Why Your Teenager Needs Yoga

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.

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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.

  • Breath   

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.

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  • 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.

  • Emotional

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. 

Sign up for Teen Yoga (ages 11-15)

Tuesday, June 5th, 9:45am-10:45am

Commit To YOU!

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With Summer coming to an end and Fall close at hand, it’s a time of change for most of us.  New routines and schedules replace those of the past couple of months and are often very hectic. With family, work and school obligations, it can feel like our lives our beyond our control, at the mercy of teachers, coaches, bosses, co-workers and more.  It’s very easy to allow our own health and wellness to fall through the cracks.  We all WANT to be healthier, eat better, exercise more and have more energy, but it can seem like an insurmountable task to take action toward these lifestyle changes.

Our yoga practice helps us be good with who we are, right here, right now, full of flaws and imperfections.  However, it also allows us to unearth the unhealthy patterns and places where we feel “stuck” in our lives, our bodies and our minds, so that we can strive to be the best version of ourselves.  This means we need to make our health a top priority.

As we move into this next season, I’d like to offer some suggestions as to how you can break some old habits and make healthy choices for you and your family.

  1. Schedule Your Exercise: Many of us take time on Sundays to review the upcoming week’s schedule.  Use this opportunity to carve out times for fitness…a walk, a class at the studio or gym, a few minutes in your basement….whatever.  Just put it on the calendar or sign up on Mind Body and honor the commitment as if it were any other one in your life. Having a fitness partner is a motivator for some….text him or her on Sunday and coordinate a few times.
  2. Eliminate Soda From Your Diet: As a former 1-can-of-Coke-a-day girl, I know this can be hard, but it’s necessary.  You say, “But I need caffeine to wake me up or help me through the mid-afternoon slump”… then choose unsweetened tea or coffee or even some dark chocolate.  And do not keep soda in your house for your kids.  I realize there are other opportunities for them to have it, but keeping it out of your fridge is a huge step.
  3. Move. Move. Move.  Take the stairs. Park in the back of the parking lot.  Stand at your desk (standing workstations are great, but even just placing your keyboard on a yoga block works too).  When your child’s team is warming up for their game, or you are waiting for them to finish practice, throw on your gym shoes and go for a walk (keep a pair in your car so they are always with you).
  4. Meditate.  I know, I know; it’s hard; too many thoughts to distract you.  Try it anyway.  The point of meditation is not to eliminate your thoughts, rather to not get attached to them.  Allow them to exit your mind just as easily as they entered.  When all else fails, simply focus on your breath and return to it every time you notice you’ve become distracted.
  5. PUT. THE. PHONE. DOWN.  Rather than focusing on what other people are doing in their spare time, fill yours will things that enrich your quality of life.  It’s up to you to figure out what that is, but I’m guessing you have a few ideas!  Remember too that your kids are watching your example: so if they see you unplugging from technology, they are more likely to do the same.

Of course, we all slip up, make mistakes and revert back into former patterns.  That’s normal!  When this happens to you, it doesn’t mean you are a failure; it just means you need to hit the pause button for a moment and re-commit to you.   Know too that I am here to lend an ear or support you in your journey.  Feel free to reach out to me. 

Happy Fall!

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Kim Grispo

Understands the “beautifully imperfect” lifestyles of her students.  She encourages self-exploration and self-compassion, she provides students opportunities for challenges on and off the mat. She would love to support you as you make positive changes in your life.

Why Yoga in Nature?

To me, there's something really special about taking my practice outside whether it's here in Illinois, on the beach, in the Colorado mountain's, or in a rice field in Bali.   It's being one with nature.  Feeling something beneath my feet that's not a studio floor supporting me.   I particularly love when the grass is dewy and wet under my mat.  I don't really care for little granules of sand anywhere on my mat.  Those tiny pieces become part of my yoga practice. I have to not let them bother me.    The sounds and smells are my favorite part.   Nature has the best sound track of all time!  

There's something freeing about being outside.  I feel like no one is watching me and the opportunities to find drishti are outstanding.  There are definitely some challenges that are different for everyone.  For me balance becomes more of an issue.  I have a friend that just can't stand bugs so she won't even give it a thought.

Try yoga out in nature this summer.  If you can't make our weekly yoga in the park just grab your mat and go anywhere.  Your backyard is just as good as anyplace!  Outside is where your life on your mat and your life off your mat come together and isn't that what yoga is?

Kickin' It With Kim Grispo

If you've been around Twist for any amount of time you've probably seen Kim Grispo either on her mat or teaching.  She walked into the doors on March 9, 2013 and has made this her yoga home ever since.  Kim has been so inspired by her practice and how it's impacted her life that she took our first teacher training program in September 2014 with Debbie Williamson and Theresa Wilson.

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The Fam

Keith, Kim, Hannah, & Hailey

You can take a class from Kim bright and early on Wednesday mornings at 5:45am.  We promise its worth the early wake up call!

Find out more very important things about Kim below.  You'll be so glad you did!  

What is a song that you live by?  Just a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down (hmm. make sure you ask her about that)

What is something that you do daily?  Walk the dog

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were? 34

When is the last time you tried something new? Went cave exploring in Mexico last March


Fun Sponge!          (from her adorable kids)

Hannah's Story and Why We Support Warriors For Wishes

This week Kim Grispo shared how fitness helped her through one of the most difficult times in her life.  It was five years ago that they received the devastating news that their daughter Hannah had cancer.  The video below documents her journey and celebrates her recovery.

