*Editor’s note: This article is written from a teen’s perspective, with thanks to her teacher for inspiration, whose article can be found here.
Insecure, worried, feeling down? These things may seem little to adults but to be a teen going through this, it can be a huge deal.
Yoga is the cure to these things.
Imagine that all you can think about during the day is why your friend said that about you, when you’ll find time to get your homework done, and why your thighs are so big.
Yoga completely changed my world in a wonderful way! Some teachers of mine have preached about the wonders of teen yoga, but I love spreading the love with other teens about how much it has impacted my life.
I have an incurable malformation. I suffered from flare ups when I was stressed. And because yoga is a place to release stress, my “incurable” condition was cured—I became pain free because of all the benefits of yoga.
Yoga helps build confidence.
Body awareness is one of the most important things in life, especially when learning to love yourself as a teen. Around 1/3 to 1/2 of teens have engaged in some type of self injury and harm. But with yoga, these rates would drop. In yoga, we practice self-love. Self-love means loving yourself despite what we look like. This means being confident about how our bodies are now and not letting anyone else tell us any different. No matter how tall we are, or how much we weigh, yoga teaches us how to love ourselves unconditionally. Freckles and frizzy don’t matter—you are you.
We are surrounded by people who want the same happiness as we do. Instead of pulling each other down, we build each other up. One teacher of mine has us say three compliments to ourselves at the end of every class. In my opinion, this is the most challenging part of her class. To this day, I have only one compliment I can say to myself confidently, but that one compliment means a lot. I am a work in progress, and one day I will make it to three compliments. We love ourselves despite all else, and we go absolutely nowhere beating ourselves up.
Yoga helps with anxiety.
The earlier you start yoga, the better! Believe it or not, you can prevent anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. I have severe anxiety, and from the first moment I stepped on my mat, it has been the most magical seven months of my life. Anxiety has had a whole different meaning to me. Before I started my yoga practice I would have used anxiety as an excuse for everything. “I failed that test because of my anxiety,” and “I will never be like anyone else because of my anxiety.”
But now, I will tell you: “My anxiety does not define who I am, I am stronger than anxiety and it has nothing on me.” Through yoga, I have learned little techniques to do when I get nervous and lose my zen. Whether it is closing my eyes and taking a deep breath or a moment to think over my thoughts, it is all thanks to yoga. Without it, I would be in a full blown panic attack!
Yoga increases vitality.
Teens are spending an unhealthy amount of time on electronics…about 9 hours a day. I can personally admit that I did spend this much time on my phone—and then I realized how special it is to see people in person and really connect…and not using the phone to connect!
Yoga can offer time to focus on ourselves and what is really important in our lives. I have learned that life is too short to not be running around in the mud and focusing on the people who are with us in the present moment. Yoga has taught me to completely lose control in the best way possible. I would have never taken chances because I was too scared of getting my clothes dirty or hair messy. Yoga made me learn that life is too short to not take opportunities and focus on the now!
As teens get older and move into adulthood, yoga will teach them how to cope in high stress situations, have a mindful routine and life, and focus on the importance of life, and the now. So, instead of making excuses for stress, anxiety, and raging hormones, the answer is clear: yoga.
A final note:
The compliment that I mentioned I tell myself is: “I am a warrior!”
A warrior of anxiety, of ADD, of learning disabilities, of chronic back pain, and of having divorced parents. A warrior does not have to be perfect, but a warrior does not give up and works her a** off to get what she wants. She prays, she meditates and she practices yoga five days a week, for without it, she would not realize that she is a warrior. She does not get caught up in the drama of life because she knows she will get off track. No matter what life throws her way, she has her yoga practice, and that makes her who she is today. While everyone cries over makeup, she smiles through her natural beauty. She counts her blessings because she is not promised tomorrow. Life begins on her mat and ends on her mat. That warrior is me and no one can tell me any different.
Maybe the facts are not convincing, but I believe everyone wants to be a kicka** warrior teen. Now, if that doesn’t inspire you to have a warrior-like life, you need yoga more than you think.
Author: Melanie McGill
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Courtesy of Author