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Utkatasana, also known as the Chair Pose, is a standing yoga posture that strengthens the legs and generates heat in the body. This pose is commonly...
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Did you know that 80% of the American population does not meet the recommended exercise guidelines? Concerning teenagers, they should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily to improve and strengthen their bones, muscles, and cardiovascular system. As a result, adequately supporting their physical development.
There are close to 22 million youth aged 13 to 19 in America, representing almost 15% of the population. Yoga is a good activity for teenagers because it can be modified to each person’s ability and performed at various intensities. Whether their goals are to improve well-being emotionally, physically, mentally, or all of the above, yoga can help teenagers get where they need to be.
A Teenager is between 13 to 19 years old. As they transition into adulthood, teens are often keen to try new things to navigate their newly found independence. During these years, they frequently have problems with identity, feel misunderstood and experience miscommunication. The issues teens face are often overlooked, underestimated, or not taken seriously.
Fortunately, yoga for teens is a comprehensive system that can not only prevent but also help resolve these issues. It can assist teens in regulating their emotions and other common problems to help them navigate through their teenage years more effectively. Here’s how:
Obesity and overweight: Problems related to weight for teenagers continue to rise, affecting one in five (20.6%) adolescents aged 12 to 19 in America. People who are overweight have a higher risk of developing many different health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, joint pains, sleep apnea, breathing problems, and even psychological effects. Many yoga weight-control programs can help teenagers fight obesity by promoting reductions in weight gradually and moderately. They use long and frequent yoga sessions, yoga-based dietary components, residential components, and home practice. Practicing yoga is associated with reducing body mass index and can be a healthy way for teenagers to avoid becoming overweight and live healthier.
Bullying: Adolescents deal with bullying far too frequently, which can cause psychological damage. Yoga increases self-esteem by building inner strength. The meditation aspects of yoga can be very positive and uplifting for teenagers and help them view their flaws in a new light. This can combat bullying and give people a chance to build a better relationship with themselves, so they pull back on taking it out on other people. Yoga influences power by teaching practitioners not to have reactive responses and to be your best self. This helps you to find your inner strength and peace. Whether you are taking your problems out on other people or having them do the same to you, yoga can help us all find a place of contentment and put an end to bullying.
Acne: When children enter their teenage years, they often go through face acne. It is one of the most common issues for teenagers and can often cause emotional distress. Chronic inflammation that causes acne is often closely related to an unhealthy lifestyle. For teenagers, this may include a poor diet, weight gain and stress, causing persistent inflammation. Yoga can help teenagers learn to live a healthier life by encouraging a better diet. In addition, engaging in yoga as a relaxing activity can decrease stress. The combination of eating healthier, lowering stress, and participating in yoga as a moderate exercise supports a healthier lifestyle reducing the inflammation that causes acne.
Self-esteem and body image: Almost all teenagers suffer from low self-esteem and have a poor body image at one point or another. Low self-esteem is a thinking disorder that causes individuals to view themselves as inadequate and even worthless in extreme cases. When teenagers approach yoga with an open mind, they can significantly improve their body image. Yoga is a tool for body appreciation, inner reflection, and healthy movement, enhancing active practitioners' body image and mental health. By focusing on the inner journey that brings individual awareness of body, mind, breath, and engaging in the present moment, you can escape the world and shift your focus to what is inside you. It teaches gratitude for yourself and your body, which can remove negative thoughts about the self. Although most people have a positive experience of increasing self-esteem through yoga, some people report negative impacts by comparing themselves to others in their class. It would be best to find a yoga teacher who reinforces gratitude and a class with a diverse group of people. This will assist them to focus on themselves, ultimately helping increase their self-esteem and body image.
Stress: Many teenagers become overloaded with daily demands, including school, poor feelings about self, moving, and other difficult situations. When this happens, their minds and bodies are built to respond to the perceived danger activating the fight, flight, or freeze response. This increases heart rate, blood flow and can cause nausea. The exact mechanism that activates the fight, flight, or freeze response can also turn it off. This relaxation response helps you relocate your sense of well-being. Teens that develop this response and other stress management skills have more control when in stressful situations. Yoga can help teach these skills by promoting relaxation and teaching awareness of the body, mind, and breath. In addition, the body areas that carry the most stress are the neck, shoulders, and back, which simple yoga poses and stretches can help loosen up. Incorporating yoga in stressful moments of your life can decrease stress levels, increasing your productivity. For teenagers, this might be before a test, before bed, or while studying. There are yoga classes specially designed for teens, which teach them stress management that can then be used in their day-to-day life.
