Yoga For Teenager's
Updated: Aug 23, 2019
We all are aware of the changes that teenagers going through. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
Firstly we’ve been there done that. Secondly social media and the news are full with information, after all, times have changed. What do teenagers need nowadays? How can they find themselves? How can they grow and reach their full potential in a world where communication mostly happens via social media and a constant competition about who owns what, who has the best makeup, hair, clothing or sporting equipment. A time where most things are accessible just with the touch of one finger. No one needs to wait anymore and everything is happening faster and faster..
Physical changes being the more obvious ones. The body’s extreme change in both males and females, along with the pressure that teenagers are putting themselves under. May it be through the expectations society has, the portrayal of people in the media, peers and therefore oneself. “Are my boobs big enough, or too big? Am I too fat, or too skinny? Does penis size matter, is my body sporty enough? Why do I have so many pimples… “ and on and on it goes.
Being a mother of teenagers myself, I am often trying to work out what can I do to support their very difficult journey.
Having emotional explosions between the kids and I, mostly because they can be so self centred, one of my argument’s was, “can you even imagine how much I am having on my mind, the whole day long”, “A little bit of support, help wouldn’t be too much to ask, don’t you think?’, or “At least try to put yourself in my shoes”…
Afterwards, we all are showered in emotions of guilt, regret or frustration. and I will go and talk to my friends that are going through the same stuff. And we will exchange articles that have been written by other “suffering parents”, full of wisdom, offering solutions. It is good to know we are all in the same boat.
Seeking advice about “how to deal with my teenage child”, I came across one such article that was a real eyeopener for me.
The part that got my attention was exactly that sentence, “can you even imagine how much I am having on my mind whole day long”. “Try to put yourself in my shoes”
And what would my daughter say,:
“Do you have any idea how busy I am, how much I have to think about…???"
Right back at me.
So I wondered and spoke with my children, how would a teenager describe their busy days, busy minds.
And here it goes somewhere along those lines.
“Guess what, I have to think about many things myself, whole day long.”
Starting by, Waking up after far too short of a night, checking social media, reading a nasty comment, remembering the fight I had with my friend, boyfriend, first look into the mirror, oh god my hair looks so bad, have to wash it, running out of time, oh there is a pimple, have to put makeup on, quickly jumping into the shower, what am I wearing today, realising, I haven’t done all the homework, how am I getting to do the homework, needing to sneak past my parents, because I need to avoid their boring investigations about teeth brushing, room cleaning, homework, getting ready etc., Catching the bus in time, seeing the kids in the bus that hate me, “I hate them”, having to act cool, dealing with their stupid comments, rushing too get the train, walking into school, passing all the older students, remembering my pimple, trying to meet my friends, seeing my boyfriend talking to another girl, ignoring me, checking social media again, oh apparently we broke up, notching everyone is staring at me, getting into class, remembering still haven’t done my home work, teacher is straight onto me, wanting to talk to my parents, how am I telling them about that, there will be no hanging out with my friends…
And this is only midmorning….
I think you are getting the idea… So, yes our kids are having a lot on their mind as well. And yes they are having different priorities to me/us.
And now taking into account the development of the brain, The main change is that unused connections in the thinking and processing part of your child’s brain (called the grey matter) are ‘pruned’ away. At the same time, other connections are strengthened. This is the brain’s way of becoming more efficient, based on the ‘use it or lose it’ principle.
This pruning process begins in the back of the brain. The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is remodelled last. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of theThe front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is remodelled last. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain, responsible for your child’s ability to plan and think about the consequences of actions, solve problems and control impulses. Changes in this part continue into early adulthood.
Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers might rely on a part of the brain called the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behaviour.
The fact that teenagers are not even capable of making appropriate decisions at the right moment, dealing with the inner chatter of the mind, the emotions that seem to come out of nowhere, completely overwhelming the teens, without any warning.
It’s though and yet, it’s all normal and we all survived it already. We know it’s part of growing up. When I was a teenager, I had no idea about any of that or about yoga. I had no idea about finding strength through yoga poses, calmness through mediation and control trough the breath.
I didn’t know I had all those tools within me.
As a yoga teacher focusing mostly on yoga in everyday life, I know how useful a regular practice can be. Practicing mediation regularly, remembering the breath and learning to practice slow yoga poses, rather than the dynamic Gym workout. You might find, that all sounds so boring and indeed, I myself struggle with a daily practice. But what I can say, is that when I am practising, I am feeling generally much better.
My physical body feels stronger and toned and when I am doing balancing poses, I feel that my whole week becomes more balanced. When I am challenging myself in a yoga pose, I might have to practice for some time, but it’s the progression that is intriguing, the challenge, the hard work, and finally I am able to “perfect” that pose. It’s that great feeling of achievement, it is satisfying. It makes me happy and a bit proud. Proving to myself, “see I can do it”. And once I am having this experience on the mat, I can always bring this to mind when life is challenging, off the mat. “I can do that” It might take a while, I might fail a few times, but wait for that great feeling, after having gone through the challenge”.
