Even Yogis Have Hyperactive Children. ~ Lisa Flynn

Via elephant journal
on May 20, 2010
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Non-Attachment Parenting.

I like to think Jack was born to me because I am a children’s yoga instructor. And, in so many ways, on so many levels, he is my teacher as well.

My 6 year old son Jack was recently diagnosed with ADD, on top of an earlier diagnosis of Sensory Integration Dysfunction (also known as Sensory Processing Disorder).

In a nutshell, his nervous system is in overdrive most of the time.

Looking back, I see symptoms of this as early as his first year. We couldn’t take him anywhere—family gatherings, the grocery store—he was so over-sensitive to noise and chaotic environments. At three years old, we noticed that he couldn’t follow simple two-step instructions. He would head in the right direction, but then promptly forget what he was doing.

At the age of four, Jack’s preschool teacher casually mentioned that he didn’t seem to hear her when she spoke, even though he passed a subsequent hearing test. And then, this last January, his kindergarten teacher pulled us in for a meeting and told us she was concerned about Jack’s inability to focus on her voice and the tasks at hand. She said that though he was not hyperactive and was generally well-behaved (and very bright), he could be loud, was easily agitated, and did not seem to be able to pick out her voice and instructions in the midst of everything else going on in the classroom.

Onto evaluations…and voila! A diagnosis of SID and ADD.

How ironic. I, his mother, not only teaches yoga and relaxation to children, but teaches adults to do the same. We yogis are apparently not exempt from having children with attention issues (which I see as an exaggerated inability to be present).

But, I like to think Jack was born to me because I am a children’s yoga instructor. And, in so many ways, on so many levels, he is my teacher as well.

Admittedly, this is not exactly the motherhood I had envisioned (picture: me practicing downdog with my peaceful children on a beach…). These last several months have been consumed by therapy sessions (I forgot to mention he’s also in physical therapy for tight heel cords/calves, flat feet and inpronation), one-on-one work with Jack at home, visits to the Naturopath, further expensive testing, time-consuming experimentation with natural remedies (ever tried to get a 6 yr. old to take a tinctures and capsules?), inventing new kid-friendly meals due to recently discovered food sensitivities to dairy/eggs, frustrations with insurance company/coverage

Well, you get the picture. Never before have I relied so much on my yoga practice.

The yama of Aparigraha, or non-possessiveness/non-attachment, tells us that holding on to possessions or ideas causes suffering. Letting go of our attachments eases suffering. From a mother’s perspective, this can feel like an oxymoron. Isn’t it our job to protect and fix—to do anything and everything in our power to make sure our child is happy and well? Sort of.

The truth is, as much as I’m looking for it, I can not control whether or not all of these therapies and natural approaches will improve Jack’s ability to focus or lessen his symptoms. It’s possible that after everything—the time, energy, money, worry—he will still need medication during school hours (more on this in Part II).

I remind myself that there is probably no miracle cure, and I’m trying hard to be okay with that. I need to accept the fact that Jack’s happiness and well-being are not completely in my control. And, my happiness and well-being is not dependent on it.

As a parent, that’s a tough pill to swallow (no pun intended).

Remembering the following has been helpful:

Practicing non-attachment does not mean loving our kids any less…It means loving them for who they are.

Jack is Jack, whether or not he has special needs or culturally determined “issues.” He’s kind, funny, smart, and his snaggle-toothed smile melts my heart. As I head in now to peek over the railing of Jack’s top bunk, I relish the moment, this moment, watching the peaceful, beautiful boy who is my son. I suddenly feel no need to change, fix or control—just love.

Fortunately, that’s the easy part.

Lisa Flynn is the founder of ChildLight Yoga™ and Yoga 4 Classrooms™, two popular, effective programs for parents, teachers and yoga therapists to learn to share yoga with children.  Lisa trains and speaks at many locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.  For more information, visit ChildLight Yoga™ on Facebook, Twitter or on their blog.


