Written by Sarah Loker
The process of transitioning from a child to an adult during the teenage years can be a challenging time. With pressures to fit in, succeed, and be confident, it can be overwhelming and isolating for young people as they navigate the changes and stresses of life.
Yoga is a wonderful practice that young adults can use to help manage this intense and sometimes tumultuous time. Keep reading to discover some of the physical, mental and emotional benefits of practicing yoga as an adolescent…
Improves physical health & fitness
Yoga helps teens develop overall physical fitness, through practicing yoga poses that gently stretch, tone and strengthen the entire body. Yoga encourages a greater connection to the physical body, also known as body awareness. Yoga poses help to improve coordination, balance, strength, flexibility and posture. There is a lot of pressure on teenagers to look a certain way. Yoga helps teenagers improve their physical fitness without focusing on their appearance.
Reduces stress and supports mental health
Teenagers are often under a lot of stress due to societal, educational and familial pressures. Yoga is a wonderful tool to help manage this stress - through breath, gentle movement, and body awareness, yoga provides space to step back and regulates the nervous system, calming the body and mind. Studies have found that teenagers who practiced yoga experienced an increase in positive mood, and a decrease in anxiety and depression.
Increases focus and concentration
It can be hard to focus during teenage years - the change in hormones, peer-pressure, social media and the overstimulation of the modern world, all play a role in making it hard to concentrate. Yoga can help young adults to centre their focus, improve their attention span, and be able to concentrate better throughout the day.
Improves sleep and energy levels
Many teens struggle with sleep issues and fatigue, and it’s no surprise considering the changes occurring physically, mentally and emotionally during this time. Poor sleep quality has a number of negative effects, which can be detrimental to many aspects of life. Yoga regulates the nervous system into a relaxed state, helping to calm the body and mind, promoting a deeper, better quality of sleep.
Increases confidence and positivity
Teenagers can experience a lack of confidence due to the challenges arising from puberty and peer pressure. This leaves a lot of teens struggling with positive self image. Yoga is a wonderful practice because it encourages us to accept ourselves as we are in each moment, without the need to improve or change. Yoga can provide teenagers a space to explore self love practices, to build confidence and a positive self image around their identities and bodies. Studies have also shown that yoga can help build a positive mood and a sense of optimism. During a time when adolescents are looking toward their future, yoga can help to cultivate a sense of hope for all that is to come.
Our next wellness workshop, Teen Yoga with Heemali, will explore the power of yoga, meditation and mindfulness as tools to support teenagers and young adults in this transitional stage of life. Teen Yoga with Heemali is an inclusive, non-competitive space, helping young people to develop a loving, healthy and respectful relationship with their body, developing attention and presence, all whilst improving strength and flexibility. This 1 hour workshop has been designed as a taster session for young adults to try yoga for the first time, so no prior yoga experience is necessary. Taking place on Friday 15th September, 6:15-7:15pm at The Studio, Bartlow, this workshop is a wonderful way to destress and reconnect after starting back at school or college. Tickets are £10 and can be purchased by going here - https://www.thestudiobartlow.co.uk/service-page/teen-yoga-with-heemali?referral=service_list_widget
Yoga, Physical Education & Self-Esteem, K. Bridges & M. Madlem (Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 2007, Vol 5, Issue 2)
Teen Yoga for Yoga Therapists: A guide to development, mental health and working with common teen issues by Charlotta Martinus