“I wanted a “flat” stomach”, confessed Reed when I asked what brought her to class. Commendably, Reed was willing to commit to her physical fitness and my class fit her full schedule. Just out of high school, Reed was starting fresh in college.
It is certainly common for new students to conceive of yoga as a series of movements focused on the outwardly impressive poses. The magnificent practices of Yoga Tune Up® and asana* clearly do result in greater flexibility, strength, and physical rehabilitation for the body.
Reed had not anticipated the psychological benefits from class. Harnessing the power of the yogic complete breath, Reed has learned to slow down her runaway thoughts.
“Yoga has helped with my anxiety. I just didn’t anticipate the mental aspect. I used to get worked up and overwhelmed easily. Now I notice my breath and thoughts more. I don’t beat myself up. I’ve personally experienced that I can even meditate! Yoga has helped me learn who I am in a positive way. I enjoy all of it-particularly the breathing, the Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls, and the downward dog, which totally relieves my lower back tension. I would tell a student considering this class: don’t have any preconceived notion about Yoga.”
Clearly, chronological age is not always associated with wisdom. 18 year old Reed beautifully proves that point. Here’s a lovely breath practice that can help you tap into that awareness for yourself (and find more of this on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Stress Relief here).
*translated as “comfortable seat”, but also considered the physical postures of yoga.
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I think that yoga tune up can be especially helpful with easing anxiety. We hold so much in our tight muscles and some times we need to let go physically to let go emotionally. These are the really rewarding moments in teaching – giving someone more than they ever expected.
I teach restorative yoga, along with other forms of the practice (vinyasa, yin, etc…), but restorative is like that favorite child that you don’t want to admit is your favorite. It is a wonderful experience to guide my students through conscious rest and to help in a way that they can incorporate on their own. I only wish that when I stumbled into my first yoga class at 19 years of age, that I had the same insight into the practice as Reed, but I wasn’t ready to hear that message.
Yoga has been a part of my life since I was a child. I attended Iyengar yoga classes with my mom as a teenager and then took a few years away to do other things (mostly sing and dance.) In my mid-twenties, living in New York, I found my way back. It was at that point that I realized that yoga was powerfully healing. I used to say it was like medicine and that it made me feel “normal.”
These days my practice is limited to a few wiggles on the floor now and then but I still cherish those moments to breathe and connect to the core of who I really am.
I wish every young woman could experience that connection. “Yoga butt” is temporary but the ability to soothe ryourself and to connect to your true nature lasts a lifetime.
Incredible work. I wish I had known about yoga when I was 18. Its an enlightning practice. I love the way Jill instructs the breath practices in sivasana. I feel totally plugged in and blissed out every time. I feel blessed that this week I’ve had the privilidge of having her lead me and our YTU trainee class into sivasana all week long. Thanks for your article!
Good to see this young lady exercising curiosity, interest, and commitment to being in a healthy place in her body. So many times this is not the case this day and age with young people… Not to say it never happens, I’d just say from my own experience that this was not my priority when I was younger. Cheers to her and thanks for sharing the post!
so nice when you hear of young people, especially teenagers, learning to respect their body in a significant way. They’re either uber-athletes, who are conditioned to compete and push their bodies to the limit, or image conscious based on popular media, or simply don’t do anything physical. But if they can start to feel their mind-body connection sooner rather than later, they set themselves for a future of good health. They don’t teach that in school, sadly.
This is one reason why I love yoga so much – on the outside, it seems like you’re just working on the physical body, but other parts of ourselves – the mental, emotional, and spiritual parts, for example – are EFFORTLESSLY being affected at the same time. You certainly don’t get that with other sports. Yay, Yoga! 🙂
Thank you for sharing Bonnie! It’s so exciting to witness young people discovering themselves in a new form. I myself began practicing yoga at 13 and now as a young yoga teacher I attract young people into my classes. Young yogis want to achieve strength and confidence and the ability to discover things about themselves that they had know idea even existed! However, they need someone encouraging and patient so that they don’t give up on themselves when they fall the first few times. They struggle with being still but this is something that you witness them improving week after week which is sooo cool. I always try face them away from a mirror so they focus more on themselves and less on the competition 😉
Such a great story to share. I was first exposed to yoga at age 15, but was discouraged at how difficult it was! After a back injury at 20, I thought yoga would be a perfect “fix” for my abdominal weakness. What I found in addition to a pain free back was a complete break from my intense collegiate studies and a lifelong tool to improve relations with myself and others! As a community, we should be doing more to bring yoga to the youth as it is absolutely life changing =)
Wow! so wonderful to hear about a young woman taking responsability for herSELF, her innerself.