Cyber addiction: Teenagers spend an average of 45 hours in front of screens per week. With their dependence on screen technology increasing, parents are becoming more concerned that compulsive internet usage creates addiction. This addiction can result in shorter attention spans in the classroom. Yoga is an excellent way for teenagers to disconnect from technology and focus on themselves. Yoga motivates healthier lifestyle changes, relaxing their reliance on the internet and video games. People begin to get better sleep, eat better, perform strong communication, and increase activities that they are involved in outside of their homes. These changes can give teens mental clarity, helping them recognize their unhealthy relationship with video games or social media so that they can take a step back. Moreover, it can ease stresses that form when teenagers are separated from their devices, helping to remove the addiction.
Underage drinking: The most commonly used substance by teenagers in the U.S. is alcohol. Yoga is a great activity to tune into when facing substance abuse or addiction. This is because yoga is relaxing and helps improve the mind-body connection and the awareness that is compromised with substance abuse. Teenagers involved in extracurricular activities are far less likely to drink alcohol as the social involvement provides the purpose and self-esteem that they are looking for when they turn to alcohol. It helps people stay calm, grounded and make better decisions.
Teenagers are going through many mental, physical, and life changes during this time in their lives. Teaching yoga to teens can help them work through these changes with ease. Some of the many benefits of yoga for teenagers include:
Improves physical health: Yoga can increase teenagers’ awareness of their bodies. The sequences of poses improve flexibility and develop balance, strength, coordination, and stamina.
Improves optimism: Teenagers experience heightened emotions due to the hormonal changes they are experiencing. Yoga assists them in building a feeling of hopefulness while looking toward their future and avoiding intrusive thoughts and negative feelings.
Develop discipline and self-regulation: Yoga teaches mindfulness, reducing impulsivity, increasing patience, and improving concentration. In addition, it increases body awareness. This helps teenagers navigate and cope with challenges.
Improves self-esteem and body image: Yoga is a non-competitive sport that allows practitioners to focus on themselves. Peer pressure, bullying, and body image issues cause many teenagers to experience low self-esteem. Yoga teaches gratitude which gives teens the chance to think objectively and accept their bodies.
Improves focus: Yoga helps teenagers regulate their concentration to help them pay attention. Improving student attention span can improve performance in school and other extracurricular activities they wish to excel in.
Teenagers should sign up for a smaller class so the instructor can pay adequate attention to them. They should try to register for a course that reflects their ability. Avoid signing up for a more advanced class. If they are not physically prepared, this can induce stress and anxiety, which is the opposite of what they should be getting out of teen yoga classes. If they have any existing medical conditions, it is recommended that they speak with a doctor before taking a yoga class. Once the doctor gives them the go, make sure to let the instructor know of any existing physical conditions or limitations they may have so that they can provide you with modified poses if necessary before beginning the yoga session.
Allow us to introduce you to some different poses and practices that will help (1) enhance your breathing, (2) balance, and (3) stress-reduction through relaxation:
Alternate nostril breathing: This breathing technique helps teenagers feel more balanced and calm. Make sure you have a few minutes before beginning the exercise. Begin by getting into a comfortable seated position, and place the thumb of your right hand on your right nostril. Take a slow exhale through your left nostril and count to 5, then inhale through your left nostril and count to 5 again. Next, use your right finger to close your left nostril and repeat the same sequence. Continue this pattern (exhale, inhale, switch sides) for several cycles.
Benefits: Practicing breathing exercises regularly has a variety of benefits. These include lowered stress, stronger lung function, improved cardiovascular function, a decreased heart rate, and overall better wellbeing.
Risks and contraindications: Although this is safe for most people, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor first if you have asthma or any other lung or heart condition. If you experience shortness of breath or dizziness, you should stop immediately. If you experience any agitation, you should stop the breathing exercise.
Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana): Begin on your hands and knees, with your knees directly beneath your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Turn your toes under, spread your fingers for stability, take a deep breath, exhale, and lift your knees off the ground. Push back and raise your tailbone toward the sky away from your pelvis. Allow your heels to move toward the floor and press into the floor with your hands. Bring your head between your arms and let your shoulder blades expand away from your ears. Hold this position for 2 to 5 minutes.
Benefits: There are many benefits to this yoga posture. These benefits include stretching out the lower body while strengthening the upper body. It can also stimulate blood flow which improves blood circulation. The downward-facing dog can improve posture negatively affected by backpacks during teenage years while strengthening foot muscles.
Risks and contraindications: Downward-facing dog should not be practiced if you have carpal tunnel syndrome because it causes numbness and weakness in the hand and fingers, where much of your weight should be in this position. Moreover, you should avoid this yoga posture if you suffer from injury to the hips, arms, or shoulders.
