One in six young Australians is currently experiencing an anxiety condition. One in 16 young Australians is currently experiencing
depression. What can we do to help? In any children or teens yoga class, there will be students who are filled with worry, suffer from panic attacks, have debilitating anxiety, stress and have experienced bouts of depression. If not dealt with now, this could impact them seriously for years to come.
Teaching teens how to eliminate these issues for themselves through yoga will empower them, build their confidence and resiliency. Rather than turning to medication as an answer, the tools, techniques and practices of yoga is a solution.
How many of us would love to have had these yoga tools as a teenager? Imagine if you had been taught one technique to help you deal with pressure, exercises to build your self-esteem, how you could calm your tension, stress and worries and have a safe place to go to whenever you needed it.
These tools are even more important for teens today than they were for previous generations: coping with stress, school or study problems, body image, depression and family conflict all have an impact.
Here are my 4 Top Tools to take into your teen classes that work fast in any stressful situation they are dealing with.
1. Pound it out!
Starting from sitting, ask your teen to make their hands into tight fists and using the flat part below the knuckles, start pounding all the way down their bodies from the top of their heads, across the shoulders, down the outside of the arms and up the inside, into the chest and down the back, down the legs and finishing in the balls of their feet. Tell them to tap as strongly as they like, feeling any tight areas release and feeling stress move out of their bodies.
2. Breathe it out.
Many teens and kids are visual learners, so it helps if they can combine a calming breathing practice with a visual aid. This breathing technique will settle the mind and release worries.
Tell them, “Take a big breath in and as you breathe out imagine all the stress and worry leaving your body. Take another big breath in and as you breathe out, watch all the grey unwanted stress travel down though your arms and out through your fingertips. On the next breath out, watch the grey unwanted feelings travel down your legs and out through your toes.” They keep this going on every breath out, releasing more and more until all the grey has gone.
This is a very relaxing exercise and so it is a good night time one to do, if your child or teen is having trouble falling asleep because of stressful and anxious thoughts.
3. The Worry Tree Visualisation
Lay them on their backs, turn their palms up, let their feet flop out to the sides and ask them to pull their chin in slightly into their chests. Tell them to relax every part of the body and close their eyes. You are going to guide them to a place where they will picture letting go of all their worries.
“Keeping your eyes closed, imagine a big tree in front of you. Notice the branches, the leaves, maybe there is fruit or flowers growing on the tree. This is your worry tree, the place where you can hang all your worries, troubles and whatever is causing you stress.” Ask them to imagine walking up to the tree and placing all their worries and fears on the tree, however big or small it may seem. Ask them to thank the tree and to walk away knowing that everything will be taken care of. Remind them that they can go back to the tree whenever they need to.
4. Build Back Strength
Build back strength in children and teens to impact their emotional strength. Having a strong back leads to feelings of confidence, self-esteem and lifts self-worth.
Do this exercise next:
Straight Leg Hip Lifts
Lie on back. Hands interlaced behind head.
Have legs wide apart and straight with the toes pulled back.
Exhale lift hips, Inhale lower x 10
I hope these tools help you to be the best children’s yoga teacher you can be and to impact all those teens in your life or classes.