before you give up on yoga completely, try these types of yoga classes and tips first.

Try active forms of yoga

Vinyasa and power yoga are more active forms of yoga. If you are unfamiliar with any yoga, a beginner's flow or vinyasa works great because it is still at that higher intensity but slow enough for you to keep up with.

Styles like Baptiste yoga and Bhakti yoga are more active and can have a much deeper mental and spiritual component depending on the studio and teacher. 

Steer clear of repetitive yoga

Yoga styles like Ashtanga may not be the best for an ADHD brain because it consists of the same poses in the same sequence every single class until every pose is mastered. Some people with ADHD can get bored quickly, with nothing new and exciting happening each week.

Add in mantras

Things like mantras or chanting can help some people with ADHD because it gives you something to mentally hold on to instead of allowing your mind to bounce from thought to thought. 

Choose a teacher you vibe with

Just as we discussed in a previous article of the importance of finding the right trainer for strength training, one of the most critical factors in yoga for ADHD is your teacher. If you don’t vibe with your teacher and their teaching style, it doesn’t matter how great the yoga is. 

You want a teacher that will challenge you without making the challenge seemingly unattainable—someone who is exciting and captivating to help you hold your attention. 

Conquer Savasana pose

At the end of the yoga class usually comes the most challenging part for an ADHD brain. Savasana or corpse pose. This is when you lay on your mat and do nothing. Yes, nothing. 

It is the final meditation before the end of class. When you’ve had an active class, you’re covered in sweat, and your mind has been stimulated to satisfaction. This part of the class can be utter bliss. 

This is the point at which you can bask in the flood of those happy neurotransmitters pulsing through your brain. The yoga high, if you will. 

This doesn’t always happen in the first class. For some people, it takes a few weeks of work to get to this yoga high level. This is where consistency comes in.

Corpse pose

Keep showing up

I know. I have told you all the fantastic ways yoga and ADHD can work, you’re all excited, and now I’m telling you to do one of the hardest things for any ADHD brain to do. Be consistent. 

While this seems impossible at times, it can become significantly easier with the right support. Creating a plan and having a support system can keep you on track toward your goals. 

Having the support to keep you focused on your vision of where you want to be mentally and physically in a month, six months, or a year can be pivotal in maintaining a consistent practice towards better mental health and building healthy habits. 

Wrap up

If you want to take control of your ADHD, improve your mental and physical health, and start a yoga practice, the right type of yoga, yoga instructor, and support system are the keys to your success. 

Trainwell (formerly CoPilot) can be the support system you need to create a plan and take consistent actions towards achieving your goal. If jumping right into a yoga class is too far outside your comfort zone, we have trainers certified in yoga that can build a simple yoga flow practice for you to do at home (with prompts guiding you along the way).   

Not interested in yoga? If you'd rather try other forms of exercise, trainwell trainers will also work with you to build a personalized plan based on your needs. They offer everything from strength training exercises, to weight training routines, to resistance training - you can work with them one on one to improve your overall health.

With trainwell's 14-day free trial, you can give it a try with no strings attached. The only thing you have to lose is your bad habits. Change your behaviors and change your life.

Start my free trainwell trial now!

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