Five reasons every teen should take up yoga

yoga gives teens breathing space

five reasons every teen should take up yoga

1.Breathing Space

How do you feel by the end of Wednesday? Amplify it! This is probably how the average teen feels most of the time. Between the pressures of schools and exams, we are placing more and more demands on young people to have a packed schedule of activities; then there are social obligations and the buzz, buzz of social media. Yoga gives teens breathing space; sometimes quite literally. Focussing on the breath gives young people the opportunity to self regulate and to give a frazzled nervous system some respite. Learning this simple tool holds them in good stead for times when they meet greater challenges such as exams.

2. Positive Body Image

The accelerated changes taking place in every teenage body can at times feel unsettling.  Yoga offers young people a wonderful tool to navigate this change. Can you remember that feeling? When what once felt right, suddenly felt different?  By helping young people understand that each day, our bodies feel different and by focussing on the positive within their own bodies rather than comparing themselves to peers or unattainable ideals, young people are able to grow into their own potential.  As well as helping young people to view their bodies in a positive light, by lowering the stress response, yoga helps young people to grow better with a healthy immune system, balanced hormones and the ability to bring themselves into a more balanced stage.

3. Greater Connection

Finding your own voice and those with whom you feel most at home is a huge part of the adjustment made by teenagers as they learn to become independent.  Yoga can play a fantastic role in supporting young people to make friendships in a positive way, recognising when things are going well and how to manage when things aren’t.   Yoga helps teens make better choices and learn to pause before acting in ways that can seem overly impulsive or impetuous. These findings were supported by a research study conducted by Leeds University in 2013.

4. Better focus and enhanced learning capacity

Sometimes in yoga, you have to focus, or you might literally find yourself falling over.  Wobbles are certainly a part of balancing and yoga helps you to cope with the wobbles and falls, but it also supports teens in learning how to balance.  What is true literally is certainly true metaphorically, and in addition to this, yoga helps young people to learn by balancing areas of their lives that may be disturbed.  The combination of physical activity which helps with good circulation and blood flow, better breathing and relaxation promotes better sleep but also helps with learning. How?  Well, the parts of the brain that are associated with learning are the same ones that shut down when stressed. A stressed individual cannot learn. We are programmed to flee when we feel threatened.  We aren’t going to hang around to learn, explore or experiment. A calm and relaxed individual, and one that is open-minded will be able to learn more effectively and will retain this knowledge. Yoga is a powerful tool to help support young people’s learning.

5. Coping with change and challenge

Yoga helps young people to slow down, feel more connected within their families, friendship groups and schools and more comfortable in their bodies.  It lowers stress and fosters good sleep, relaxation, smart decision making and can help increase focus and learning. In a fast changing world, yoga also helps young people to cope with change and challenge and develop discernment in how hard to push themselves.  Rather than blame themselves for things that are not within their control, yoga teaches self-control, composure and calmness when faced with challenge. The result is resilient young adults.

Teen Yoga Classes in Earlsfield and leyton

I’m delighted to be running regular teen yoga classes at Martial Arts & Yoga (MA&Y) in Earlsfield on Saturday mornings and Leyton Yoga in East London on Wednesday afternoons. In my classes we focus on feel good yoga which supports participants to discover how simple movements paired with breathing enhances a positive mood. Fun sequences develop strength, flexibility and stamina in a supportive and friendly atmosphere. Everyone aged 11-16 is welcome and the classes are suitable for beginners as well as those who have previously done yoga.