Yoga Practice for the Teen Body, Mind and Spirit
Yoga to most adult practitioners means unity of the body and the mind. When practicing yoga, they also believe that this union can bring quiet to one’s heart and help bring awareness to the most loving part of the self. Some teens are not aware that yoga and meditation offer these additional benefits. When introducing yoga to teenagers, they easily gain an appreciation for this concept and are eager to explore the mystery behind it.
Teens, like adults, are stressed out and anxious about many issues. They are inundated with violence directly or indirectly from media, bullying at school, peer pressure and even their own family drama. Today, especially in the U.S., the practice of yoga in some of our public schools has helped students learn to focus on new ways to relax. By taking time for stretching the body along with deep breathing exercises, teens are better able to cope with most stressors and anxiety-based issues they may be facing, finding peace and harmony within themselves first, and then in their lives.
Yoga can also help provide much needed downtime for stressed out teens. The practice of sitting quietly and closing one’s eyes, concentrating only on listening to the inhalation and exhalation of the breath, can work wonders. When faced with pressures to make hasty decisions about using alcohol, drugs or relationship issues, a yoga practice can assist teens to choose from a more centered and relaxed place.
A teen’s body image may also improve through a yoga practice as he or she learns to focus on how one feels on the inside, instead of how one looks on the outside. Yoga is individual; comparing oneself to another isn’t part of the experience. The ultimate goal is to stay in the moment. Even teenagers agree, that when they are in the moment, they don’t worry about the past or the future, only the cultivation of peaceful feelings inside.
Angela Jamal, B.S., MEd, has been a Boston public school health and physical education teacher for 25 years, and has taught yoga in schools since 2000. She is also the author of an upcoming new book The Spiritual Teen: A Path of Awakening to the Real You. Contact at AJamal476@yahoo.com.
Comments from Teens about Yoga:
“One thing that I really noticed is for the first time practicing yoga, I forgot all of the stress of school. I think it helped me focus. I think it’s relaxing, which I really need in my senior year. I’ve never done anything like it.” Cindy, 17
“I think yoga is kind of weird, but it helped me a lot. It helped me with my stress.” Frank, 16
“Yoga helped me with my breathing. I use the breathing techniques as a way for me to calm down when I am upset.” Abdul, 15
“I like yoga. I find it very relaxing, but it took me a while to feel comfortable at first. After practicing for a while, it was better. It’s calming and you can teach others.” Zachary, 18