By Cindy Brewer for the SNAP
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 —
When I was a 16, I found an article in a magazine about yoga, meditation and repeating mantras. Since I was fascinated, I closed my bedroom door so no one in my family would think I was crazy and gave it a try. I knew right away that this was something I needed to do, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. I just knew that it felt good to be alone and quiet and focused on what was inside of me instead of all the messages I was inundated with in my teenage world.
It took many more years for me to develop a consistent yoga and meditation practice, but I have often thought that I could have saved myself a lot of stress and anguish if I had stuck with it back then.
Yoga is an excellent practice for teens for many reasons. As the body is going through so many changes, the poses can help to balance out hormones and keep the spine open for a healthy nervous system. Yoga can promote clearer skin and less acne with detoxifying twists and relief from stress. Teens who are athletic find that Yoga can help prevent injuries with the newfound proportions of their bodies. For teens that do not play sports, Yoga allows them to continue to strengthen and stretch their bodies since they are no longer getting the play time of their childhood years. The breathing and relaxation techniques of Yoga can also help students to manage their anxiety and focus during test taking and preparation for work and college. As a teenager is trying to find that balance between fitting in and establishing their individuality, yoga emphasizes honoring our differences without competition.
Being comfortable and confident about your body can improve your life at any age, and the younger we learn that, the better we will treat our bodies so that we will be healthier throughout our lives. A Yoga mat is a safe place that you can return to by yourself or in a group class when you need to let things go and feel that you are allowed a kind of reset button.
In my experience with teaching teenagers, they are surprised at how good it feels to mindfully move their bodies and to consciously relax. It is my hope that this generation of young people will take control of their mental and physical health in as many natural ways as possible to bring more peace to our world.