The teenage years can be difficult at the best of times, but in moments of conflict such as parents separating or the increasing expectations placed upon young people to succeed, it can be a time of great transition and change.
Nurturing the connection between mind and body is paramount for older children in yoga. Facilitating the relationship between the individual’s physical presence and their mental well-being is a positive and proactive way to discover one’s inner strength and wisdom regardless of any obstacles they may face.
From Choas to Calm
Yoga in schools is becoming increasingly popular to promote better concentration and self-esteem, help beat anxiety, and calm stress and emotional imbalance. Teaching yoga to teens gives them the tools to help themselves feel better physically and mentally, which I feel should be embraced fully by more schools.
The Institute of Psychological Sciences at the University of Leeds are proving just that. Amy Morgan’s research asks young people to explain the benefits of yoga in order to gain a deeper insight of this particular age group in a school setting.
Her study “gives a greater insight into the needs of young people and how negative influences, such as stress and external pressures can be reduced.” This supports the idea that teen yoga classes can lead to a path of self empowerment. Here’s how…
At this age, guided meditations are a huge plus. They encourage an exploration of the inner mind, and trust me, there is great magic in this process. The goal is to introduce adolescents to their own thoughts:
- Where does their mind take them?
- What do they keep coming back to?
- What is troubling them?
By taking the time to intimately listen to themselves, they are allowing their concerns to be acknowledged. This in itself is a powerful self-affirming practice, one that ultimately improves concentration and opens up communication towards resolution or release.
Spending too much time at the computer or carrying heavy bags also takes its toll. Tight muscles, for example, are a direct link to tension headaches. There is great value in regularly lengthening the muscles and working at improved posture. Teaching our teenagers physical awareness that enables them to notice points of tension, and then adopt an appropriate posture to counter it, is a fantastic way to practice self-care and to independently re-establish balance and equilibrium.
Teenagers enjoy being pushed with more challenging postures and they want to be trusted to make certain choices by themselves, for themselves. By giving them the tools to listen to their own minds and to tune in to their own bodies they are being handed the key to unlocking their deeper selves. This is what I find magical about the entire process, especially at this age. When they are able to access that core, there is a growing self-awareness and self-acceptance as well as a calmness in relation to the world around them.
I also encourage group work at this age. Being collectively physical develops an interactive creativity, whilst opening up the idea of kindness and compassion towards others. Working alongside other minds and bodies strengthens the connection of the group as well as their connection to the world around them. This in turn cultivates an emotional maturity and intuition.
This age group like to explore and test boundaries. When leading a class of teenage yogis I like to create healthy boundaries where we respect the space we practice in and respect our fellow class participants. Of course being mutually respectful listening to me, their teacher, and vice-versa listening to my students.
Empowerment For Adolescence
The culmination of this mind-body awareness is a flourishing physical and mental consciousness. A consciousness that, despite uncontrollable events and influences, is able to self sooth and energize. For me, these are such valuable and essential tools for every teenager. Tools that magically dissipate confusion and frustrations and initiate empowerment and self respect.
I would love to hear about how yoga is a part of your child(ren)’s life, at any age! Does your school integrate yoga into their school day? Do you practice together? Childhood is the most exciting time to introduce someone to yoga, and the results never cease to be anything but fascinating!