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11 Responses to “Even Yogis Have Hyperactive Children. ~ Lisa Flynn”

  1. Jack was born to you, because you are the so non-judgmental woman who gets it and could step up to the challenge of raising a beautiful, sensitive, son. The other stuff will only make Jack a more wonderful, caring person and an oh so proud Mom, Dad and sister. Jack is the type of person that makes smiles real.

  2. nancy says:

    I loved this post.! Your honesty and sharing are fantastic, thanks for that. As parents and yogis I think sometimes we think that we should be all chill and never let anything bother us. In reality we are human and our yoga just allows us a chance to get away from it all. Being a parent is NOT for the faint of heart: it is hard, and brutal and painful. But is also the most wonderful experience in the world. Yoga for me helps to balance the challenges and the joy, and provides me a way to have a few moments of quiet in the chaos of mom-dom. Kudos to you and how lucky your son is to have such a wonderful and loving mother.

  3. Sharon says:

    Great Post! It is comforting to know that there are other yoga instructors out there who have struggles with their own children. We are all human. Parenting has been the hardest most rewarding job I have ever had. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am glad that I have found yoga and am able to use it myself and with my family.

  4. Lisa Flynn says:

    Thanks so much Nancy. Yes, the juxtaposition of yogi'ness' and motherhood…wow Certainly, these beautiful young beings are my ultimate teachers in this grand journey. My greatest challenge, as it probably is for most, has been learning how to practice yoga all the time – inside for sure, but more importantly, outside of the yoga studio. I've had fabulous conversations with fellow yogi parents who (reluctantly) admit that even when they find success as a yogi in most parts of their lives, their yoga practice can really be tried to the max in regards to their experiences as a parent. I would love to see more posts on the topic of parenting and yoga as, like you say, I think many of us feel we have to 'perfect' in order to be teachers. The truth is, it's the mistakes and trip ups along the way that make for the best stories and teaching points. Personally, I'll tumble, fall, trip and land flat on my face 1000 times over if it means I'm learning something – particularly as it relates to being a mother. There is no better role imaginable and it's certainly worth all the cuts and scrapes.

  5. Christine Baker says:

    I am an ADHD adult and had the same sensory problems as a kid that Jack does. It was a struggle growing up. Yoga has actually calmed my ADHD and increased my concentration significantly. I use that in conjunction with reiki and I also use a hemi-sync CD made for people with ADD/ADHD,and dyslexia that balances the left and right sides of the brain for concentration and focus. It takes a while to figure out what works for you and doesn't. You'll eventually figure what works for Jack and what doesn't. I also eat less sugar and my produce is organic. My diet is not 100% perfect, but I make small possible changes instead of getting overwhelmed by the big picture.

  6. anonymous says:

    I have a 12-year-old son recently diagnosed with ADD and decided to try neurofeedback with him. Haven't done enough yet to assess it but he's saying that it's helping. if you're interested, read the chapter on ADHD in a book called, A Symphony in the Brain. I am also a yoga teacher, and my reasoning is that neurofeedback is like like learning to meditate with the help of computerized feedback — which actually shows whether you are keeping your brain waves patterns where you want them or not. I'm hopeful it will help.

  7. Mira Binzen says:

    Lisa, thank you for writing this. Jack is lucky to have you for his mom.

    In this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/

    Alan Sroufe points out that the drugs typically prescribed for attention and focus issues are effective for about 6-8 weeks. He was my professor in college at the Institute of Child Development at the University of MN. Highly regarded specialist… These medications, his studies have found, can also impede development.

    Fortunately, the practice of yoga helps tremendously, as you already know – especially alternate nostril breathing, sun salutations and yoga nidra. It's engaging for children and has no negative side effects. It's SO important that we broaden the conversation since there has been a 600% increase in the diagnosis of ADD in the last decade. ADD in children is a societal issue more so than a medical condition and should be treated as such. Thank you for bringing up this important topic.

  8. […] I don’t care if they call it meditation—mindfulness, deep breathing, transcendental meditation. The bottom line is, it’s an effective tool to increase focus, reduce stress and calm down children. […]

  9. […] There are the hyper kids who act as if they were a blown up balloon that just got popped…over and over […]

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