“Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.” B.K.S. Iyengar
When Miranda was a teenager, she used to be a mental wreck during examinations. As she didn’t want her teen daughter to undergo similar stress, Miranda began finding ways to help her out. This was when she came to know how yoga can be a stress-buster.
Teenage yoga is an excellent way to help your child deal with the overwhelming emotional and physical changes that she goes through during adolescence. Teenagers who practice yoga are less stressed and perform better than their counterparts in academics (1).
MomJunction tells you how to introduce yoga for teenagers, the benefits of starting it early in their life, and the asanas that best suit them.
Yoga For Teenage Beginners
If your teenager is looking for a way to stay fit and healthy, yoga is a great choice. It can help your teenager develop a healthy body and mind in a disciplined manner. Teenagers can find yoga practice a little daunting in the beginning, as they fear that they aren’t flexible enough to do yoga. They could be apprehensive about how they might look when they pose in different asanas (poses).
Most of these fears are due to misconceptions about the practice. So let’s bust some of these myths to help your teenager understand yoga better and give it a fair chance.
- Yoga is for everyone – children, teenagers, and adults can practice for holistic health benefits.
- You don’t need a flexible body to start practicing yoga. Yoga makes your body flexible.
- Yoga has nothing to do with any religion. All you need is an attitude to learn something new.
- Yoga is about understanding and accepting your body, and not just learning different postures.
- Yoga can be practiced for life. The more you practice, the better your mind-body connection is going to be.
Yoga is a structured approach to cleansing your mind and body. While it is recommended that yoga is learned under the guidance of a teacher, beginners can start practicing basic postures by themselves.
Benefits Of Yoga For Teenagers
It has been proven time and again that yoga helps reduce stress (2), rejuvenate their senses through relaxation, and enable smooth transition into adulthood. Following are the physical and the psychological benefits of yoga for teens.
- Stress Management – Yoga is a great stress buster. Yoga practice involves learning about breathing techniques that can help regulate the energy in the body and regulate stress.
- Weight Management –Stress can lead to overeating, which in turn leads to weight gain. Teenagers can also gain weight due to hormonal changes. The practice of yoga can prevent weight gain in both these cases.
- Builds Strength – Yoga may seem like a passive activity, but it is not. Yoga engages you physically, and in a safe manner when practiced right. What many people do not know is that there are many yoga poses that can help you build bone and muscle strength.
- Improves Body Image – Teenagers often have a poor body image and are ever trying to change their appearance to fit in. Yoga promotes self-awareness and acceptance, which helps teenagers overcome their poor self-image.
- Improves Breathing – Yoga is a blend of breathing exercises and postures that foster physical and emotional well-being. Yoga teaches children to focus on breath to promote mindfulness and breathe right (stomach breathing) for relaxation.
- Improved Mood And Cognitive Functioning – Regular yoga practice improves the mood and changes how stress, anxiety, and fatigue are perceived (3). Yoga also helps improve cognitive functioning, especially the individual’s memory, and performance. A 20-minute yoga session every day can improve an adolescent’s performance in tests, in terms of accuracy and speed (4).
- Promotes Better Posture – A lot of the yoga asanas or postures enable you to improve your posture. Teenagers and children who carry heavy backpacks often have a ‘hunched over’ posture when they sit or stand. Yoga poses help you maintain an upright posture, which strengthens the spine.
- Improves Concentration – The breathing exercises in yoga improve concentration. Yoga teaches kids how to use their breath to stay focused on the task at hand.
These are just some of the many physical and emotional benefits that kids can get by practicing yoga, As they grow into healthy adults, teenagers who practice yoga will also be able to enjoy the spiritual benefits that yoga offers.
13 Yoga Poses For Teenagers
If your teenager is keen on learning yoga, here is a list of basic yoga poses he or she can start with. Some of these poses are performed in a sequence for routines like the sun salutation or the moon salutation.
These are a few simple teen yoga poses which they can learn quickly.
1. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings and calves, strengthening the knees and thighs. The pose also stretches your spine and works on the abdominal muscles. This pose can also relieve stress and anxiety before an exam.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart (hip-width).
- Hinge forward from the hips and bend slowly. When you pull your head down and push the hips up, you can feel your spine and hamstrings stretch.
- Bend your knees enough to be able to place your palms flat on the ground.
- Stay in the position for three to four breath cycles. Inhale and exhale slowly, using the belly.
- Release the position slowly – keeping the back straight, bend your knees slightly, and slowly pull pack into a standing position as you exhale.
Avoid locking the knees or rolling your shoulders and back as you get into this pose.
