Do You Love Yoga AND Care About Teens? Announcing Yoga 4 Teens Instructor Video Course

Are you pleased with how yoga has helped you? Do you care about teenagers? If you answered yes to these two questions, then teaching teenagers yoga could be your next act of service.

This is the true joy in life — being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. ~George Bernard Shaw

There’s a lot of truth wrapped in humor in this quote by George Bernard Shaw.  It’s a mighty purpose to teach teenagers yoga— and one I’d like to encourage others who agree to do.  Why not be “a force of nature” and guide some young people in your community?  I’ve prepared this comprehensive Yoga 4 Teens Instructor’s Video Course that will get you motivated and fully prepared for how to tailor yoga to the teen demographic.

We invite you to watch the introductory video below to learn more about making a difference in the lives of teenagers.  If you know someone else who might be interested in this course, we are obliged to your kindness in sharing.  You can also learn more about this soon to be released teen yoga certification online course here.

If you are interested in taking this course for free, post a comment.  We are looking for a few people to provide us with feedback in exchange.

 

Three Meditation Tips

I was recently asked to provide three meditation tips for beginners by a person who is compiling a grand list of tips to help motivate people to meditate.  Great cause, I thought.  And great reason for me to record my thinking at this moment.  Below this lovely picture of tree in bloom,  I present three tips.  Your feedback and responses will be enjoyed, if you’d like to comment on this blog.

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Do some enjoyable light body movements first.

I refrain from calling it exercise or yoga, so as to invite an unstructured sense of getting the energy moving in your body, whatever you need that day.   Breathe while you get some energy flowing—like arm swings, hip rotations, light twisting side to side, or other movements that feel good to you. Moving and breathing first helps you to let go of the normal mind state and shift into feeling a sense of peace.

 

Keep an overall purpose in mind.

Think of it as building the skill of being still. In this fast and busy world, the opportunity to sit in stillness is a way to center on what is precious to us and to let go of what is not.   The word “meditation” conjures up some idea of what it “should” be, for most people. There are lots of approaches for meditation – the definition is broad. Whatever approach you choose, keep an overall purpose in mind: being open to the presence of God (or the Universe, if you prefer), the knowledge that all is well, and the truth of constant change.

 

Give yourself credit for time-in.

It’s so common for us to discount ourselves by claiming our mind won’t cooperate. Or else, we do the opposite; count ourselves as already “there” or “doing it”. Instead, approach each time as a fresh experience, a “practice” if you will. It’s staying committed to the process that matters. Build a good relationship to your meditation practice, free of “should”s and “shouldn’t”s.

 

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What Yoga Poses Can Help Teens with Exam Stress?

It’s that time of year — Spring Break is here.  But before teenagers can enjoy a welcome break, most of them must endure test-taking and exams first.

Studying hard brings many benefits, among them getting smarter!  However, the pressure to do well in limited time with great expectations often creates a great amount of stress for teens.

Christy Brock Miele, found of YogaMinded.com and teen yoga teacher trainer, has some suggestions for how teens can ward off exam stress, keep a clear mind, and be their best, in the most relaxed sense.

These yoga poses are not time-consuming, but can make all the difference to help teens manage pre-exam and studying stress.

Bee Buzzing Breath (Brahmari) – Bee Buzzing breath can be done from any position, but it is ideal to be sitting up straight with a lifted (not collapsed) chest and eyes closed.  Take a deep breath in, and then hum while exhaling.  Relax and observe the after-effects before repeating another time or two.   IMG_2093You can’t do this breath seriously and not feel calmer!  The sound of the bee buzzing breath literally takes your attention and draws it away from the brain down to your voice box and heart area, giving a mental break.  Also, performing long exhales is very calming for the nervous system.

 

 

 

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)IMG_2094This pose can be done in entirety standing or from a seated position, doing just the Eagle arms.  By steadying the gaze on one spot and engaging the arms (and legs) in a “locking position”, the pose of the eagle takes the energy of the brain and redistributes it to the body, easing mental pressure and reinvigorating cardiovascular flow.  You’ll feel steady and clear, like an Eagle surveying the land.  This pose also provides welcome relief of tension that builds up around the neck and upper back with excessive studying.  Click here for more details on how to do Eagle pose.