Reclining Bound Angle pose (supta baddha konasana): Lay on your back, bend your knees and have your feet as close to your pelvis as possible. Gently open your knees to the side so your feet touch. Depending on your flexibility, you can modify this by putting bolsters under your knees. Put your arms on your belly or out to the side, and hold this for five minutes, taking slow deep breaths. This yoga posture can also be done upright, which is called the bound angle pose (baddha konasana).
Benefits: This pose is a thorough stretch for your hips, inner thighs, groin and knees. It increases blood flow in the pelvis, which can ease pain caused by menstrual cramps. The reclining bound angle pose stimulates the organs, including the kidneys, ovaries, heart, and prostate gland. It is therapeutic for those experiencing flat feet, sciatica, asthma, and blood pressure.
Risks and contraindications: This pose should not be practiced if you are experiencing any groin or knee injuries. You should not force this pose, and if your flexibility is not quite there yet, you should practice a modified version of this pose.
The amount you should practice yoga may vary depending on what results you are looking to get out of it; however, consistency is key. If you wish to obtain the many benefits of yoga, you will want to practice regularly. Although taking a yoga class once a month may help relieve some stress, it will only be temporary. If you hope to increase your stamina and flexibility, you will want to take a yoga class at least three to four times a week. Speaking with a yoga instructor about your goals and desires can help you create a plan that will ensure you practice yoga regularly enough to achieve them. Over time, going to a class becomes unnecessary, and it can become a practice that is wholly integrated into one’s life. Some teenagers even do Yoga Teacher Training programs to deepen their understanding and application of the discipline.
There is no single yoga that is best for teens. It varies greatly depending on what you are looking for your child to get out of it. It will help if you examine your child’s age, physical shape, and experience so you can choose the most appropriate and engaging yoga. Some forms that may be appropriate for a child under the age of twelve include, but are not limited to:
Hatha yoga: Hatha yoga often consists of a series of standing and sitting asanas poses that focus on stretching and breathing. It is believed to be the best yoga for beginners due to its slow pace and can be done by children over four.
Yin yoga: Yin yoga focuses on slow movement that stretches deep connective tissue and increases flexibility. It is simple enough for most children over the age of four to participate in.
Nada yoga: Also known as “the yoga of using sounds,” nada yoga is one of the best ways for young children to begin yoga by focusing on meditation and relaxation. It supports mind and body development and increases confidence and self-esteem. Nada yoga can be started at an early age.
Restorative yoga: Restorative yoga is a slow, meditative form of yoga that utilizes props to support the body while holding poses for extended periods of time. This is the best form of yoga for parents who want their children to access feelings of relaxation and contentment. It is recommended for children with some previous yoga experience, possibly above the age of eight.
Vinyasa yoga: Vinyasa yoga involves matching breathing with a series of movements that flow together to create a quick and fluid routine. It is often done to music with beats matching the sequence, making it high energy and fun to participate in. Vinyasa yoga varies in difficulty and is recommended for older children closer to the age of twelve with previous yoga experience.
Bikram Yoga: These yoga classes are also known as hot yoga. They heat rooms above 100 degrees to increase humidity to 40%. These classes are typically 90 minutes long, and combine two breathing techniques and a series of 26 poses with the purpose of flushing out body toxins and strengthening muscles. There are risks to Bikram yoga, including overheating, and it is not recommended for individuals who have high or low blood pressure levels or any heart condition.
Iyengar Yoga: This form of yoga focuses on the structural alignment of the body parts through asanas. It is unique to other types of yoga in three key ways: precision, sequence, and the use of props. Poses are held for more extended periods, making Iyengar yoga suitable for people looking to build strength and stability.
Teenagers should participate in yoga practice for a variety of reasons. However, the following five reasons are driving more teens to take yoga classes in recent years:
Yoga helps teenagers cope with anxiety by teaching healthy coping mechanisms. Teenagers who practice yoga experience more stable emotions.
Yoga helps teenagers stay focused by teaching them to be in the present moment. This is learned through holding proper yoga postures and meditation. Yoga techniques calm teens when dealing with external stress and high school exams.
Yoga helps teenagers build self-esteem. It is non-competitive, unlike many other sports teenagers are commonly involved in, allowing people to focus on themselves while practicing gratitude and feel a sense of fulfillment.
There are many physical changes taking place during the teenage years, and yoga can assist teens in dealing with them. It does this by connecting the mind and body while shaping and toning muscles.
Yoga helps to refresh and awaken tired teens by relaxing the mind and preventing overstimulation. This allows teens to stay awake and alert by easing the anxiety and the stress that their days often entail.