[ Read: Best Workout Plans For Teenage Girls ]
2. Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha śvānāsana )
The downward facing dog pose relieves stress, stretches the hamstrings and calves, strengthens hands and legs, and energizes the body.
- Set yourself for the pose with your hands and knees on the floor. Your knees should be perpendicular to your hips, while your hands should be under the shoulders.
- Spread your palms and slowly move your hands a little forward, while pressing the fingers on the mat for grip.
- Turn or curl your toes under and slowly push the hips up, to make an inverted V with your body. Your knees should not be touching the ground now.
- Make sure your feet are hip-width apart and the knees are slightly bent.
- Stay in the position for three breath cycles.
- To release, bend the knees slowly and move back into the initial position, with your hands under the shoulder and the knees under the hip.
3. Cobra (Bhujangasana)
The Cobra pose stretches the muscles of the shoulder, abdomen, and chest. It also strengthens the shoulders and the hands, and increases flexibility, while allowing you to breathe in more air. The pose also helps improve the mood.
Do not confuse this with the upward facing dog pose.
- Take a deep breath and relax.
- Lie belly-down on the floor, with your legs straight. The top of your feet should be touching the floor.
- Pull your chest up a little, with your hands under the shoulders.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed. Do not push them up till the ears.
- Slowly lift your chest further, while straightening your elbows a little. This pose replicates the cobra with a raised hood.
- Your hip and thighs should be touching the ground firmly at all times.
- Hold the position for ten to 14 seconds.
- To release, bend your elbows slowly and ease down to the floor.
These are the poses you can get into while standing.
4. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This is a great asana to straighten your spine and stretch it, especially if you sit hunched all day long at school. The Mountain pose releases stress and tensions in the body.
- Stand in a relaxed pose – with your shoulders down and to your sides.
- Keep your feet together.
- Lift your hands slowly and join your hands in salutation (Namaste) or like you are praying.
- Now slowly stretch your hands above you, and bend backward to face the sky.
- Stay in the position for ten seconds.
- Slowly lean back to position and bring your hands down to repeat.
5. Warrior (Virabhadrasana)
The warrior pose gives you a buzz of energy and lets you release stress with simple moves. It also strengthens your muscles. There are three different variations of the warrior pose. This is a simple one for beginners.
- Stand straight with your spine erect and your shoulders relaxed and to your side.
- Move your feet apart to the sides, with your legs stretched beyond the hips.
- Stretch your arms to the sides and stand firmly. Your arms should be parallel to the ground.
- Bend your right knee slowly, as you breathe out.
- Turn your head to the right and slowly turn your right foot by 90 degrees to the right. Your knee and the right leg should form a right angle.
- Turn your left foot by 15 degrees.
- Stretch the arms further and stay in the position for four to five breaths.
- Breathe in using your belly.
- To release, slowly pull your legs back and put your hands down. You should be back to standing straight with an erect spine.
[ Read: Pilates For Teens ]
6. Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
The triangle pose stretches your thigh muscles, hips, and groin. Along with relieving stress, the Trikonasana also provides relief from back pain and constipation while strengthening the back, hips, and thighs.
- Stand straight with your arms at your sides.
- Breathe fully, with your belly and relax as you settle into the stance.
- Move your legs apart, stretching them to the sides, by three to four feet.
- Turn your right leg by 90 degrees, so that it points to the right. Ensure that your right kneecap and the ankle are aligned.
- Slightly move your left leg inside, such that the toes are at a 45-degree angle.
- With your feet firm on the ground, stretch your arms to the sides.
- Breathe in as you slowly bend your body to the right, from the hips. Keep your hands straight, with palms open.
- Your left hand would be on top, pointing at the sky, while the right hand would be stretched to point at the floor. Rest the right hand gently on the floor, your right ankle or foot, whichever you can reach.
- Your shoulders should be aligned with each other. Turn your head slowly to look at your left thumb.
- Stay in the position for at least three to four breaths.
- To release, bring down your arms as you breathe in and straighten your feet. Come back to the original standing position.
7. Tree Posture (Vrksasana)
The tree posture is an excellent asana for training your body to balance. It strengthens the thigh and calf muscles, torso, and groin. This pose is an excellent remedy for flat feet and also helps alleviate sciatica.
- Stand in the mountain pose or Tadasana, with your back straight, and feet together.
- Your weight should be distributed equally between both your legs.
- Slowly raise the left foot, as if standing on your toes such that the weight is shifted to the right foot.
- Bend your left leg and pull it up – your knee and your hip should be at a right angle.
- Now place your left foot on the right leg’s ankle bone or shin bone. To complete the tree pose, bring your foot higher and bring it in to rest it against the right thigh. The left knee should be pointing to the left.
