Teen Spirit – Why do Teens do Yoga?
Why do Teens do Yoga
By Veronica Greene (printed in Om magazine May 2018)
Nearly everyone can list the benefits of yoga…………increased fitness; better body awareness; better posture; balanced hormones; increased immunity; lower stress and all round better health and wellbeing.
These factors attract many pupils to yoga classes of varied disciplines but often are not enough to keep them attending on a continued basis.
Kids can also achieve the same benefits from yoga and can be enticed by making the yoga class great fun with games or stories or roll play.
What about teenagers?
Teens are at that awkward stage. Questions are never answered by a simple yes or no when one has shoulders that can be shrugged; eye contact is often reserved for very good friends or the family pet; hoods are clearly meant to be up indoors and suddenly the ability to speak without mumbling has been lost.
Nobody understands them and “what’s the point”, so why would they attend a yoga class?
Clearly there is a demand given the number of Teen Yoga Teacher Training courses on the market but do they attend of their own accord or do their mother’s make them?
I’ve been teaching teenagers yoga for about 12 years. I run classes in schools and tailor the class for my audience.
If I’m working with students around exam time then I’ll work on balancing postures for concentration and relaxing postures to help them achieve a good night’s sleep.
If I’m working with a sports team I’ll introduce postures which will help improve a particular sport and if I’m working with the football team I will ‘man up’ my yoga teaching style……………..sorry but it’s true!
So classes are tailored to my audience.
But what about my main stream, public, teen classes? They don’t play for the same team, study the same subjects or have the same personality type. The only thing they share is an abundance of hormones and a love for hoodies!
I decided to sit my girls’ teen class down and ask a few questions about what brings them to yoga and what keeps them coming back. The class is made up of 15 girls. 6 of the girls have been doing yoga with me for more than 6 years and have graduated into the teen class, from my kid’s classes. 4 of the girls are quite shy. 5 are sporty ‘jock’ types and 2 do no other form of exercise! 5 are ‘A’ students while 3 of the girls are not keen on school.
Why do you come to yoga?
“It’s helps me relax and I feel less anxious.”
I have asthma and my attacks are less if I keep coming to yoga. It also gets rid of the tension in my shoulders”
“I like the people here.”
“Helps me stretch my muscles out after a weekend of playing hockey.”
What parts of the yoga class do you like?
“Relaxation at the end!”
“Shoulderstands with a chair”
What parts of the yoga class to you dislike?
“Head down dog!”
Do you practice at home?
“Sometimes when I’m stressed”
“When I can’t sleep I’ll do some of the breathing exercises.”
“When my muscles are really tight, I’ll stretch them out.”
How would you feel about a mixed class?
“I don’t mind if the boys are good looking?”
“I wouldn’t want that as then we couldn’t ask questions.”
“I’d feel weird doing head down dog.”
The more we chatted the more they opened up about their yoga class and what it meant to them. It became clear that although the girls were all very different they felt they shared this common bond of yoga. They encouraged each other in some of the trickier postures. They felt comfortable enough to discuss hormones, skin breakouts and issues with friends or teachers. The ‘jocks’ were kind to the shy girls. The 12 year olds looked up to the 18 year olds and the 18 year olds in return would give them the time of day.
I sat back and watched this group of teens interact. A group who were very different as individuals and who would probably never be friends outside the yoga studio. A group of teens that only ever came together to share this bond for 1 hour a week. It then struck me that the yoga studio was just like the detention room in the 1985 film the ‘Breakfast Club’, where total strangers, with nothing in common meet, share a moment and accept each other for what and who they are.
A cult movie, even in modern times – let’s hope my yoga class is the same!
Veronica Greene founded Little Greene Yoga® and offers a Certified Children’s Teacher Training package (3-5yrs; 5-8yrs; 8-12yrs, Teen – Mind & Body & Postnatal Yoga)