Yoga for Teenagers and Adolescents in School
MOVEMENT, MINDFULNESS, BREATHWORK AND YOGA PHILOSOPHY
YOGA IN SCHOOLS
Yoga for Teenagers and Adolescents
HOW IS TEACHING YOGA TO TEENAGERS AND CHILDREN DIFFERENT TO TEACHING YOGA TO ADULTS? Teenagers and adolescents are still growing and as such, their brain development is still a work in progress. This means that the way that teenagers and adolescents process information is different than adults and that the way they will respond to teaching (or not) is linked to their brain’s structure. This development involves not only the biological but also the psychological and social changes that occur and each facet of their development is bound to show up on their mat in ways both big and small. There are many aspects to structuring the yoga class to meet the developmental needs of teenagers and adolescents and this is evident in the length, structure, content of the class and the choice of language used for different age groups. Being aware of the teenager's emerging spatial awareness and functional physical differences in anatomy and physiology help to minimise the risk of injury and maximise the physical benefit of the yoga itself. Whilst each child differs in development and in ability, kids tend to have less bodily awareness, less muscle strength, lower endurance and lower capacity for balance than adults. I teach from a place of modification, encouraging adjustments to support greater balance, and provide ample opportunity for rest. Even further, realizing that for teenagers and adolescents, growing bones are hypermobile, it is important to be aware of postures that may put vulnerable joints, especially the neck, at risk. I provide hands on assists, anatomy instruction and alignment and cues. I advocate the use of equipment (blocks/blankets/straps) to make poses more accessible and stable in an effort to help the student feel supported and nurtured.
WHAT CAN I OFFER YOUR TEENAGER OR ADOLESCENT IN SCHOOL?
Yoga within the classroom (e.g. chair- based yoga, breathing and mindfulness practices, digital wellness breaks).
Yoga as part of a PE session (45 - 60 min sessions).
Yoga as part of extra curricular activities e.g. early morning clubs/after school clubs.
Yoga as an alternative to detentions.
Yoga as part of Enrichment Day programmes (day long workshops).
Yoga during school events such as fundraisers and fetes.
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT YOGA IMPROVES HEALTH
Yoga Ed classes are backed by science and studies have shown yoga to improve physical, mental, emotional, and social health for all ages. Furthermore, Yoga Ed classes adhere to US and UK National Health and PE standards.
Yoga Ed programmes : Improve symptoms of anxiety, improve focus and attention, support mental health, Improve physical health and support academic performance
BACKGROUND TO MY TEACHING YOUNG PEOPLE
My teaching of yoga to teenagers uses brain-based evidence as a lens through which social and emotional learning can take place. Lesson plans, sequences and class structure are therefore age appropriate to consider developmental, social and environmental factors which may affect how the teenager experiences the class. My key focus is for the teenager to enjoy themselves. By drawing on ancient texts, I provide them with the necessary skills to create a positive sense of self image and confidence. They also learn to foster an empathy with others and thus feel part of a community. Practicing yoga, very importantly also facilitates the learning process needed both in and out of the school environment.
HOW DO I TEACH?
It is my aim to make yoga accessible, enjoyable and relatable for teenagers. We work in a safe, fun and friendly environment.
WHAT DO I INCLUDE IN A YOGA CLASS IN AN EDUCATIONAL SETTING?
Yoga provides us with a whole host of problem solving and calming practices to soothe and restore or invigorate and illuminate. All practices work in a holistic manner to restore equilibrium and balance in the body and mind. Learning such skills for a teenager is invaluable as it can be called upon for optimal health and wellbeing throughout the life course.
Fundamental components of my teachings are: yoga philosophy, yoga breathing and relaxation techniques, physical movement and meditation and mindfulness practices. Yoga asana (postures), stillness and strength work and yoga flows and sequences alongside anatomy instruction, alignment cues and hands-on assists help to keep the student informed and safe. With my background in teaching yoga to athletes, I also teach your teenager functional movement patterns so rather than learning to headstand for the sake of standing on one's head, learning about stretching and warming up or cooling down for example, helps them to understand how to move better in the context of what they want to do with their body. Yoga gives the teenager the opportunity to listen to and respond to their bodies, working to their edge when needed, understanding their limitations and avoiding injury or stress or joints.
Stories, discussions, games, partner work, myths, drawings, music and essential oils also help to engage the teenager in class and help foster good communication skills such as listening and patience and gives the opportunity to self-reflect and respond to challenging events in a considered manner rather than a reactive one.
Finally, classroom management and rules and expectations of behaviour aim to facilitate the smooth running of sessions and enjoyment for all.