- Press the thigh into the foot – there is pressure from both sides.
- Do not place the foot on the knee joint.
- Keep your shoulders up and raise your hands up as if in prayer, and press your palms together (with equal pressure from both sides) to find the midline region for balance.
- The idea is to balance by drawing the strength to the torso, not the left leg.
- Keep your eyes focused straight, ahead of you. This also helps you balance.
- Stay in the pose for three breaths.
- Release the leg slowly and bring it down to get out of the pose.
Seated poses in yoga focus more on flexibility rather than on building strength. These postures aim at flexing the hip and abdomen muscles. Seated poses help you sit in a better posture, and especially repair any damages that sitting for long hours at a desk can do to your body.
8. Butterfly Pose (Badhakonasana)
The Butterfly pose or the Badhakonasana stretches the inner thigh muscles, groin, and hip area. It improves bowel movement and relieves you of the tightness or fatigue in muscles, which results from sitting for too long on a chair.
- Sit on the mat with your back straight and your legs stretched in front of you.
- Bend your knees and draw them closer to you, such that the feet are touching each other.
- The heels should be as close as possible to the groin area.
- Grab both the feet tightly with your hands, while keeping the feet together and back straight.
- As you breathe in, move your knees sideways, and press them down as much as possible, so that they touch the floor. It is alright if your knees are not touching the floor. Just press them down as far as possible.
- Flap both the legs at a time, like a butterfly, flaps its wings. Start slowly and pick up speed as you go.
- Every time you flap, make sure that the legs go as high as possible and come back to the original position, closer to the floor.
- Breathe fully, taking deep breaths as you flap your legs.
- Each time you flap, you can feel the stretch of the inner thigh muscles and the hip region.
- Flap for as long as you can and slow down before you stop completely.
[ Read: Muscle Building Exercises For Teens ]
9. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
The seated forward bend or the Paschimottanasana is a slightly difficult seated yoga pose that teens can try. This asana stretches your lower back and massages the abdominal and the pelvic muscles. People with back problems should not try this pose without the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.
- Sit on a mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Your legs should be touching the ground fully and firmly – right from the thighs to the feet.
- Keep your back straight and relax your shoulders. Slowly lift your arms up above you as you breathe in.
- As you breathe out, bend forward from the hip region while keeping the spine erect.
- Move your chin and the upper body towards your toes without moving your buttocks or bending your spine.
- Bend as far as you can and hold your feet or legs, whichever you can reach.
- Breathe in as you stretch your back – keep your head up to see your toes.
- Breathe out as your navel moves towards the knees.
- Keep your hands in front of you.
- When you have stretched as much as you can, put your head down and breathe for 20 to 40 seconds, or as long as you can hold.
- To release – breathe in and come back to the sitting position slowly, with your arms still raised above you. Slowly bring the arms down as you breathe out.
- Repeat the moves as many times as you can,
10. Fire Log Pose (Agnistambhasana)
Like other seated poses, the fire log pose helps in relieving stiffness in the hip muscles and improves your posture. This is one of the simplest seated yoga poses for teenagers.
- Place yourself firmly on a yoga mat with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- Shrug your shoulders a little and keep your spine erect, while pressing the lower tips of your shoulder into the back.
- Slowly, place the shin of the left leg parallel to the edge of the mat.
- Keep it to the ground while you lift the right leg from outside the hip. Relax your leg in that position.
- Place the right foot on the left knee, without moving the left leg. As you do this, your right hip goes wide, while the left hip is grounded.
- Slowly move the right hip back to the ground, with your right leg on top of the left leg. Make sure that the left leg stays on the ground and the right leg on top of the left, with the right ankle on the left knee.
- You will feel the abdominal and the hip muscles stretching, strengthening the core. Maintain distance between the pubis and the navel.
- As your hips are grounded, cross your legs by moving them in the opposite direction. Keep your torso long, and avoid hunching as you widen the posture.
- You are in the Agnistambhasana position once the shins are on top of each other.
- Breathe in that position for 20 seconds.
- To release, breathe in with the belly and uncross your legs slowly.
- Repeat the moves with the left leg on the top.
11. Boat Pose (Navasana)
There are three variations of this pose, which help strengthen the abdominal muscles. They also flex the hip muscles and work on the vertebral column.
- Sit on a mat with your legs in front of you. Your knees should be bent, and the feet should be planted firmly on the ground.
- Keep your hands pressed to the floor just a little behind your hips.
- Lean your back slightly, while keeping your spine erect and hands on the floor.
- As you lean back, lift your legs slowly to bring the shins parallel to the floor.
