The pressures of the teenage years are incredibly intense. It seems so much harder these days to be in that in-between place not still a child, not yet an adult than it was when I was a teenager. With pressure from parents and teachers to excel, and pressure from friends and society to be cool, its no wonder todays teens are stressed out.
The number of teenagers with psychological conditions and the symptoms of nervous system burnout are on the rise. When hormones are raging like that, even the smallest pressure, social or educational, can cause intense physiological reactions that will take a major toll in later years. Many teenagers suffer from constant anxiety, and some are turning to toxic pharmaceuticals just to be able to maintain concentration.
This is Where Yoga Can Help
Yoga has proven very helpful for teenagers. The deep breathing, focusing, and stretching of Yoga help calm the mind and soothe the body and spirit. Restorative Yoga especially helps to balance the nervous system, and ease teens out of the flight-or-fight response. And luckily Yoga is now considered cool by most teenagers, so your kids can practice without worrying about being ostracized.
Yoga also helps to balance the endocrine system, which means it will help teens ride through the crazy-making hormonal tides with more grace. Regular Yoga practice can re-align poor posture, especially in teens still-developing bodies. Yoga can provide teens with coping mechanisms, making potentially stressful social and academic situations less overwhelming.
Yoga also inspires a sense of acceptance. So even if they fail a test or have an acne breakout, a Yoga practicing teen is more likely to be okay with whatever happens. Even just the consistent deep breathing helps to lay a foundation of calm, acceptance, and presence.
Best Yoga Poses for Teens
~ Savasana: Believe it or not, simply lying still and breathing deeply can do wonders for a teens nervous system.
~ Backbends: Help to balance all the sitting and hunching that many teens tend to do. Backbends stimulate and balance the thymus and thyroid glands, which support the immune system and regulate hormones. Backbends promote confidence, self-worth, and the ability to speak ones truth in any situation. They also inspire deep breath, and a connection to ones heart.
~ Childs Pose: This basic pose is great for inspiring relaxation, surrender, trust, and deep breathing.
~ Forward Bends: Inspire deep relaxation and trust. Pacify the nervous system, and increase flexibility.
~ Legs Up the Wall: Allows deep relaxation, and inspires the ability to cultivate new perspectives. Invites the sense of letting go and being okay with whatever happens.
~ Other Restorative Poses: Soothe the sympathetic nervous system, the flight, fight, or freeze response that causes fear, anxiety, and stress. Activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the relax and regenerate response that allows healing, digestion, and integration. They also help quiet the mind and inspire clear thinking.
~ Meditation: Meditation, alone or in conjunction with physical Yoga poses, develops focus, concentration, and equanimity.
Yoga has many health benefits for people of all ages. For our anxious teenagers, a Yoga practice can be a steady boat to help them sail the raging waters of adolescence with greater grace and ease.