This has been a year of New, of putting into practice all the things I have learnt over the last couple of years to teach teenagers. My sequences were all perfectly polished, rehearsed over and over, but not much went according to plans.
Yet it’s been awesome!
- Guide, don’t impose
Grownup yogis come for the work in and the work out, not to share their feelings. First thing I learnt from teaching Teens is that feelings do have a strong say.
Those kids spend long hours at school and are under constant pressure of doing great at school, at sports, of looking great. But how about feeling great?
When they land on their mat after a long day of exams and already stressed with the upcoming weekend sports competition, an invigorating Vinyasa might not be exactly what they need.
So I learnt to adapt to their energy levels. After some grounding breathing and a couple of warming asana, I sometimes offer my mat to a volunteer:
When I feel they need to be grounded, I would ask the “sub” to add calmness to her variation of Surya Namaskar and practice one movement/one breath. That’s how we got the most mindful variations of Warrior 3, tree and crescent moon poses!
Then I would integrate their variations onto a longer flow. When they needed more focus, we would practice with closed eyes, They would give me the ingredients they need, I make their mocktail!
- Praise the differences
In my classes, there are hyperflexible yoginis, very strong ones, the ones with dancer legs, a couple of runners with tight hips and a swimmer with very muscular arms and back.
At the beginning they were all in awe before their super flexible friend ( IG is definitely not serving yoga !). So we had a class on arm balances so the strong yet not so flexible ones could realize how powerful they are.
Its not enough to tell kids they are special, we need to show them how. Nobody will love you less if you cant reach the floor in your forward bend, but I have many props to turn us all into super heroes.
I love how the kids naturally take the blocks pyramid pose or as I overheard yesterday “my long legs would need a block for the moon pose, ”. Not the short arms, the long legs 🙂
- Let them fly !
I always have a bunch of “saving poses” at hand, in case of emergency. When they need to focus, what’s better than acrobatic yoga? It’s breaking the rhythm, get them all together again and it’s the best way to get all their attention.
I am becoming a fan of acroyoga now that I can totally see how It helps in developing an awareness of your body and its position in space that’s difficult to learn from other pursuits. Students need to use proper technique in order to complete the movements without them or their partner falling or breaking form.
- Teaching the art to relax
Last but not least, I have developed a wide catalogue of variations of Savasana. When the kids have been working hard, Savasana has become the ultimate dessert. I would introduce the Yin part of the class with a couple of restorative postures and end with Savasana with a chair/bolster/blocks/wall/sandbag…
Yesterday was the last class of the term, and I loved their reactions when I said “Savasana your style , take all the props you need and show me what a real relaxation set up looks like”. I love hear them commenting “I do this at home now too. I use cushions instead of bolsters and it works just the same”, adjusting their head so their forehead is above their chin, wearing their eyes cushion religiously.
Thanks beautiful yoginis for the great year !
Already looking forward to next term ❤ Namaste
3 thoughts on “4 lessons I learnt from my Teen Yoginis”
Lovely! Seems like it’s been very rewarding as a teacher, teaching teens yoga. I often think about how challenging it can be for a yoga teacher to have beginners and advanced students all in the same class.
It is so rewarding yes! They are so sensitive yet strong at this age, we can work on so many layers 🙂
When I have mix level classes, I just offer more options (variations). Sometimes less is more so when the class is not that challenging advanced students can really focus on their breathing or explore a familiar pose with a new perspective. There are so many ways to explore a downdog. For a stretch of the hamstring, of the back, the shoulders .. they have a chance to pick up what they really need in a slower flow. It’s all about balance 😉
See you soon neighbor 💖