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Teens, Stress, and How Yoga Can Help

Stephanie Stanley
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Would you believe that 3 of every 4 Americans reports suffering from stress? That’s 244 MILLION people and $300 BILLION in annual costs to employers for stress-related health care and missed work.

Statistic and dollars aside, there’s a deeper concern lurking beneath the surface. What impact is a nation full of stressed out adults having on our youth? In short…it’s producing a nation full of stressed out kids. Teens in particular are falling into the cracks of this epidemic-sized hole as they struggle to navigate life in an increasingly anxious and stressed out world.

Let’s first take a realistic look at stress. Stress more or less stems from our perception of circumstance coupled with our ability to cope with it. When boiled down, stress impacts 3 key factors: your body, mind, and breathing. Sound familiar?
 
Enter yoga – the miracle antidote for stress.
 
Yogis have long understood yoga’s ability to decrease the impact of stress, and finally the rest of world is catching on. A quick Google search of “yoga and stress” yields hundreds of results proving the positive effect yoga can have on a stressed out body and mind. Even websites with traditionally western schools of thought like WebMD have articles recommending yoga for stress and anxiety.

With numerous studies and ample data now backing the practice of yoga, educators and medical professionals alike are recommending it to the teens they work with, and good news – they’re getting a good response.
 
How does yoga actually help teens cope with stress?
 
Physically, yoga helps teens the same way it helps adults. Yet in the context of stressed out teens specifically, yoga offers several coping methods:
 
 

1. Permission to Unplug:

With the influx of standardized tests, hours of homework and now social media, there are countless stress triggers in a teenager’s life. Teens are constantly plugged into a social media-based world of comparison, judgment, and constant chatter. The worst part? With the advent of smart phones, this constant chatter follows them home in their pocket. Even the sanctuary of their bedroom isn’t a safe haven from the barrage of the outside world.

Yoga offers a retreat from the constant buzz. It’s only demands are that you leave your phone and shoes outside the studio door. For an entire hour, your mind is off the hook to focus solely on the action of connecting breath and movement. What an amazing opportunity for a stressed out teenager to find shelter from the chaos through yoga!

Watch this video from Alan Watts to understand why it is so important to quite our minds:

 
 

2. Find Positive Role Models on Social Media:

No matter how much time a teen spends in a yoga studio, a good portion of their day will revolve around social media. Don’t get me wrong – social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is the world we live in, and there is a lot of good that can come from that level of connection. So instead of hating on social media or resisting its influence over teenagers (and all of us for that matter), we can instead view it as an opportunity to show teens positive role models to like, follow and retweet.

For teens, yoga can open up a world of positive possibilities:
Acroyoga, SUP Yoga, nature lovers, adventures, urban yoga – there is a tribe for everyone! Just the knowledge that all these things exist allows teens to fill their newsfeed with things that inspire them: challenges, inspirations, epic goals – there is so much inspiring material on social media…if you know where to look.

Join our Facebook group, TheYogaRoom or follow some yogis on Instagram. All that positivity is sure to rub off.
 

 

3. Learn Self-Coping Tools:

The truth of life is that there will be always be obstacles. It’s inevitable, and also necessary. Every time we are challenged, we are given an opportunity for growth, connection and experience. Sure, these obstacles can certainly lead to chaos in our lives, but yoga teaches us to recognize the good in every situation. Yoga teaches us coping tools that help us navigate through the chaotic times.

The breath is perhaps the most powerful tool to cope with stress, and one that can be utilized in any stressful situation. There is a lot of power in focusing completely on our physical movement. Apply this to everyday life, and our conscious breath will teach us to focus solely on the present moment. Becoming consciously rooted in the present moment teaches us complete acceptance. In the present moment, we are reminded that we are enough, so we can break the illusion that life is too much to handle. What an important, invaluable gift to teach a teenager.
 
But Will the “Cool Factor” Make Teens Shy Away from Yoga?
 
Many schools are (finally) starting to replace torturous dodge ball sessions with more beneficial forms of exercise, and some have even implemented yoga programs (yay!). But might we assume that yoga will be a passing fad for teenage hipsters? Perhaps, but media hype and celebrity status are working in a positive favor, making yoga a normal part of everyday life. Teens are watching their favorite celebrities talk about the benefits of yoga and seeing more and more adults taking up the practice. If you live in a big city, you’ll notice yoga studios are practically on every corner. Like it or not, when things become common, they’re readily accepted. Chances are “taking a deep breath” to calm your mind will be as well known to today’s teens as “take a chill pill” was to the MTV generation. What an amazing and welcome evolution that will be!
 
 
There are now over 1.7 million children and teens practicing yoga – a number that Psychology Today reported has grown by 400,000 in the last decade. Hell. Yeah. And while the professionals remain quick to praise yoga as a benefit for at-risk youth, autism, and teens with depression and anxiety (duh), teens themselves are now discovering that yoga isn’t just the holy grail for coping with stress; it’s a practical state of mind for everyday life. Now that’s a powerful practice!!

Do you know any teens who could benefit from yoga? (Here’s a clue: they all can.) Share this article with them, and help spread the word and empower our youth to take control over living a calmer, less stressed-out life.

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Stephanie Stanley

Stephanie Stanley lives in Chandler, AZ and is a mom of 2. She teaches Buti yoga and is the creator of GiveBirth, a new approach to childbirth education. Beyond credentials and labels she is a connoisseur of life, always curious, always willing to try something new. Her husband is her best friend and when they’re not enjoying a cup of coffee together they like to hike, travel, read and cook delicious, healthy gourmet food.

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