Yoga For Teenagers

Yoga isn’t just for adults - teenagers can receive tremendous benefits from it as well not only in health and fitness but in all kinds of life areas. Teenagers are in a crucial stage of life - one where they are just learning to figure themselves out and cope with the challenges that life presents them and its a time in their young lives where yoga can be an extremely helpful tool.

Developing a yoga practice as a teen can give you the options of responding to life challenges in different ways that can shape your whole life. For many teens yoga can make a big difference in the path that their lives take because of the lesson it teaches them early on.

Instead of growing up worrying about how skinny or athletic they are and comparing themselves to their friends they can develop a good sense of self esteem as well as a healthy body image instead of the one modern society often forces on them. They can also learn to develop self-discipline and harness their will power to accomplish things. They can learn to set goals and stick to them until completion and they can have a fit and healthy body at a time when so many around them will be eating snack food and living off soda.

Yoga teaches teenagers to develop healthy, useful habits at a time in their life when those habits are going to determine the way they live the rest of their lives. It’s all too easy for teens to become depressed, apathetic, unhappy, and end up making choices that don’t serve them - such as doing poorly in school, getting involved in drugs or with friends that make similarly destructive choices. Yoga can foster a community of like-minded individuals that can serve as a support system for a teenager that may not have such a luxury at home.

However, yoga with teens is also substantially different than a class with adults or even small children. Teenagers are naturally curious and inquisitive and they also aren’t afraid to test the knowledge of their teachers and this can be a push for teachers to sharpen up their teaching skills as well as to stay current on new movements and trends within the yoga community. Many teachers have found that when teaching teenagers yoga you have to be especially “on” your game as teenagers will call out any discrepancy or error they see.

Teachers should also be aware of keeping order within their yoga class. Teenagers live by fewer rules of decorum and etiquette than most adults do and won’t be afraid to let their personalities shine through during class. However, no teacher wants to reprimand or stifle their yoga students so instead just offer them guidance and structure. A yoga class that has specific methods and routines will be much easier for teenagers to work with. The world of a teenager is chaotic enough - don’t add to the stress of that by offering them a wild and crazy yoga class. What they need is stability and focus. So make sure that your class has set standards, times, dress policies and so forth. It doesn’t have to be a rigid, zero-fun environment but it should have a sense of structure and seriousness.

It’s also helpful to encourage students to be kind and respectful to one another during class which means no talking, socializing, or the like - that way everyone can get what they came to class for. It’s also a good idea to have a firm no cell phones rule because plenty of students will simply put their phones on silent or vibrate - both of which can still be a distraction and a disturbance to the class. Be sure that you remain strong in upholding the rules of the class - letting students get away with warnings and such will undermine your authority in the long run. If you say it - mean it.

At the same time it’s important that you have some understanding for your students. They’re in a difficult time of their life and the need all the support and encouragement they can get so while it may be important that you enforce the rules of your class it’s also important to do so in a way that allows your students to see that the rules and structure of your class are there for the benefit of everyone.

It’s also important to remember that the dynamics of a teenage based class can be quite different than that of an adult class. Teenagers are automatically more self conscious than most adults are so it helps to take the focus off of any comparing or judging they may be doing throughout the class. One way to do this is to give plenty of reinforcement and positive encouragement all through class and not to single out any one student as having done something right or wrong. It’s also a good idea to have a few challenging poses because they will require students to focus and concentrate on the task at hand instead of looking around the room and wondering about all the others. Also remind them to focus on their own breath and their own bodies as they practice.

Overall yoga can be a huge help to teens as they navigate the early years of their life. It can help them stay calm and centered through tough times as well as give them tools and resources for making important decisions and taking big steps in life. Yoga can help them choose friends wisely, avoid bad habits that might harm them, and develop a sense of who they are and where they want to go. Yoga can be a big factor in the way the lives of many young teenagers play out if they only give it a shot. The benefits, everything from physical fitness, to mental health, to social acceptance, are things that can take years to learn and aquire otherwise. Yoga gives teenagers an opportunity to build those habits and skills at an early age before the more difficult parts of life catch up to them. As long as they keep an open mind and pursue their yoga with dedication their practice can make a world of difference.