The Bendy Blog

My Time with Teens

By Karen Martin

Bendy Blog category: Teaching Techniques

Teen YogaKids classes are not high on my experience list. Most often I teach a younger (11 and under) crowd. My recent groups this time would be 12 through 15 years old, one all boys and one all girls. This would be a one-time session for each, offered during a weeklong camp. I was excited to explore yoga with them on a different level than what I enjoy with my preschool and elementary aged kids. I’d like to share with you some observations and highlights from my teen classes!

First of all — they love to talk! We opened the class by having each student say their name and something about themselves that they’d want others to know. This helped me gear the class towards their likes and interests. A few of the students were into martial arts, some soccer; a few had more musical interests (piano, guitar). I found that teaching them to count to 10 in Korean while holding poses gave recognition to my karate kids. Practicing various types of warrior poses for leg strength supported my soccer players. Playing music by Derek Trucks (Sahib Teri Bandi/Maki Mandi) during numerous sun salutations with variations testing balancing skills wowed my guitarists!

They enjoy challenges! They liked holding poses for a longer time and trying more advanced poses. We held various plank poses with attention to breathing through an agreed upon time period, either a count or a short song. We explored more advanced poses by going through a beginner, intermediate and advanced form of the asana. Each student was encouraged to stay at the level most comfortable and doable for him/her. Helping a student find which form best suited their ability was empowering. Their success was determined by discovering the pose that worked the best for them and not necessarily by what everyone else was doing.

They like to learn about yogic philosophy! We took a moment to breathe and acknowledge how finding our “edges” in the poses (how far to go or not go) was another way to learn about ourselves. The practice of satya (truth) focuses on choosing our words to do no harm. Choosing how deeply to experience a pose works much the same way. They began to build awareness how this choice can affect their bodies in a positive, non-hurtful way.

They love to relax with restorative yoga! Bolsters and pillows were used to enhance Savasana. These props are often used in adult practice. They liked how it added another dimension to creating an individualized restful state. And it was definitely a transferable activity to their home environment! Just gathering up some pillows and blankets at home to get comfortable and listening to their own mellow music would be a great de-stressor for the coming school year.

And lastly — just like my little students — they love to play! After many planks and dolphins, we tested our arms by having a tug of war. It was a great way to finish a class with lots of noise and teamwork!

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