Amy Kelly is the CEO of Parent eSource, the global resource, community, and social media trending firm she founded in 2010 to transform the communication between parents and their children. Parent eSource has achieved stunning results by helping countless parents better understand the changing world their teens live in and providing innovative resources to help parents connect with their connected teens Amy has established her revolutionary perspective, resources and technology and is a sought after expert in sharing her insight and parental connection advice.
Nearly 15 million people in the United States practice yoga as a way to deal with the stresses of today’s busy lifestyles. Corporate marketing executives, graphic designers and computer engineers turn to the mat to relieve stress, increase mental awareness and improve their overall health. But adults aren’t the only ones striking a pose. Dozens of programs have popped up in recent years which are designed to bring yoga and meditation to elementary, middle and high school students to help them deal with the stresses that they experience.
Yoga for Youngest to Youth
Some programs begin with toddlers and pre-schoolers, teaching them deep “balloon” breathing and using animals as models for stretching and posing. Elementary school programs emphasize the benefits to both students and teachers who take as little as ten minutes out of the day to focus on basic meditation and yoga techniques, promising increased mental alertness and less classroom disruptions.
Beth Navon of The Lineage Project works with at-risk and incarcerated New York City teens on a mission to share yoga and meditation in efforts to empower youth to find alternatives to stress, violence and crime. One of the participants in the program, James, reports feeling calm and relaxed and senses his anger melting away. Shawna’s home is chaotic, she says, and the techniques she has learned help her to deal with the stresses there. Other participants say that they are better in touch with feelings, emotions, and better able to control them.
What are the benefits of yoga for teens?
Researchers have shown that yoga and meditation reap multiple physiological, psychological and biochemical benefits to yoga practitioners including reduced pulse rate, increased energy, less anxiety and reduced pain. Mood is generally improved and feelings of self-acceptance increase. There is continuing research to suggest that yoga and meditation can even improve academic performance. Students of yoga have better memory, concentration and attention. Ka’ron Fletcher, 11, said he found yoga challenging when he began classes last fall, but now finds himself using the deep-breathing techniques when he’s struggling to concentrate during science class. “It’s easy,” he said of yoga. “I just close my eyes and think about the sunrise. I can block all that other stuff out.”
Meditation creates new patterns of thinking, reducing negative thoughts and tendencies and helping the mind to become more stable. Meditation helps participants to improve articulation, feel greater peace of mind and increased mental strength and coping abilities.
Can Yoga Effect the Obesity Epidemic?
Nearly 13 million children and adolescents in the United States are obese, a number which has doubled since the early 1970s and tripled since 1980. So, can yoga help youth get control of their weight? While yoga is not a calorie-burning power aerobic exercise, it is exercise and many practitioners believe yoga can take off extra pounds. Yoga can give a challenging workout and increase flexibility, strength and endurance and increase metabolic function. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle led a study which showed that those practicing yoga who were overweight to start with lost about five pounds during the same time period that those not practicing yoga gained 14 pounds. Additionally, yoga helps teens to be body-aware and helps them change the relationship of mind and body, causing kids to reevaluate their eating and exercise choices.
Everybody’s Doing It
Jennifer Aniston does it. Halle Berry and Liv Tyler does it. So does Madonna, super models and professional athletes. Everybody’s doing it—yoga, it seems. Along with the numerous physical and emotional benefits of participating in yoga and meditation, there is an important social aspect to be considered. Adolescents feel a need to be included and participate in group activities with friends and where they can make new friends. Attending yoga classes provides a clean and safe environment where teens can work out together; enjoy socializing in a positive, healthy way.
Have you participated in yoga or meditation? Have your children? Have you seen any benefits resulting from their participation? Do you think it could benefit your youth? Leave your thoughts and comments in the box below.
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