Encouraging teens to “teach” your class can be a lot of fun! Handing over portions of the class to these willing yogis can build confidence and expand their knowledge of a yoga practice. Permitting greater control to these older students creates more give and take in the learning process. And selectively portioning out lesson segments allows you to manage the process without losing focus and direction. Engaging teens in this way can lead to some surprising results!
Leading a familiar vinyasa flow (sun salutations) can be a good start. Each teen can have a chance to add a special modification to the series while leading the class (from the teacher’s mat of course!) through the asanas. Or the teens can be challenged to create an original vinyasa flow. This can be a singular, pairing up, or small group activity. Poses can be assigned or chosen and then sequenced by the teens. The result is taught to the rest of the class.
Another activity involves an introduction to the YogaKids Elements for older teens. Use simple words to guide the students as to what the Element is and ideas on how to use it with their pose. Give them time to work on their own. Whenever possible let them collaborate on ideas. For example, have the students create a repeating pattern (Math Medley) using Tree pose by varying their arm and leg positions. Another idea would be to have the teens decide on poses that would be used to tell a story (RCAWY). Have them share a story about a day they walked through snowy woods and what they saw, heard, and felt. Enhance the story by using all of the senses (even the sixth sense)!
Another favorite student-led activity in my classes is Quiet Quests/Savasana. Talking the class through progressive muscle relaxation (tensing and then relaxing areas of the body) allows the teen leader to gain a sense of timing, allowing for these responses without rushing through the sequence. There is also the opportunity to observe tension and relaxation in fellow classmates. And who doesn’t like ringing the chimes to “awaken” everyone at the end?
Another component of final relaxation can be a guided visualization. A teen leader tells a story during the silent reflective time. This is great practice using a voice that helps the listeners “paint a picture” in their minds. At closing circle, ask your group what music they would like to hear next time they meet. Write down the requests that would be acceptable for your lesson. When meeting again, ask the teens to determine where and how the music would be incorporated into the lesson plan.
These suggestions can help yoga to resonate with your teens. Allowing them ownership in the process can be very empowering!