5 Keys for Teaching Teen Yoga

By: Chelsea Brady, E-RYT 200, RYT 500, YACEP, 2013 Yoga Alliance Foundation Scholarship Recipient

Published: May 30, 2017

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Teenage years can be a mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging time in a young person’s life. With changing bodies, dynamic emotions, and pressure from parents and peers, yoga can be a powerful outlet that allows teens to look inward and find center. For the past five years, I have taught teen yoga in public schools and studios. Here are my 5 keys to teaching this age group:

  1. Learn Who Your Students Are
    It is important to understand who your students are to build a trusting relationship. Learn their names and why they come to yoga. Find out what they like to do, what makes them laugh, and what makes them happy. Identify their strengths and areas of improvement. Be curious about who these young people are and get to know them.

  2. Give Them Tools
    I’ve always loved the metaphor “give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” The same applies to teaching teen yoga. You have an opportunity to provide young people with tools to navigate their bodies and minds for the rest of their lives. Teach them ways to calm themselves when they feel stress. Teach them poses to help them focus before homework or big tests. Explain the benefits of what you are doing so they can come back to it when they need it.

  3. Address Bad Behavior with Compassion
    When you have kids that act out, don’t lose your cool. You never know what is going on in a student’s life. Instead of getting upset, try to find compassion for them. Identify the behavior that upsets you and talk to them about it after class. Tell them how it makes you feel and ask them if it is something they would be willing to work on. Also, look for good behaviors and point them out with praise. You are not their parent or babysitter but rather someone who can see them in a new light and help them become self-aware. Believe in them and try to support them.

  4. Challenge Them
    Teenagers love to be challenged physically and mentally. This can be tricky when you have a class of varied skill and abilities, so build poses starting from easy variations then give options to add greater challenge. When you present challenging variations, make sure to emphasize that doing a more challenging variation does not make them “better at yoga,” but that good yoga is simply moving with consciousness and awareness of breath.

  5. Help Them Relax
    Emphasize how important it is to practice being still and quiet. The world is chaotic and fast. When we pause, we can hear the voice between our own ears. I give my students lots of time to let the asanas sink in. I teach various methods of stress relief from aromatherapy, restorative postures, self-massage, and visualizations to help them relax and turn inward.

Teaching teens is quite different from teaching children or adults and should be approached differently. With these tips, you can bring your yoga teaching to schools, extra-curricular activities, summer camps, and beyond to help the next generations of yogis find their practice.

About Chelsea

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Based in Santa Cruz, California, Chelsea Brady is a passionate holistic health practitioner. Chelsea was awarded the Gift of Yoga Scholarship in 2013 for her work with adaptive youth yoga, which allowed her to continue training at the 500-hour level. Since then, she has worked in schools, corporate settings, and studios teaching a wide range of ages and abilities. She is passionate about her work with teens and is co-leading her first Teen Yoga Teacher Training this year.

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