about teaching yoga to teensBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Teaching Yoga can be uplifting, inspiring and challenging. In many ways, this is never truer than when you are teaching a group of teenagers how to focus, concentrate and complete a series of challenging Yoga postures! Teenagers, by their very nature, often vacillate between period of intense focus and periods of lethargy, apathy and oppositional behavior. This is particularly true when a teenager is struggling with any number of difficult issues, which frequently produce defiant and uncooperative behavior patterns.

Some of these issues may include depression, ADHD, eating issues, self-esteem issues, and difficult family dynamics. As you get to know your teenage students, you may even find that some of the teenagers in your Yoga class are being bullied at school, experiencing homelessness, drug addiction or even violent behavior, to name only a few of the many potential difficult situations teenagers face. Although we may fondly remember our own teenage years as mostly idyllic, many of us faced many serious issues such as these, which have lost their intensity over time.

However, the issues facing today’s teenagers are just as serious as the one’s you may have faced in the past, and may even feel more overwhelming to them, because of the increased academic demands on their time and energy, and the ever-increasing pace of our highly technological society that demands that teenagers today be constantly socially connected. This increase in the demand to always be socially available increases the stress level of many of today’s teenagers, which makes it even more difficult for them to stay on track and focus well on one task at a time.

There are many benefits to engaging in a well-rounded and comprehensive practice of Yoga poses, breathing exercises and contemplative techniques, such as writing in a journal. This is especially true when you are teaching Yoga to teenagers. Not only will they benefit physically from a regular practice of Yoga postures, they will also benefit emotionally from practicing soothing breathing techniques and contemplative exercises. For instance, there are a number of non-profit organizations that offer Yoga classes to teenage inmates. In some of these programs, teaching mindful awareness and relaxing breathing techniques has helped a number of the teenagers literally turn their lives around.

Additionally, if you incorporate some time during a Yoga class for them to journal and express their feelings, you will be supporting them in developing understanding and empathy for themselves and for each other. This sense of understanding, compassion and empathy can cut the impetus to bully at its roots. The process of writing out their thoughts or feelings in a journal can be as simple as taking ten minutes or so at the beginning or end of your Yoga class to do some writing, while leaving time at the end of the writing session for students to share their process with the other students in the class.

Do keep in mind that it is important to modify your teaching methods with your own wisdom as a Yoga teacher, so that you can adeptly and fluidly alter the sequence of Yoga postures, breathing exercises and contemplative techniques that you have chosen to teach to your students, on a moment-to-moment basis. For example, if your teenage students come into class frazzled and exhausted from a week of mid-term exams, you may want to begin the Yoga class with some more vigorous standing postures and sequences, and then guide your students through a slower, rejuvenating sequence of seated forward folds, which are very calming and grounding.

By teaching a Yoga class to your teenage students that is a balance between the more active sequences, such as the Sun Salutations, followed by a series of restorative seated forward folds, you will help them to discharge anxious energy and bring their nervous systems back to a state of balance. In addition, by responding to your students’ level of energy and to the group dynamics that are unfolding during class, you will also be offering them the opportunity to integrate their experience on the mat with their experience in the world and with each other. In this way, they will learn how to put the uplifting and sublime teachings of Yoga into practice in their own lives.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: enchantress108@gmail.com.

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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