How yoga can help us talk to teens with understanding and compassion

The only time I ever got a detention at school was in PE. And I loved PE, so how did that happen?! Because I wanted to be like the cool girls, so I pretended I’d forgotten my PE kit! I was so shocked at getting detention by one of my favourite teachers (I’m sure she knew the deal), that I felt really stupid but couldn’t do anything about it. I didn’t really want to miss out but wanted to fit in with a certain crowd. Now that story has nothing to do with yoga, but encouraging girls to do and even enjoy their PE lessons does. As does understanding their behaviour. Reflecting on my own youth helps me to empathise with the young people I teach. In addition to the knowledge I have learnt about adolescent brain development, it helps me to understand why they behave the way they do, and to react from a place of understanding and compassion.

As well as teaching yoga as part of GCSE PE (see the last blogpost), I am also asked to teach yoga to pupils who hate taking part in any physical exercise in an effort to get them to join in. Most of the time it works, but occasionally I get the same excuses: ’I have my period, I can’t do it’, ‘I forgot my PE kit, I can’t do it’, ‘I have a headache, I can’t do it’. But I do get them to do it, because they can all do some of it, and I know that if they really do have a headache or period pain, some sort of yoga will help. And very quickly they also discover this and want to do yoga. Plus, I don’t really care what they wear but next time they bring their PE kit so they’re more comfortable! 

They learn that everyone can always do something in a yoga class and it doesn’t matter what it looks like or who they’re with. After they get over the initial ‘weirdness’ of it all they enjoy the new challenge and seeing the progress that they make, they enjoy the stillness and quiet. They have fun. Above all, the class enjoy the chance to relax and be spoken to with kindness, respect and understanding. Many school teachers are under so much pressure and stress themselves to produce top grades that they not only lose sight of why young people act in certain ways, but are unaware that their own stress is rubbing off on the pupils they want to calm down. 

Would you like to share yoga with adolescents? Would you like how to learn how to teach them effectively with greater empathy and compassion? There is still time to join us on the Teen Yoga training in Cornwall 29-31 January and 6-7 February! Whether you are a yoga teacher, parent, school teacher or social worker – you could be eligible to join our 5 day TeenYoga teacher training course. Please leave a comment below and forward this to someone who would find it interesting!