Being active in Mindfulness through Yoga
“It makes you feel happy and therefore you are…it helps you have an inner kind of peace so you feel good about yourself.”
This quotation comes from a 13 year-old secondary school student who accesses TeenYoga once a week. Yoga grounds you in the moment and allows you to cultivate a deeper connection with your body. It also takes you on a journey, like Mindfulness, that develops self-awareness and self-realisation.
All-parliamentary groups have been set up in Mindfulness (2015) and Yoga (2018). The remit of the groups are to improve the health and well-being of the nation. Programmes and research are currently being carried out in many public funded organisations such as Schools, Hospitals, Prisons as well as the Armed Forces.
What does TeenYoga offer?
An opportunity to step out of the busyness of the day and into your own body.
We inhabit our body, or we like to think we do. Sometimes were are so caught up in thoughts, on auto-pilot, rushing from one task to the next, our body seems to be just a useful selection of bones and muscles that helps us do things. Yoga brings us back into the body, makes us curious about how it works. Over time we begin to better inhabit our body, listening to it and bringing kindness and acceptance to it all, even the bits that we don’t like!
It is as much about the mind as the body.
In 2019, I gained my qualification to be a TeenYoga instructor. One of the notable aspects of the course was the psychology of the teen brain. This focused on the upheaval of going through puberty from neuroscientific, psychological, physiological and sociological perspectives. Yoga takes a holistic viewpoint, it understands that all of these systems are intertwined and feed of each other. Teenagers experience Yoga as very different from Sport or PE as a result. It is not so much about winning or losing, but finding out about yourself.
What does a TeenYoga class look like?
Up to an hour long session with all mats provided, in a classroom or other quiet uninterrupted space. We start with a warm welcome, meeting students ‘where they are’; sensing the mood in the room is crucial to providing a routine that meets the needs of the group. Time is set aside towards the end of the session is a welcome space for informal discussion allowing connection and authentication of shared experience.
Schools, youth settings, clubs and 1 to 1
TeenYoga can be used in a variety of settings and is a great way for participants to bond. Participants explore more about themselves and are more compassionate to others having similar or different experiences. For some, 1 to 1 sessions are sometimes the most practical and appropriate way to access TeenYoga.
Charlotta Martinus, founder of Teen Yoga, introduces a broad range of Teenagers who have benefitted from practising Yoga.
We hear from them first-hand what their Yoga practise means to them and how it has impacted their lives.
Thank you to Charlotta and TeenYoga for sharing this clip with Youtube so we can all access it.
Meeting a person or group ‘where they are’ is a key phrase for me – let me explain.
Life as a teen can be a volatile mix of friends, family, school or work and the added dimension of what social media may throw up. It is not always predictable, and can often have unpleasant intrusions.
Accordingly, when meeting a person or group for a Yoga session, I want to see where people are. Perhaps they are energetic, a bit hyper. Or perhaps they are a bit flat, distracted, the mind elsewhere?
The first session is tailored to suit the needs of most, with extras for some and modifications for others. Sometimes, this means meeting energy with energy – a high paced Asana (movement) based session. Sometimes, a calmer, closer held session if people are feeling let down or vulnerable. Taking time to honour emotions present and provide support through more grounding practices.
Yoga is not a ‘workout’ where we strive after goals or count calories. Yoga connects the mind and body. It respects the state that each turn up in and leaves them in a better place. There is much to think about, and I would welcome the chance to answer any questions you have about this approach.