Cat/Cow spinal movements (in a chair or from table top on the floor)IMG_2092

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When you flow with the breath and engage the body, there is an immediate release of mental tension.  Getting the spine to move will free the buildup of tension in the brain, resulting in feeling refreshed and renewed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seated or Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)–  Sitting to the front of the seat of a chair with feet wide, bend forward and let the head and arms hang.  Blood will flow to the head.  This circulation to the brain is refreshing and rejuvenating.  A good picture is here.  Alternatively, standing forward bend can be done with head supported on the chair, which is excellently shown here. It literally cools the brain to have the head supported. Both approaches incorporate a chair which is typically available before test-taking and invite the restoration of an equanimous mental state.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

IMG_2096If getting on the floor is an option and your studying at home, curling in on oneself as Child’s Pose offers redirects focus inward (as opposed to getting caught up in a mental stress loop) and can dispel faulty notions of stress.   Child’s Pose evokes such a sense of comfort and safety.  The relaxing benefits of Child’s Pose are enhanced in this picture with the use of a bolster and a sandbag on the lower back.  Without these props, Child’s Pose is still a great study break.

 

 

 

Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Savanasana)IMG_2095
This is an inversion that also calls weight bearing activity of the arms and a good stretch of the legs.  Downward dog is a remedy for all kinds of stress anytime! Ways to get into downward facing dog pose are discussed here.

 

 

Best wishes to all the teens out there undergoing intense study periods.  Remember some amount of stress propels you to be your best and grow.  May you studiously prepare for your tests and also benefit from the strong internal knowing that all is well!

Get Access to the 12 Yoga Poses all Teens Should Know.

For a complete resource on all things teens and yoga, refer to Yoga 4 Teens, An Instructor’s Guide to Teaching Yoga to Teenagers.

Get “In” On the Discount Days with YogaMinded

Although admittedly late to the game, YogaMinded has not forgotten Cyber Monday! Our resources for teachers are available over the next three days (until Thursday) for 30% off.  Now is the time to grab some of our materials that will infuse your teaching with new knowledge.

Heck, you could also just get more comfy and cozy in our YogaMinded t-shirt, available in both black and white.

Apply coupon code: CyberDaysDisct.

Season’s greetings!
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Our Yoga 4 Teens Instructor’s Guide Gets A New York Times Mention

In the context of reporting about Jaysea DeVoe, a 13-year-old yoga teacher from Southern California, our Instructor’s Guide gets a mention by The New York Times. The article reports Yoga 4 Teens: An Instructor’s Guide to Teaching Yoga to Teenagers to be a “popular manual”, which is a boost for teen yoga and teen yoga teachers everywhere.

YogaMinded is pleased to see Jaysea making a difference in her community.  Articles that highlight her teaching serve to role model yoga’s benefits for other teenagers.  And we’re all for that!  With the stresses that abound in teens’ lives, more teenagers still NEED yoga more than ever.

If you are a yoga practitioner and care about teens, the Yoga 4 Teens Instructor’s Guide can prepare you to have more engaging and rewarding classes for teenagers.   Its 275 pages of thoughtful content, abundant pictures, and well-organized chapters reflect the many years of experience of its co-authors and above all, their intention to aid others in shaping yoga to be meaningful in a teen setting. And, by the way, teenagers need you!

Yoga 4 Teens: An Instructor’s Guide to Teaching Yoga to Teenagers is now available as an e-book, as well.

Insight on SUP Yoga and Teens

Did you ever avoid something because it WAS trending?  SUP Yoga is hot right now.  If you doubt the challenge or enjoyment of it, I challenge you to give it a try.

I’ve enjoyed Stand Up Paddleboards (“SUP”‘s) since 2007 when my husband and I bought two boards.  What fun to be on the ocean, connecting to nature.  I regularly go out on my 10 ‘ SUP, usually with a friend.  I’ve even learned to surf with it, which makes catching small waves a tremendous thrill.  Here in California, there are some great SUP designated surf spots.

With all there is to enjoy with Stand Up Paddleboarding  (“SUP”) and my personal yoga practice to boot, I hadn’t gotten around to actually trying SUP yoga, until NOW.  So I’m reporting in….. what a great way to mix up your ordinary asana practice, open your mind and body to something different, and enhance the yoga experience with all that water and the outdoors element offers.

OliviaGateBest of all, I was able to share my SUP Yoga experience with another young lady.  Together, we had a good time experimenting with what yoga poses we could and couldn’t do.  I loved having the water underneath me, constantly shifting my balance point.  We even took an unplanned dip or two in the lake, which was a sure way to let go of expectations during practice (and add a good laugh, too).

