Teaching to Teens

So yesterday, I taught yoga to about 35-40 teenage girls, ages 11-16. They are part of the “Tailoring Teens for Success” program sponsored by Girl Talk, which is a really great program that helps teens with self-esteem, empowerment and values. A wonderful program!

Yesterday’s theme was about dating relationships, and I have to admit that I was a bit scared about having to teach this topic. First of all, how would I tie dating and yoga together? Second of all, I am certainly NO expert on dating…I’ve made so many mistakes in the relationships I have had, been divorced…pretty much everything a person could do wrong, I’ve done.

After checking out some Yoga for Teens books, I finally figured out how I wanted to tie the two topics together. I wanted to work with them on moving from Triangle to Balancing Half Moon and back to Triangle…it can be quite challenging, because your alignment goes in multiple directions with both these poses, and your balance is challenged as well. Many people topple when trying to do this sequence, and that’s exactly what I wanted to happen. I wanted to illustrate that when you fall in a yoga pose, you usually pick yourself up and try again, right? Same thing in a relationship…if you fail in a relationship, you should pick yourself up and try again with someone else. It does no good to dwell on what went wrong…you learn from it and move on, taking the lessons you learned and applying them to the next relationship you have.

We then worked on some backbends. We worked on Camel, Bridge and Wheel. I wanted to use these backbends to illustrate how being open to new things (i.e., opening your heart) can help you figure out who YOU really are as a person. After all, you can’t exactly have a good relationship with ANYONE if you don’t truly know yourself. Plus, backbends are wonderful at boosting your mood when you’re down, so I wanted to let the girls know that they can go into any kind of backbend when they’re sad or upset, and they may notice they feel better after.

Then we worked on an arm balance (Crow) to illustrate that our strength can help us find balance in most any situation.

Though it was hard at times to maintain order and control in the room (it’s kind of hard when you’re one person trying to work with that many kids at one time), I think they really enjoyed the class. I even had music all about relationships…they loved it, and were shaking their hips to the groove as we did our warm-up moves and Sun Salutations.

Most importantly, I tried to make sure I shared with them the things about relationships that I wish I had known when I was their age. Like knowing that no matter what, you are perfect the way you are, flaws and all…so don’t change yourself for anyone but yourself!

I definitely hope I get more opportunities to work with this age group. Yoga can be such a wonderful tool to help with improving your confidence and self-esteem, and the non-competitiveness tends to inspire people cheering each other on as they try something new, whether they succeed or not. That’s what it’s all about!

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