I’m a believer in knowing the big picture. If someone asks me to do something, I do a lot better when I understand WHY I am doing it.
When my daughter struggles with her homework, I explain that her frustration is a sign that she is building her brain “muscle” and strengthening her ability to learn. (For more, see Mindset by Carol Dwek.) Because she understands the benefit of the struggle and how the process unfolds, she can continue her work without letting frustration get the best of her.
I think we are all like this, performing at a higher level when we have a certain education.
That is why I talk to teenagers all the time as I’m teaching. Like my daughter and her homework challenges, yoga can seem strange and even difficult for the unfamiliar. Why we do yoga, who does yoga, and the benefits of yoga are discussion topics that provide a chance, not only to educate teens, but also to encourage them to be open to the experience.
Here are some discussion topics that I regularly start with teens, whether they are already doing yoga with me or considering it. Come to think of it, these are useful conversation topics for adults, too.
First, the short list:
- Yoga is relevant for everybody.
- Learn how to care for yourself.
- Yoga helps you recharge and become clear-minded.
- Yoga helps you cope.
- Yoga is a workout, too!
- You can get better at the poses.
- You’re so lucky to be doing yoga now.
- We’re so lucky to be doing yoga now.
- The point of yoga is to remain curious .
- Seek things to do that will empower you.
Now, the list with a little explanation:
- Yoga is relevant for everybody because every “body” has a body and every body can breathe.
- Yoga is a system of self-care. It’s incredibly useful to learn how to care for yourself. Yoga helps all the systems of your body function properly (circulatory, muscular skeletal, endocrine, digestive, nervous, reproductive.)
- I’ve asked a lot of teens how they feel after doing yoga and I overwhelmingly hear “very calm”. Yoga helps you recharge and become clear-minded. The experience of relaxation that comes with a good physical yoga practice can be very profound.
- Yoga helps you cope with things like anxiety, depression, ADHD, anger, jealousy. I always feel grateful after I practice yoga.
- Concerned about getting exercise and losing weight? Yoga is a workout, too! It really is. It helps regulate metabolism and increase self-awareness so that you’re less likely to eat too much, and you’ll feel better about yourself, in general.
- Just like you can get better at a sport, you can get better at the poses. As long as you are operating from a place of knowledge and respect for how your body works, expect improvement for yourself as you get stronger, your coordination improves, and your muscles lengthen.
- Your so lucky to be doing yoga now. SOOO many people say to me that they wish they had known about yoga earlier in life. And, if they had had yoga as a teenager, it would have changed their life for the better. I’m one of those people.
- We are so lucky to be doing yoga now. It’s really a gift to have the time and place to practice yoga. It’s a sacred time to acknowledge the blessings of our life, including our body and breath.
- The point of yoga is to remain curious about what you can do. If you ever feel bad about yourself in any kind of way while you are doing yoga, you are NOT doing yoga. Yoga helps you improve your mental outlook so if you’re feeling jealous, self-defeated, or envious, yoga gives you the chance to forget those methods of thinking and instead to observe and engage in your own experience.
- Seek things to do that will empower your strength of mind, body and character like yoga and not things that will disempower you (like drugs, drinking, wrong relationships).
From the viewpoint of a teenager, what would you add to these discussion points?
This short clip shows a teen class taught by Christy where she incorporates some of these points.
The Instructor’s Guide for Teaching Yoga to Teenagers is also available for helping prepare you to teach teens.