Earth practice is so dependable;  but with SUP Yoga, the water provides a shifting base, making one refreshingly uncertain.  New ways to balance abound with SUP Yoga. The lovely and peaceful water element offers a profound relaxation experience (at least in certain conditions).  Is there anything more relaxing than the sound of water lapping?

If I am to be honest about my first SUP Yoga experience, I need to come clean with the fact that I felt a little embarrassed.  I’m used to doing my asana practice in private.  There were moments when I was self-conscious and concerned that I was being scrutinized.  That my young friend was open to joining me made me more comfortable.  I imagine that group SUP Yoga classes also would help ease the awkward factor of doing yoga by yourself on the water.

ChristyTadasanaI have a few more thoughts on this experience and how it might relate to teenagers.  As one legged balancing is irresistable for teens to try on the ground, the challenge of balancing on a SUP on even two feet is  enticing.  Believe it or not, Mountain Pose (or Tadasana) pictured below, can be so difficult to balance.  I was really squeezing into the mid-line here in the photo.  Savasana on a SUP is brilliant for posture awareness across the shoulders and upper back.  One can instruct the outer shoulders to touch the board and it’s an instant presto posture improvement.  Prayer hands (or namaskarasana) comes particularly alive on the water, I discovered, too.  My young friend agreed.

My guess is that the sensory stimulation of SUP Yoga would also be great for teenagers.  It’s pretty hard to focus on anything other than balancing and feeling what you feel when you’re doing SUP Yoga!

 

 

 

 

photo 2 Olivia UpDogOliviaCamel

 

 

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ChristySirsanaUpavista ChristySirsana ChristyGate ChristyDownDog ChristyCamel ChristySUP

 

LA Library Needs Teen Yoga Teacher

I was recently contacted by librarian and teen outreach coordinator, Dana Eklund, from the Sylmar branch of the Los Angeles library system.   He is looking for a certified yoga instructor who wouldn’t mind volunteering to teach yoga to teenagers and adults one or two Saturdays a month.

SyLibYouAreHereCropMPHSign-PBktTeenagers along with adults and some kids currently meet on Saturdays and do yoga with videos like Yogaminded’s Yoga 4 Teens DVD.  Dana says, “the teenagers really loved the workout with the Yoga 4 Teens DVD”.  The response for attracting teens has been encouraging, since adding teen specific videos.  Adding a live instructor to lead an hour long class would really complete their program.

Read and respond to this opportunity on yoga activist here.

What a fantastic opportunity!  I’m hoping this blogpost will touch the heart of the right, qualified person.  Either that, or I’m going to make the hefty commute myself!

Such a cool story, Dana writes:

“As a harried Dad working full time with another full time job at home raising a needy daughter, I couldn’t find time for yoga at home so I came up with the idea to get some mats and show videos  to people at the library. For the first two years, I only had one or two people (adults), a TV set  and a yoga for dummies video, but as the economy took a downturn more and more people started to show up and now with a supply of yoga mats and a big TV screen I’m getting usually 10-20 people each time. Still mostly adults but as my job is to do outreach to teens,  I’m really keen on aiming the program specifically at tweens and teens.  Since showing more yoga videos specifically for teens, more teens are coming a few are actually starting to bring their friends. Also Phoenix House, a local drug rehab center for teens, brings a group of their girls once or twice a year to do yoga.”

Here is a map and workout schedule  for the Sylmar library.  Dana will receive all responses from people through the yoga activist job posting so go ahead and make his day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

People are People; An Encounter for Reflection

Today I had an encounter that has me thinking about how we treat people and how it relates to the teen yoga classroom.  It was a classic day for longboarding– sunny and beautiful with waist-high gentle waves and very little wind. (Longboarding is a style of surfing with a board that measures somewhere between eight and eleven feet in length that has more stability than shorter boards and is best for waves that are not too steep.)

The waves were coming in sets and the conditions were calm.  I found myself next to a jolly guy who kept sliding off his board and floating alongside it. It looked like he was having fun and I felt like being friendly.  Because we had wetsuits on and it was a fairly warm day, I asked, “Are you hot?”  With a laugh he said, “I know I’m hot!  And yes, I am a little warm as well. I spent too long on the base being cold so I’d rather be warm.”  I laughed, too, and our surf session continued.

imagesOnce a wave was coming in and he looked like he was having trouble catching it or else he was out too far to catch it.  Looking at me, he shouted, “Go on.  It’s yours!  You can get it.”