Today Hannah is an amazing and active young girl who is healthy and happy.   Hannah is just one reason why we support Warriors For Wishes.  Please take a few moments out of your day and watch Hannah's Journey. 

You'll Hear It When Your Ready

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One thing I know for sure is that a person will hear something you say when they are far enough along on their journey to receive it.  Sometimes they hear the same thing you've said a million times when it's coming from someone else. 

In our family, the later statement is true of our children.  The fall of 2015 was pretty stressful for us.  Our oldest daughter was a senior and in the throws of her college search and all that entails.  We shared all the wisdom we had and it fell on deaf ears.  Then one day she came home so excited because her counselor had this great idea!  It was something that we had already suggested to her on multiple occasions.  

But she heard it.  It doesn't matter in the end who she heard it from.  She was at a point in the process that she was ready to receive it and she heard it from someone who wasn't nagging her constantly. But she heard it.

The same thing happens on our mats all of the time.  Most people come into the studio to get healthy and fit.  Along the way something magical happens once we're ready.  We learn that yoga is much more than just the movement of our bodies and breath.

Our yoga practice is a process of incorporating the eight limbs of yoga, of which the asana (physical practice) is just one.  And most would argue that it's  not even the most important one!  Like life, it's a journey where we see and hear things when we're at the point in the process that we are ready to receive them.  

Rolf Gates was here last Thursday evening and he shared many inspiring thoughts.  Some were new to us and some we talk about here often during our classes.  One of those is the concept of 'the middle' which can be referred to in many different ways.  I usually say,"Find ease, not easy.  The place that you can stay if you had to for the entire class."  I've also heard it many other different ways.

As a student on my mat it took me a long time to grasp this concept.  I thought I wasn't a 'good yogi' until I could do arm balances or a handstand.  That I had to power through every pose because that's what strong people do.  Boy was I wrong.  

Thankfully I took a class one day and the teacher talked about finding ease.  This was several years into my practice.  I was at a place where I was ready to hear it. I received it.  It changed my practice and my life.  Then I noticed she talked about ease all the time and NOT just on the day I HEARD it.  Funny how that works!

Your journey is yours.  Don't rush it!  The process works and you will discover things when it's your time to.  Enjoy every moment of it and who you become along the way.


Get Upside Down!

Join Andrea Jomant and Amy Furlong for 90-minutes of hands-down fun!

During this workshop, you will learn drills, tips, tricks and tools to sticking headstands and handstands.  If you've never been upside down before or you are working to perfect alignment and stability in your inversions, this workshop will leave you more confident and empowered!  We will focus on core engagement, alignment and form, and of course have plenty of playtime to practice!

We know inversions can be a scary thing to try, but we've been there before, too, and can assure you that by learning proper techniques from the start, you will feel at ease and confident to practice these on your own!  After all, who wouldn't want to see the world from a different perspective once and a while?!    ;-)

See you soon!

Andrea + Amy


What Is Yoga And How Does a Mala Fit In To All Of This?

Do you know what the word yoga actually translates to?  I start all the kids classes I teach breaking down that sanskrit word that we throw around so loosely.  Yoga means "union" and in vinyasa yoga means the union or linking of body, breath, mind and spirit.   People often think yoga is your body on your mat doing poses to turn your body into a pretzel and to challenge your flexibility.  The practice of yoga is actually so much more than your classes in the studio doing chatarungas.  It is when you feel most connected to your true self.  It is when you feel alive and powerful and authentic.  It is when you are completely present. It's when you find yourself as one with the people and universe around you.  

Yoga can actually be walking your dog.  It can be cooking a gourmet meal.  For some it's playing a game with a child or painting a house.  "Yoga" is meditation and "yoga" is breathing. Yoga can be making and using a mala necklace.

On Sunday at twist, we are having a workshop to make your own japa mala necklace (or bracelet if you choose!).  These traditional pieces of jewelry contain 108 beads and can be used to help still the mind.  How can a necklace do that?   Malas are often used along with a mantra to bring peace within.  During our workshop, we'll talk about what a mala actually is, why they contain the beads they do, and you'll get to design your own piece to take home with you.

I have to tell you, the past two days I have spent countless hours "getting ready" for this workshop (ie making mala after mala 😊).  I missed both classes last night because the time got away from me.  Marv had to remind me to go to the hospital today to work because the hours had passed so quickly.  Yoga is when time is flying and you are completely immersed in what you are doing.  The art of making a mala itself is actually quite meditative and then using it once it's done is even more powerful.  I hope you'll join me for our workshop at 2:30.  If your yoga is feeling pretty and you're into fashion, this is the workshop for you.  If your yoga is being creative and you like to create art, this workshop is for you.  If your yoga is trying to increase your meditation devotion, this workshop is for you.  And if you have no idea what a mala is and wonder why you should come to the studio when you won't  be doing one single chatarunga, this workshop is for you!  It's for everyone (just as yoga is!!).

Can't wait to see you! Mandy

P.S.  There are plenty of spots still left--I have several beads from our trip to Bali and have been ordering beautiful beads every day for the last two weeks.  Boxes keeps showing up at my house!!  So. many. options. Please come so I don't have to create a bead room in my new house.

P.P.S.  Marv even got into my mala time a little and I snuck this picture of him to prove it!  Maybe bring your boyfriend, husband, son along too?!

Welcome to Our Blog!

We are so excited to have this space to share thoughts, ideas, and information with you!  This blog will be a combined effort of the entire teaching staff and YOU!  If you have something you'd like to share please send it to Theresa and we'll make sure it gets posted.

In the meantime, we are working on some great pieces just for you!  Something new will be posted very soon.