Yoga & Mindfulness -Teens
Adolescence is an adventure, a time for teens to experiment and discover who they are and where they fit into the world. The brain changes that teens go through are phenomenal, driving the sometimes baffling, sometimes dramatic, sometimes wonderful changes that come with adolescence.
As part of these changes, teens will feel deeper and more intensely than they’ve ever felt before. They’ll be more creative, funnier and more driven to seek social connections as their ‘tribe’ shifts from family to friends. This is all a very normal, healthy part of the shift towards adulthood, but with so much going on, the path can be a complicated one.
Anything that strengthens adolescents in mind, body and spirit will be valuable in helping them to navigate their way through adolescence and emerge beautifully into adulthood. Mindfulness and yoga can provide this powerful scaffold by helping to balance the massive brain changes that come with adolescence.
An abundance of research has shown that mindfulness and yoga cause measureable changes in the brain by strengthening existing connections and establishing new ones. Here are some of them:
The emotional centers of the brain undergo dramatic changes during adolescence. This means that teens will tend to feel things with more intensity than ever. Their highs will be brilliant and their lows will be awful. Eventually the intensity will settle down, but in the meantime, mindfulness and yoga can nurture the self-awareness teens need to manage their emotions and respond effectively and thoughtfully to situations, rather than on impulse.
During adolescence, teens will experiment with who they are and where they fit in to the world. This is an important part of them growing into the people they will be when they step into the world as adults. They’ll find amazing ways of looking at the world and they’ll seek to stretch the edges of themselves to find what they’re capable of. This is where they surprise themselves and the people who around them. Mindfulness and yoga can give them a solid foundation from which to stretch into this self-exploration by lifting self-acceptance, confidence, self-esteem and resilience. Anything that gives them solid ground from which to fly is a great thing.
Mindfulness and yoga have been shown to improve posture, physical strength, and range of motion. There’s something else it does which is particularly important during adolescence. We know that stress can compromise immunity, but mindfulness and yoga can push back, strengthening the immune system, improving sleep quality, reducing tiredness and aches and pains. Just what a teen needs to light the world on fire.
Adolescence tends to come bundled with a decent amount of stress, which affects the part of the brain responsible for learning and emotions. Mindfulness and yoga have a proven capacity to heal and protect against the symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness and yoga are proven ways to nurture empathy, kindness, patience and compassion, all of which are vital to forming healthy friendships. They can also reduce aggression and boost emotional intelligence, empowering teens to respond effectively and thoughtfully to situations and people and build strong, positive social connections.
Mindfulness strengthens learning by improving the executive function of the brain. Central to executive function is the ability to focus and concentrate, and provide a considered response rather than an impulsive one and problem solving.
The world is still unfolding the benefits of mindfulness and yoga. What is certain though, is that they have an incredible capacity to strengthen and nurture the development of teens in key areas, readying them to be the amazing adults they are all capable of being.