I can vaguely remember being a teenager. It was a pretty tumultuous time. Between dealing with my hormones and those of all the other teenagers I was surrounded by it felt like I was continuously at war with myself, my peers, my teachers and my parents. I threw myself into sports and although I was quite talented, the competitive aspect of the sports I played drove me to quitting what I loved because it was no longer fun and it no longer served its purpose.
I was searching for something to give me answers. Answers to questions such as: what am I, why am I here, what do I like, what am I going to do with my life, why do I feel so tired and depressed, why can I not find common ground with the majority of the people in my class. I turned to sports, love, partying and blaming everyone else for my misfortunes and misunderstandings.
I needed to realise that all I had to do was look within. I went on a journey of self-discovery which only in my late twenties lead to yoga and mindfulness. I grew up in the late 80’s and 90’s where social media was only a tiny blink on the radar and combined with fast paced daily lives, the need for immediate gratification and extremely stressful expectations I can only imagine the daily struggles our children are having to face today.
I am a believer in prevention rather than cure. I have faith that yoga is the tool that will teach the world to look within for all the answers they may need. And for our teens, they need this tool more than ever. By teaching our children yoga they will learn how to self-regulate their emotions. They will also learn the internal physical benefits - yoga as medicine! We will teach them how to love themselves unconditionally and therefor love each other. They will learn calmness and mindfulness. They will learn how to stretch and strengthen their bodies in a non-competitive environment and they will learn unity, which is all that yoga embodies.
Most importantly they will learn to love themselves unconditionally and thus pass this love and compassion on to all beings.
I am so blessed to already be teaching children yoga for the last year. I have witnessed the outcomes of my classes and the changing mind-sets that only a month of teaching can bestow. This is the most rewarding job (if you can call it that) that I could imagine. Seeing little tears during *Savasana whilst 30 children lie dead still listening to Ra Ma Da SA (Snatam Kaur) is a life changing experience.
Below is a guide on how to do a Savasana for teens. This is an excellent way to get children to sleep at night who are suffering from anxiety and who are battling to fall asleep or stay asleep. My students love this song and even request it at the end of class:
- Start off by getting the teen to lie on their back and completely relax their entire body. You can bring their attention to each part of their body by mentioning a body part as you make your way up the body, ensure your voice is light and soothing. For example: “Relax your foot, your foot is completely relaxed. Relax your leg, your leg is completely relaxed.” Etc.
- You then start to play the song and allow them to melt into the floor or the bed as they take their final Savasana.
*Savasana is perhaps the most important part of yoga practice. Lying on the back, the arms and legs are spread at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep, using deerkha (long) pranayama (breath).