Yoga for Tweens and Teens
by Meagan Howell, What's Up! Kids Magazine, 15 May 2012
Yoga has long been part of my life, and when I became a parent I delighted in how my little ones seemed to naturally move into poses like downward dog, child's pose, and happy baby. Practicing yoga feels so good, and discovering firsthand that children are natural yogis and yoginis reinforced my intuitive sense of its value. But what happens when toddlers grow into tweens, with lives full of homework, social pressures, and general hustle and bustle? How do they hang onto that easy, restorative physicality that comes so readily to younger children?
Julie Blamphin, of Stretch Your Spirit, has some ideas about that. She is leading a Tween/Teen Yoga Club (TTYC) this spring at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. I can hardly imagine a better setting or a better age group to practice with. I asked her a few questions about the club, and I'm happy to share her responses here with you! Read on for our interview.
What's Up: How did the TTYC come about? Is this the first time you are teaching it?
JB: The idea of the Tween/Teen Yoga Club began years ago. My nieces & nephews all gather around to practice poses with me when I visit. I find it fascinating they always want a bit of meditation as well! Sharing that story with my friends at Lululemon & my clients at Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has sparked the interest for the TTYC, which began on April 23rd.
WU: What are some of the benefits of yoga, specifically for teens and tweens?
JB: In this age group, we're exploring boundaries & wondering which we can cross. It's a curious time! The TTYC is all about practicing mindful courage. The benefits of yoga include (but are definitely not limited to!) developing creativity & trust; improving strength, balance, & posture; & encouraging confidence in a healthy body image.
WU: Who can participate? Do you need prior experience with yoga?
JB: Boys & girls ages 9-14 may participate in the TTYC. They need no experience with yoga but they must be willing to make a commitment. Each will be asked to sign a 'Commitment to Self' letter that states their willingness to practice the important elements of yoga such as truth, trust, kindness, & compassion. Further language in the commitment letter includes respect, self-control, calm energy, & the importance of 'no bullying'.
WU:How many kids participate?
JB: 10 - 15 kids [will participate] in the club but there are so many more who I've heard from with conflicting schedules. And this is a great reason for kids to practice yoga...they are so busy these days! Finding moments to connect with Self is vital for life balance & the best time to learn this is when we're young.
WU: What do you like about teaching and practicing yoga with this age group?
JB: This age group is awesome...so empowered, yet cautious. These are young people who still want to be kids but they're also feeling the pressures to expand their awareness of the world. It's a delicate time because of the balance of their desires for freedom & guidance.
WU: Are you a parent yourself? If so, does practicing yoga inform your parenting?
JB: I am not a parent yet have been involved with children for as long as I can remember. A friend once told me that part of my dharma (Sanskrit word for 'purpose') is to teach children but if I had my own I wouldn't have the opportunity nor time to reach many others. My teaching experience began in 1981 when I was 14 years old in my mother's school of gymnastics in upstate New York. I worked one-on-one with kids with disabilities who were practicing for the Special Olympics & this coaching experience was the foundation of my life work.
WU: How can a kid interested in joining learn more about what to expect from the group?
JB: Every kid in the TTYC realizes how important it is to be their most awesome Self! This is an opportunity to practice powerful poses & also techniques for calming our energy... but just as important, we'll realize how everything & everyone is interconnected. We have a responsibility in the universe that yoga can help us understand.
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