Adult ADD is a laborious concern for society. According to the NHS, it has escalated to an 80% increase in the past five years. This represents only those who have actually received a formal diagnosis. Not to mention, those who are on the six-month assessment waiting list. Plus, the number of people who are unaware that they actually have the disorder. Those who have struggled through complex and frustrating lives think that is just the way they are.
Adult ADD reveals itself less intensely than child ADHD. Adults seldom experience the hyperactivity that is associated with children. Instead, they compensate with dissociation or ‘zoning out’ as Gabor Mate explains so wonderfully in his book, Scattered Minds. ADD in adults may also show up as carelessness, lack of attention to detail, continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones, poor organizational skills, inability to focus or prioritize, and ineffective when it comes to coping with stress. The list goes on.
The fast-paced, digital, hedonic treadmill culture of today causes even the clearest of minds to cry out for antagonists of all forms to bring them back to balance…welcome to the world of the urban wellbeing movement.
The word Yoga is found on every gym timetable, and on social media captions with a model wearing matching lulu lemons. The avant-garde take on ancient tradition. The all-embracing spread of Yoga is undoubtedly a positive thing, however, when things are spread out, they are often diluted.
The modus operandi of current Yoga classes has the student's attention focussing outwards, towards the teacher, with music playing in the background. If the class is not in a flow style then there is potential for stopping and starting. These factors make it incredibly easy for the ADD brain to proverbially, leave the building.
Ashtanga Yoga, however, is a whole different style, it is not for the faint-hearted. The experience of a typical Yoga class at the gym vs a ninety-minute Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga class is beyond compare, but I’ll give it my best shot.
In light of the possibility that there is the same number of styles of Yoga as there are types of cars these days. Ashtanga Yoga is like a 1967 Chevy Corvette, it's old, long, fast, easy on the eye, and has marvelous detail.
Ashtanga is practiced as a self-practice, practice. Whereby that the students know the sequence before coming to a class. Absolute beginners are required to go to a course and learn the series, so that when they go to a class the teacher is there as a presence, to adjust their bodies and provide guidance in and out of the postures, rather than demonstrating.
This means that all of the attention is contained within the student themselves. This provides an opportunity for ADD diagnosees to practice honing their thoughts in on the present moment experience, and witness their dissociation.
The practice is consistent, in the same sequence, in the same order, five days a week. This encourages routine, something many people with ADD struggle to maintain. With time the practice becomes deeper rather than more varied. In addition to this, the depth of the practice adds more value, because the student is able to witness minor improvements over time, as they are repeating the same postures, and the progression encourages positive reinforcement. Bringing the student a sense of empowerment and motivation, that can overcome common feelings of depression and anxiety in ADD patients.
The practice begins with ten sun salutations to warm up the body. Followed by standing postures, seated postures, and a closing sequence. It is a dynamic movement, with each posture being held for five breaths. Practitioners first start with the primary series, and when those postures are mastered, the second series is introduced. Then the advanced ABCD (90% of people remain in the primary series), so yes, it is impressive.
The vigor of the movement itself has physical benefits approximate to a strength and endurance workout for one hour. Thus, the benefits associated with ADD and fitness also apply to that Ashtanga Yoga. The sheer vigor improves physical strength rapidly and promotes an athletic physique. And quite frankly, leaves students too zen to give a damn about insignificant matters thereafter.
It is apparent that as a society we should encourage more antagonists into the lives of everyone, not just those who have been diagnosed with ADD. But for those with do have this disorder, Ashtanga Yoga is a medication-free, moving meditation that with consistent practice promotes a strong body and mind.
Worth a try?