This little stress relief video almost made me go to sleep sitting up! I agree with Cindy that it seems that so many people come to yoga trying to attain a certain body shape rather than to taking of advantage of the mental healing and relaxing that can be so beneficial.
My 4 year old often tries to practice with me. His practice is about 5 minutes long with occasional jumping jacks in between but even at 4 he appreciates the ‘peaceful’ (his description) feeling after Savasana.
I love this story. So often i get people who come into yoga because of this notion that they can get this body they see on some magazine cover. There are some, even with their type A personality, that find the breath and slow down to bring a sense of calm. One of my messages I try to give in class is the idea to focus in on the breath and how it is possible to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and slow down the heart rate, by slowing down the breath. Imagine living in a world wehere everyone meditated, can you feel the peace?
Thanks for reading Kate and Alejandra!
Great story! I love seeing how the practice of yoga always works, it gives practitioners of any age not only incredible health benefits but also it helps us to embody our bodies in a very conscious way. We become ourselves because we learn in the sweetest way to love and be comfortable in our skins, in our cells. This is one of the greatest gifts yoga has given to me. I also love how the fruits of the practice expand from the mat into our everyday activities by imprinting in us new behavioral patterns.
That is really sweet. It’s important for a young woman to find awareness in her own body and know how to deregulate your senses with the breath. By practicing the Yoga Tune Up method, she is setting herself for many pain free years ahead!
Hi Claiborne! Thanks for the post and the great example of using awareness and the breath.
It’s amazing what a little concentrated breathing can do. I sure could have used this awareness growing up in my stressed-induced scholastic life. Since getting introduced to yoga about ten years ago, I’ve noticed a gradual shift in my ability to not sweat the small stuff. I was on the tennis court today and let a major lead slip away, but I just breathed deeply and was able to calmly shrug off my sudden poor play instead of throwing my racquet in disgust, which would have been my way of reacting in my pre-yoga days. Reed is lucky to have discovered YTU and Bonnie at an early age!
Thanks for your comments everyone!
ahhh, the best, my favourite pose. Savasana. I’m so glad I found this, but I also wish I found it 30 years ago. Wonder how my life would have turned out if I was aware back then. However, that’s not important anymore. What’s important that I’m here and aware. YAY!!!
Yoga is for young and old. It is refreshing to read about Reed and her success on her yoga journey
I HAVE WORKED WITH LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF TEENAGERS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS. SOME KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANTED OUT OF YOGA, OTHERS HAD NO IDEA WHAT YOGA WAS, AND SOME ONLY THOUGHT THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR. OFFERING OPPORTUNITIES TO DEVELOP A YOGA PRACTICE AT ALL AGE GROUPS IS AMAZING. I STILL HAVE STUDENTS WHO BEGAN PRACTICING YOGA IN 1ST GRADE, EVEN KINDERGARTEN AND ARE STILL IN MY YOGA CLASSES. I HAVE TEENS THAT HAVE SINCE GRADUATED COLLEGE AND ARE STILL PRACTICING YOGA. IT IS SUCH AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO TOUCH SO MANY LIVES AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE.
I love when I see young people in Yoga classes. I am so happy that Reed was able to get so much more from Yoga than a “flat” stomach. She is lucky to have you as a teacher, Bonnie
Sally and Kenya, thank you for reading, and your comments. You both are doing wonderful work!
I love to hear stories of how yoga is used with teens. I am a yoga teacher and a school social worker and recently led an anger managment group with about seven teens. I explained to the teens that meditation and yoga would be incorporated into our sessions. They seemed indifferent at first, we began just by working on our breath which is key when trying to calm down. Towards the end of our sessions they each wanted a cd of music used during our meditation.
Bonnie, So great that you are working with teens. I teach highschool science and they are sooooo stressed with social, cultural and parental pressures. When I get certified, I’ll try to bring some calm during my chemistry classes and perhaps for all during the lunch period.
Adan, Yeah for your granddaughter! Glad you’re connecting with the blog!
this is so weird, my son just told me my oldest granddaughter started her first yoga class tonight!
didn’t notice til near the end that the video had captions! thank you, “super” helpful
and the routine? well, what can i say? bolsters, respiration, and rest –
thanks so much,