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Why is teen yoga essential

As a teen you are not an adult and yet are expected in so many ways to show maturity and to behave how others expect, Teen years are challenging and exciting, a period when there should be exploration rather than conforming to expectations. Teen years are a period for establishing identity based on past, present and future events.

During adolescence, the brain and the pre frontal cortex is surging with growth. What you learn as an adolescent can carve out neurological pathways (motorways in the head) that will impact your mind and body behaviour for life. It is natural to want to push away from your parents and be with your peers. You want to belong. You want to be liked but this can mean you feel pressure to conform when this is the phase of your life when you should be exploring who you truly are.

The teenage brain needs;

  • Emotional Spark
  • Social Engagement
  • Novelty
  • Creative exploration

Yoga meets these needs and helps with;

  • finding your identity
  • feeling more acceptance and contentment
  • helping alignment and setting up patterns of movement
  • building confidence and exploring challenges with playful ease
  • becoming resilient to changes and developing a better perspective
  • reducing stress, anxiety and depression
  • feeling grounded and safe

Who does yoga appeal to

Sporty students do yoga to develop performance in their game.

Non sporty people like yoga because it’s a non-competitive way to keep active.

Boys practise it to increase stamina, strength and confidence in relation to their body as it grows and changes.

Girls enjoy relaxation and flexibility exercises which promote emotional and physical wellbeing.

Students with Special Educational Needs enjoy and benefit from stretching and relaxation.

How yoga works

Movement

So necessary during the adolescence years. The brain is learning how to move the body in the most effective and efficient way. Playful and explorative movement helping to lay down the pattern of movement. The science surrounding this is that the myelin sheath is developing and strengthening, if movement is not in your life at this critical stage of development then the myelin is not developing and there may be neurological disorders in later life as a result and movement impaired. Yoga and creative movement is fun and exhilarating. Helping to build confidence. If the body is more open then energy is flowing more freely and the body and mind can develop more fully.

Breath awareness

A gateway to soothing anxiety. Many teens breathing in the chest and this is causing many disorders. We forget how to breathe well and we are detached from the breath and the breath is more rapid. The body is over stimulated and adrenalin levels are increased and stress and anxiety builds causing us to over react. Simply being aware of the breath can shift the breathing to have greater quality and improve wellness. 

Mindfulness

We are living in a over stimulated world. Unplug yourself from your device, your external world and just be. It takes practice and can be very challenging. Being more mindful means you make better life choices. You eat more wisely, you consider others and you take responsibility rather than blaming others for outcomes. You realise that the little things are not important and the big things become the little things.

Relaxation and restoration

Hit the pause button. Feel supported by the earth. Find peace. Rest is necessary. Rest is vital. Rest is where the body heals itself. If we are constantly on the go, the body and mind are not able to recover before there is another onslaught. We feel guilty when we rest. Society expecting us to always be performing. Take back control and listen to your needs. As a teen you get bored easily so relaxation needs to be interesting. Visualisations are a great way to encourage restoration with focus to satisfy the curiosity of the mind and to keep the mind occupied.

The Results

Feedback captured during Q1 2019 in-school yoga delivered by Jo Burningham;

Nervous/stressed

The number of students that reported feeling nervous/stressed as fairly often/very often decreased from 88.57% to 52.78%

Ability to cope

The number of students that reported feeling unable to control the important things in their life as never/almost never has increased from 19.44% to 33.33%

Angered of things outside of their control

The number of students that reported feeling angered because of things that were outside of their control as fairly often/very often has decreased from 47.22% to 17.14%

Feeling useful

Thoughts of feeling useful often/all of the time have increased from 30.56% to 54.29%

Ability to deal with problems

Being able to deal with problems often/all of the time has increased from 25% to 47.22%

Ability to think clearly

Thinking clearly often/all of the time has increased from 36.11% to 44.44%

Closeness to others

61.11% of students reported that they felt close to others often/all of the time before and this increased to 72.22% after

 

Sleep quality

28.57% of students reported that their sleep was good and above before the course and this has increased to 40% after the course

The Science

Stress is a autonomic response when we sense fear through our neuroception or our gut feelings/our 6th sense. Once our stress response is triggered our system produces adrenalin to prepare us to fight/flight or freeze but if we don't then use this adrenalin, due to being sedentary, our mind then becomes more anxious (due to sensory feedback) and we may trigger the stress loop where the HPA axis continues to fire. It is therefore vital to move to de-stress the body and then calm and soothe the mind. 

Feeling closer to others is of significance as we understand better the polyvagal theory and that our social bonds are vital. Having these bonds makes us feel safe/secure and content. As a result, we lower our stress levels and our capacity to learn is increased.

> Read more about neuroception and polyvagal theory

Relaxation helps us to down regulate our nervous system so that we are less 'wired' and we build resilience by feeling more safe. Our neuroception is less hyper vigilant and we build from this foundation, exploring from a sense of safety. We explore how we can overcome our fear and be more courageous and seize opportunities with a different perspective.

Sleep is vital. It allows our body to rest and restore and the science behind sleep is that this is where thoughts are committed to long term memory or discarded. There is strong scientific evidence to indicate that improving sleep quality increases the capacity to retain information and improves memory.

More Information

If you wish to know more about

  • In school/academy courses
  • yoga classes in school/academy for teachers

Please email or phone; 07968 774807

> Read more if you wish to train as an accredited Teen Yoga teacher with the Teen Yoga Foundation.

> Read more research and article on the benefits of yoga for young people.

Change in my flexibility

I started yoga over 3 months ago and I have noticed a dramatic change in my flexibility. I started doing yoga for my D of E bronze and have continued it even though my course has finished. When I first came to yoga I was ridiculously inflexible but after only a few weeks I noticed my flexibility improving.

Amazing for stress relief

Not only is yoga good for strength, it is also amazing for stress relief. I am in year 10 and I have found that when I am preparing to enter an exam and I am nervous the breathing I learnt really helps me stay calm.

Really beneficial

Yoga is really beneficial for you. It is about making your muscles stronger and your body more flexible. It has the same benefits as going to the gym but less stressful.

Move faster

You see improvements in yourself when you’re competing in sport. You can move faster.

Really helpful

Yoga is like time out space in the middle of the week to take you away from exam stress and everything. You can put things to one side for about an hour and it’s really helpful.

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