Yoga is one of the most recently embraced practices in western culture, shedding light on all kinds of people. However, one very important demographic has been left out of the loop; high school students. Busy with school, sports, clubs, friends and family commitments; there is no time to notice the real need for grounding, focus, relaxing and relieving stress.
The physical changes of adolescence through puberty are influenced by hormonal fluctuations involving muscle growth and development.
Throughout adolescence the body is still growing; bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are changing and stress injuries are common. A quick or energetic body movement can injure these developing structures. Athletes especially are prone to these injuries. By offering a complete body workout, yoga balances out the stresses of any sport and helps correct tightness, weakness and improves balance.
The changes in these growing years are filled with labile emotions. Yoga helps to:
Improve Focus – Yoga helps with developing focus, concentration and improves memory. Prana (breath) instills an inner sense of calm, allowing teens to make clear and precise decisions.
Instill Confidence – Yoga teaches students that through practice they can attain anything they desire. Shaping the body through yoga poses (Asanas), fueling it with the breath and feeling proud of this accomplishment, instills a positive self-image and self-respect. It helps students to be accepting, comfortable, confident and proud within their own skin.
Control Stress – Any high school student will agree that with an increasing academic curriculum, including the weight of college entrance testing, social pressures and uncertainties about their future, that having any assistance to leverage these through the unique shape of a few well-executed yoga poses, with special attention to the breath, would be very helpful. These techniques become an outlet for stress relief, and will be a lifelong attribute.
Promote Peer Group involvement- Teenagers are tribal and want to hang out with their peers, listen to their own music and be in their own space. Enjoying being present in your body, moving to a common rhythm and laughing with friends, while trying non-competitive poses, is like a form of play they can relate to. This practice satisfies their craving for an outlet of self-expression; to be individuals among a common group.
Practice patience- The concepts yoga teaches will help students become more balanced, peaceful, and compassionate young adults. They learn to slow down, taking time to feel, move and breath with a form of consciousness that is nurtured through their practice. Learning how to patiently listen to your body speak provides a lifetime of personal connection.
Staying healthy means a lot more to students today than avoiding a cold. Concerns about eating well, getting more exercise and managing stress are essential. Contemporary teenagers are goal and achievement oriented, operating under relentless academic pressure and a treacherous adolescent social jungle. Yoga just might me “the perfect match” in helping them deal and enjoy their high school years and beyond!
Lisa has been teaching fitness for 25 years, has been a yoga instructor for 12 years and is the mother of 3 high school boys.