Scientific and experiential evidence proves many of yoga’s well established benefits. From physical to mental to spiritual, devoted yogis everywhere race to their mats to reap the rewards.
And now, recent research from the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics shows that even high-school students can cash in on the same benefits that older yogis do.
At the end of their ten week study, researchers found that high school students who participated in the yoga offering during PE class scored better on psychological tests screening for anxiety, depression, and mood imbalances than the teens that did not. The teens who participated in yoga reported fewer negative emotions than those who didn’t participate in yoga during the ten week study. How amazing is that?
This inspired us to pull together the top five benefits of yoga practice for teens below. So whether you’re a teen yourself, a parent of a teenager, or just a yogi looking for even more reasons to hit the mat, check it out!
The physical benefits of yoga for teens are quite similar to the benefits of yoga for adults. In the end, yoga means union in Sanskrit, so it makes sense that many of the benefits would be the same!
Yoga builds strength, increases flexibility, lengthens the muscles, increases coordination and balance, builds core stability, and can help students’ posture rebound from a day hunched over a desk (or a smartphone!).
As a teenager, there are heaps of distractions around — from what you’re going to wear to the football game on Friday night, to the who-likes-who dramas — there are much more interesting things to think about than the correct placement of an accent in Spanish class.
Yoga can help teens mentally refocus on the task at hand. By practicing living in the moment on the mat, teenagers can more fully concentrate on the present moment off the mat.
By practicing present moment living on the mat, high school students 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.
In addition to connecting you with your emotions, yoga encourages self-love and self-acceptance. This benefit is especially powerful for teens struggling with body image. It’s a beautiful way to learn to love yourself and appreciate the body for what it is and what it can do, rather than what it looks like. It builds compassion for the self which then radiates to compassion for others.
Yoga’s mental benefits are fairly well documented, and as evidenced by the study mentioned above, teenagers who practice yoga show more positive moods, less anxiety and depression, and greatly enjoy asana practice.
With the stress and anxiety of exams, placement tests, speeches and all of the other pressures that plague high school kids today, yoga can be a step in the right direction.
Yoga breeds connection. As mentioned previously, it means union in Sanskrit. By understanding that each and every single person is one, perhaps teens will learn to accept one another more fully, no matter their clique, social interests or popularity ranking.
Yoga is non-judgemental, and the more we practice, the more acceptance and less judgement we’ll have in our daily lives. Yoga will help teenagers become more compassionate for one another.
So while this list is in no way comprehensive, it's a bit of fuel to get your teen's yoga fire burning!
When the pace of life is fast, our minds move fast, too. When we are also attracted to a strong, fast-moving yoga practice, we can easily overstimulate ourselves — and our nervous system takes the beating. We may end up feeling easily overwhelmed, tired, with a racing mind. We get sick quicker and more often.
Restorative yoga balances a fast lifestyle and has an enormous capacity to heal physical and mental symptoms that are stress related
Practising Restorative yoga is a great help to anyone who is chronically ill, acutely ill, or recovering from some injuries.
The beauty of Restorative yoga is that there is no muscular contraction involved. We believe we have to “work” to increase flexibility, but often we achieve more opening in parts of the body that we perceive as tight by softening and relaxing than through an active asana practice. During a Restorative yoga sequence, you still stretch, but you relax fully in the stretch so that tension can slowly be released.
Because the body and mind relax, literally becoming softer, we also create space to get in touch again with our natural qualities of compassion and understanding of others and self.
Remember that feeling of being truly relaxed, the body all soft, warm, supple, and glowing? Feeling so comfortable in your own skin that you hardly notice your physical body?
Remember that feeling of your mind being laid back, sort of watching everything from a distance with a big smile on your face, knowing beyond a doubt that everything is okay, exactly as it is? In this state, you know that life is just as it is, that there is nothing to accept or reject.
Do you remember what it is like to rest in your true nature? Realize you are not separate from life, any more than the air in a balloon is different than the air surrounding it, or the wave separate from the sea.
The true meaning of Yoga is to experience union. To see through the illusion of being a separate being. To see that we are all pervaded with and made out of the same energy, which is the ground of all being.
I hope that I have motivated you to take the time out to practise Restorative yoga. Especially if you are the type that feels you rather do something active, because you don’t have enough time. You will benefit most ...