He and his friend talked about the military and made small talk. I asked whether he lived on the base and we talked about John Basilone, the famous war hero from WWII who lost his life in battle. His friend caught a wave and smiled the whole ride.

I bid them farewell as I paddled north where the waves were breaking better so I could catch one in to the beach.  As I was paddling by this fellow and he was once again pushing himself off his board for a dip, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before:  this man had no legs.

I looked once again to be sure and paddled off with a different feeling in my gut and a shift in my thinking as I reconsidered this fellow’s perspective.  I thoughtfully considered how I had treated him and was at peace.

At some level, I wonder if it was a relief for my friend in the water to be laying on his stomach like everyone else, with no differences called to attention.  When I teach teenagers I take them at face value for that time and that place.  In teaching at a youth shelter where teens are recovering from attempted suicide, I marvel afterwards that these same adolescents with whom I had just enjoyed the tranquility of a yoga class were also greatly troubled in the recent past.

When we make no assumptions about our students (or anyone else, for that matter), it translates to them being treated respectfully.  Just as famous people tire of being recognized in public, individuals tire of conclusions being drawn about them.  Young adults are particularly sensitive to how they are treated.

Remain curious of new students and friends and we give them dignity to have their own experiences without judgement.  I now say a prayer for my long-boarding friend and hope that I see him again in the water!

 

You Work Out. But, Do You Work In?

“Working out” is a term we commonly use.  “Did you get your ‘work out’ in?”  “Wow, I worked out and feel great.”  Working out is a phrase ascribed to many activities including a boot camp fitness class, a personal training session, a run, calisthenics of any kind.  Usually it involves muscular exertion, aerobic or anaerobic activity, and perspiring.

reversenamasteHowever, what do we call the after-effect of a peaceful immersion from a great yoga class?  The subtle shift in consciousness after hearing a dharma talk or an insightful sermon?  The mental insight that results from a dedicated meditation practice?  In these more introspective activities, it doesn’t seem accurate to say you’ve had a great work out.

I propose a new descriptive phrase:  “Working In”.  By having the counter to “working out”, it is a subtle reminder that our inner work beckons.  Just as our culture now values the benefits of cardiovascular exercise or “working out”, we should place equal value on “working in”.

Plenty of brain research is coming out that is educating us on the power of awareness, emotional intelligence, and mental resilience.  Dr. Dan Siegel explains in his best selling book Brainstorm, the Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain that in order to live a rich and full life on this planet, our relationships should be in order, both with ourselves and others.  That doesn’t happen without doing our inner work.

It takes work and dedication be kind, compassionate, forgiving and loving.    By “working in” (with meditation, prayer, yoga, etc.) we have the ability to be a better version of ourselves. We can more strongly resonate our truth.  We can experience inner peace.  We encounter Grace.

The next time your asked whether you have worked out, and your day involved meditation, yoga, or a massage,  you can reply that you have “worked in”.  Better yet, ask yourself if you have plans for your “work ins” this week.

 

Interested in helping teenagers understand the value of yoga and ‘working in’? Register for the next Yoga 4 Teens training with Christy Sept 5-7.

 

 

 

Interested in Teaching Teens Yoga?

Many teachers “fly without radar”, so to speak, when it comes to teaching yoga to teenagers.  This is no surprise as specialized trainings for this group are not widespread.  It was the case for me when I started teaching yoga to teenagers 13 years ago.  I’ve come a long way since those early days of bewilderment teaching yoga to teens.

Since meeting my co-author, Jennifer Lightsey, in 2002 and lots of experience teaching teenagers later, I’ve come to learn the importance of classroom skills and the value of modifying typical yoga teaching for this group.  It’s a lot more fun and rewarding with some teaching skills and specialized knowledge.

  1. If you would like to improve your engagement with teens in the yoga classroom, or
  2. If you are starting a teen yoga class and would like some help preparing, or
  3. If you would like to connect your passion for yoga with teenagers in your life, or,
  4. If you’re simply curious …….

Consider coming to a YogaMinded Yoga for Teens training.  

Discover the joy and skills in connecting with teenagers.

Next training is in southern California September 5-7. Learn more about what a training entails and register here.

YogaMinded.com

YogaMinded.com