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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.   

You 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)

 

This 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)

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)

If 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)


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.