By Donna K Freeman
Yoga is well known as a great full body workout and a way to manage stress. These same benefits apply when teens do yoga. As well, there are a myriad of other ways in which yoga helps alleviate many of the concerns specific to the chaotic world in which teens live.
First yoga helps teens de-stress. Between academic pressure and the social jungle that is Junior and Senior High School, teen lives are extremely stressful. There is a significant amount of peer pressure. They have to make decisions which impact the rest of their lives. Their schedules are filled to overfull with school, sports, part-time jobs and a social life. Their hormones are completely out of balance most of the time. Yoga helps teens deal with all of these challenges. It teaches them to look inward for inspiration, to connect with themselves. Furthermore, it provides training in relaxation techniques and breathing exercises which promote calm and stimulate the relaxation response.
Second yoga is a full body workout which builds strength, increases flexibility, improves balance, develops coordination, reduces fatigue, clears the mind, stimulates the immune system, and invigorates the entire body. Yoga means ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’ and works at bringing into harmony the body, breath and mind. A regular yoga workout will stabilize core muscles, engage the mind, and challenge teens on all levels.
Third yoga helps teens develop confidence and improve their self-esteem. The physical changes inherent in adolescence often lead to poor self-image. Yoga focuses on accepting they body as it is today while working toward improvement. Learning to stand with proper posture, to carry oneself with confidence, to find the beauty within and without are all repercussions of a regular yoga practice. In addition, yoga helps to develop creativity and is a means for self-expression through journalling, yoga dance, flow sequences, guided meditation, and other outlets.
Fourth yoga provides a foundation for lifelong health to all teens regardless of ability, gender, race, age, or socio-economic status. The yoga mat is a level playing field. There are no tests, no competitions. Athletes will discover a wonderful cross-training tool. Non-athletes will learn to appreciate and care for their bodies and minds. Teens who engage in self-destructive behaviours can find a healthy and challenging way to experiment and push boundaries. Teen yoga classes are a place to feel comfortable, to receive positive reinforcement and encouragement, and to provide a means for lifelong health and vitality.
Teens truly can benefit from yoga. They are at a perfect age to develop good habits. Their innate curiosity and desire for self-expression work beautifully to create fun and dynamic yoga classes. Yoga in turn empowers them with confidence and peace, allowing them to live their lives to the fullest.
Donna Freeman is a yoga instructor, teacher, mother of four, and honey to 1. She has been doing yoga since 1997 and teaching it since 2002. Passionate about yoga for kids and teens, she loves showing parents and teachers how to share the joy of yoga with children of all ages. Visit http://www.yogainmyschool.com/ for all you ever wanted to know about yoga for kids and teens.