- Lengthen the upper torso by lifting your upper back a little. Lift your hands and extend them forward alongside the legs, such that the palms are facing each other.
- Try not to sag or hunch.
- Lengthen the upper torso some more and lift your legs further to a 45-degree angle, such that you form a ‘V’ shape with your body.
- Stay in that position for five breaths – keep it steady and breathe easily and smoothly to be able to hold the position.
- Focus your gaze on your toes as you feel the inner energy.
- To release, exhale and bring your legs and hands back to the floor, in a relaxed manner.
Resting and restorative yoga poses should be saved for the last, when the body has been worked up a little with the sitting and the standing poses.
[ Read: Fitness Tips For Your Teenagers ]
12. Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
The savasana or corpse pose so called because it replicates a relaxed and rested posture of a dead body. This helps you get into a meditative state which reduces stress and also aids in repair and regeneration of tissue cells. The savasana is the ideal posture to end an active or fast-paced yoga session.
- On a yoga mat or carpet, lie down on your back. Get into a resting or relaxing state of mind.
- Keep your legs together, not too wide or too close. Relax your leg muscles – from your thighs to the toes.
- Keep your hands to the sides – relax the muscles as you settle down into the posture. Your palms should be facing upward.
- Focus on each part of the boy as you breathe in and out. Start with the right foot, move up to the ankle, shin and knees, to the thigh muscles. Do the same with the left leg.
- Move your focus upward to the different parts of the body until you cover every part from toe to head.
- Keep breathing gently as you focus on your body.
- Stay in that position for ten to 15 minutes or until you feel completely rested.
13. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
The child’s pose stretches your back muscles, hips, thighs, and ankles. Proper practice of this asana can help alleviate backache. This pose relaxes the body and helps you sleep better.
- Kneel down on the yoga mat.
- Move into a seated position slowly, by resting your hips on your heels.
- Bend forward to rest your forehead on the mat.
- Keep your hands straight – stretch them in front of you. You will feel the back muscles stretch a little.
- Move the legs apart to keep the chest open, your belly should be between the two legs.
- Stay in the posture for at least three to four breaths.
- To release – slowly pull your upper torso up and get your hands on your sides.
4 Yoga Games And Activities For Teens
Yoga is not all serious business. You can make yoga a fun activity for teens with these ideas.
1. Pass the orange
This is a simple yoga game that teaches teens that they can use their feet for more than just walking. Ask one person to hold an orange with their feet and pass it on to the next person’s feet without using their hands. When they do, make them say something silly like “orange you thankful for …” or “orange you having fun?”
2. What Do You Hear?
This is an excellent mindfulness game that your teens will enjoy. Ask the participants to sit silently inside the room. Ask them to close their eyes and make a mental note of what they hear – it could be the sound of their neighbor breathing, the tick-tock of a clock, or the humming of the AC. One person can start sharing what they heard and ask – Did you hear what I heard?
3. Yogi Says
This is a variation of Simon Says, but with yoga poses. Let one person be the Yogi and ask them to say “The Yogi says…” followed by the name of an asana. The rest of the participants must quickly get into that asana. If the Yogi says the name of the asana without saying “Yogi says”, then the participants should not strike that pose.
Toe-Ga is a fun game for teens and younger kids. This game aims at strengthening the toes and increasing their agility. You will need some colorful pompoms, small enough to fit between two toes. You will also need a few bowls or containers. Every participant gets a bowl, which they keep at one corner of the room. Pour the pompoms in the center and ask the teens to pick one pompom at a time with their toes and put it in their bowl. The person with most pompoms is the winner.
4 Tips To Make Your Teenager Practice Yoga
If you want children to practice yoga, you need to make it fun, and we’ll tell you how.
- Teens have a voice and want to be treated as adults. An effective way that teachers can use to make yoga interesting for teens is to treat them as adults. Give them responsibilities and explain the science of yoga as you would to adults.
- Yoga helps you love yourself and accept your body image. If you are teaching yoga to teens, impress them by being confident about who you are and how you look. Teens usually have a negative body image and teaching them that beauty is inside out can encourage them to try yoga.
- Music is cool. See if you can play some music when they do yoga, to see if your teens can connect with it.
- Explain what they are doing – by telling teens about each pose and how they benefit from them. Discuss their experiences real time, not just to showcase your expertise, but also gain their respect and trust.
Most importantly, show your teens that yoga is the ‘in’ thing right now. Tell them how it is one of the most popular practices in the world today and why more people are switching to yoga. The more they realize that yoga actually has benefits and is practiced by famous people (maybe even their idols) around the world, they will be happy to try it and practice it too.