While each yoga prop provides its own unique boosts to our yoga practice, there is one that stands out for me as the most useful for teaching teenagers. Here’s a hint: Think of the most important yoga pose for teens and then think of what prop would help them access it.
The answer is……
SAVASANA and EYE PILLOWS. Hands down, the pose of relaxation, surrender and awareness is the pose most often cited by teens (that I have taught) as the one they like the best. That Savasana is a favorite teen pose is not surprising given the luxury it affords to rest, to reconnect with the heart, to retreat from everyday pressures, and to recharge from within. What is surprising is that it can be challenging for teens to access these benefits even when they are willing.
When I introduce the use of eye pillows for Savasana, I immediately observe a shift in teen students. They quickly drop in to a deep state of relaxation and the shuffling noises in the classroom cease. (Warning: teach teens HOW to use eyepillows; if they discover them on their own in the beginning of class, your precious yoga props will be tossed about like small, flying bean bags.)
With their eyes covered, they are no longer tempted to look at their neighbors or look to see what the rest of the class is doing. With this barrier to their eyes and partially across their face, the tendency to wonder who might be looking at them is minimized. With light, gentle pressure on their eyes, their sense organs are reminded to release and they can retreat into an inward place. With the sweet smell of herbs like chamomile or lavender, they are taken to a relaxed aromatic state.
I used to make eye pillows myself and this can be a wonderful exercise for a group to engage in. However, I have recently been very satisfied with eye pillows from Barefoot Yoga. They are a prop supply company that I have used for over 15 years. (For this article, they provided me a free eye pillow.) You are welcome to comment on your favorite supplier, too.
If I teach a class of teenagers, eye pillows are what I bring above other yoga props because I know how much it can help them relax. And, a teen who leaves my class calm and assured with a refreshed perspective on life is my ultimate reward as a teacher.