And while I am focussing so much on that particular pose, I am not even realising that my mind didn’t wonder off. My mind had no time to think about the last stupid comments on social media, about the fact that my boyfriend might be breaking up with me, the pimple, the greasy hair… Non of that matters. And that itself brings rest and relief to my busy mind.
The present Moment, what does that even mean
Practicing yoga, holds me in the present moment. Think about it, being present, I do not worry about the future, I do not regret my past… I am just here, now. What fantastic stress free moment
Learning to meditate
Learning to mediate, will help to clear the mind.
Having a shower before bed, or early morning allows us to wash the day/night away. Cleaning the body is very important, it makes us feel fresh and ready, and no longer smelly. ;o)
Mediation is like having a shower for the mind. Refreshing it, setting it back to neutral and giving it a change to clear out old stuff, stuff that holds us back, or puts us down, or overwhelms us. Imagine to be able to control anxiety, or understand what makes us anxious in the first place? Are things really as bad as they might seam? With mediation we can look at a certain issue from the outside in. Bringing it back into perspective.
The best thing is, mediation is free and can be practiced almost everywhere, at almost any time.
What does breathing have to do with it?
“Take a deep breath”,
how often have we heard this fraise? May it be after hurting ourselves, having a tantrum, becoming angry, feeling anxious, trying to make a decision, resetting our emotions… the deep breath often recommended by our grandparents, or parents… it makes sense. We didn’t think about it, we just took that deep breath, it made us feel better.
Now imagine, you can actually use that tool and many other breathing techniques and use it in certain situations throughout the day. Think of the senior, having to take an exam, reading the first question and all that comes to mind is panic, “I never heard of this, I have no idea what this is about”. Or let's imagine the other way around, “Oh my god I know it all, I have so much to say about this, where to start, what is the priority”… Or visualise yourself in a spoken exam. The knowledge is there, but “the teacher certainly looks at me is a strange way, what is happening, do I really have the right idea in my mind???“
In moments like this, if we could just remember to take a deep breath, or more so, take a breath deep into the navel area, consciously, spreading the breath into the chest and maybe even all the way, lifting the clavicular. We will experiencing calmness, there will be that moment of “re-centring”, and from here we come back to our inner steadiness, trusting ourself and our knowledge.
A calming breath can be as important as a cooling breath, a stimulating breath and or a balancing breath. All this can be learned through the practice of yoga.
Time to relax, why is it so important?
And let’s not forget the other very important part of a complete yoga practice, relaxation.
Maybe even the most important past.
Looking back on all the impacts on our teenagers everyday life, when is there stillness? When can they relax, recharging the batteries? For quite a large number of teenagers, getting to sleep, or finding rest, is the hardest part.
One important change that occurs at night time is increased levels of the 'darkness hormone' melatonin, which helps us to fall asleep. Most adults start to produce melatonin at about 10pm. When teenagers were studied in a sleep laboratory, researchers discovered that they only began to produce the hormone at 1am.
This delay in melatonin production might be caused by the behaviour of teenagers. When they stay up late, they often play computer games orbiting on social media/ smart phones, watching movies. This stimulates the brain and exposes the teenagers to bright lights/ blue light which could cause the later release of melatonin.
On the other hand, the hormonal turmoil of puberty could be pushing the melatonin release back, in which case teenagers are being kept awake by their bodies - they simply can't help their peculiar sleeping behaviour. It takes about 8 hours for melatonin to wear off in the body, so keeping all this in mind, it is no wonder that the teenager, might be extremely tired and or grumpy in the morning. Yet the day will go ahead full stream and there is usually no stopping. So when is there time to rest?
Whether late nights are caused by biology or behaviour makes no difference - many teenagers are sleep deprived. Lack of sleep can lead to moodiness, impulsivity and depression.
Having just 10 min off rest during the day, or even better practicing yoga nidra after a yoga class, or just at home, will give the teenagers time to catch up on sleep that they didn’t get during the night.
I have been explaining in quite some detail about the many challenges that our teenagers are facing, but equally about the many benefits that yoga offers to our teenagers.
After all, we want them to grow into healthy, happy, strong and confident young adults. We want them to know that whatever life is throwing at them, there will be a solution.
Yoga teaches us, and this is not just for our teens, to cope, to look at different options, to accept where we are, to be come strong within ourself, to be kind, to be happy… I could go on and on and on…
But it is not up to me to convince you, as with most things in life, it is up to you to come and experience for yourself, if yoga is for you.
I will provide a safe, professional, open mined, non judgemental space here at my home studio.
I would love to meet you.
Aum and prem