by Amy Brinkman
Yoga helps at a time when mental health problems are common.
Between the busy schedules and social pressures they face, one in five teens will be affected by a mental health disorder before reaching adulthood, the most common being anxiety, depression and ADHD. Shockingly, 60 percent of children with diagnosable depression are not treated. Kids with anxiety disorders are treated even less, with 80 percent not receiving treatment.
Various studies cite measured benefits of meditation to help regulate mood and anxiety disorders, manage ADHD, reduce stress, and improve focus, amongst many others.
Meditation is shown to be a non-medicinal alternative to treat mood and attention disorders, for teens and adults.
Yoga encourages a non-competitive atmosphere.
On their report cards, on the fields, and in social environments, teens face judgment and competition everywhere. Rarely do they have an outlet to be purely recognized for their efforts, without measurement. Additionally, this current generation has developed a fear of failure, and thus, wants to win every game, get the highest grade possible, and be the most popular kid in the school.
Yoga helps teens deal with anxiety, stress This isn't only helpful on the mat, but can actually help teens cope with stress, fear, and anxiety. It allows them to practice self-awareness and teaches them to develop control of their emotions.
When we teach teens to pay attention to their breath, we’re teaching them to bring their focus inward and, in turn, practice mindfulness.
- Builds Balance
Yoga is a great tool for not only developing physical balance but also for developing emotional and spiritual balance. As they get older, young teens are faced with more responsibility and balance is a key factor in everything - from work to their social life, diet and other lifestyle factors.
- Instills Compassion
Teens can be hard on themselves and each other, thus teaching them the value of compassion and kindness is very important. Yoga first teaches self-compassion and awareness, which in turn radiates outward to others.
- Builds Self-Esteem and Teaches a Healthy Body Image
Media, and peer pressure can all play into creating a negative sense of body image in young women. Yoga works to combat that by providing a healthy environment for girls. By building internal confidence, children are less likely to be influenced by negative outside factors. It is not a competitive sport. Instead, teens measure progress against their own goals, not the capabilities of others.
- Encourages Fun
How often are your teenagers SMILING? Not enough? One of the most important aspects of doing yoga is that it’s really fun and builds friendships. Learning to try new poses can be a safe way to take risks and laugh together.
- Teaches Relaxation
Young teens have an insane amount of energy and are constantly moving. It’s important to take the time to relax and learn the techniques to calm their bodies and minds. Yoga helps teach teens how to relax even while moving their bodies through poses using their breath.
By practicing present moment living on the mat, teens will have a better sense of their emotions. Yoga will enable them to connect with their deeper layers and understand more fully what they are feeling. By developing a better understanding of their emotions, teens can then more appropriately process them. Emotional intelligence is a very powerful thing to learn at an early age.
- Increases Flexibility
“During adolescence, there are growth spurts. The bones tend to grow fast, and the muscles stay a little tighter. This makes it difficult to maintain flexibility in adolescence. Tight muscles can lead to tension headaches and various body aches and pains. Increasing flexibility helps prevent sports-related injuries.
- Promotes Better Posture
A lot of the alignment principles of yoga, like drawing your navel to your spine and lifting from the crown of your head, make you engage in proper posture
Many teens become “hunched over” from carrying heavy backpacks and spending massive amounts of time on computers (not just for social networking, but also for homework) Slumped shoulders and poor posture project a poor body image.
- Yoga Gives Tools for Life
The bottom line? Teenage girls have a lot on their minds, and that’s stressful. Yoga gives them two things they desperately need: physical fitness and emotional nourishment.
These tools will set up them up for life. Teens are just trying to figure out who they are and where they belong in this world. In a confusing time, yoga will give them strategies for dealing with the ups and downs of their lives that will last a lifetime.