by Ofrit Gal
Between changing bodies and peer scrutiny, being a tween can be tough.
Tweens start having more pressure to succeed in school, homework becomes more challenging, and there seems to be more emphasis on how well you are doing in sports and other activities.
Tweens are also much more exposed to news of violence and natural disasters than generations before them. Texting and messaging have formed a different type of socializing and communication. All of these can bring up a lot of stress, confusion, and frustration.
Yoga and mindfulness provide tweens effective tools to navigate these challenging years and can help them develop healthy habits and awareness that will be there for them for the rest of their lives.
So how can yoga and mindfulness help our tweens?
- Stress can be reduced significantly by practicing yoga and mindfulness. Yoga helps reduce stress by decreasing the fight or flight response while at the same time increasing the production of “feeling good” hormones that are known to improve the sense of well-being.
- Tweens experience changes in their bodies and often struggle with a healthy body image. Yoga and mindfulness help them focus on their body in a more healthy way by learning to love and accept their bodies as they are. It also helps strengthen their body, improves coordination, balance and good posture.
- Tweens are also beginning to explore who they are and their existence in relationships to the world. Yoga opens the door to self-discovery and this practice allows them to explore their mind and body and question self-defeating beliefs and habits. It cultivates self-discipline, healthy eating habits, and self-care habits they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
- Yoga and mindfulness also help tweens to find their center, giving them tools to stay calm in the midst of a fast-changing, sometimes frightening world.
- The practice of yoga is a doorway for self-empowerment, self-love and compassion and is one of the greatest gifts you can give the future generation.
Here are two easy steps to get started:
- One of the simplest and most beneficial breathing techniques for tweens is deep abdominal breathing. It’s easy to learn and can help tweens calm down. This is our natural breath, the way babies are breathing when their belly moves up as they inhale and down as they exhale. The simplest way to practice deep breathing is to lay on the back with the hands on the belly and feel the movement of the breath. Because of habits, many kids, tweens, and adults reverse the breathing, moving their belly in on the inhalation and out on the exhalation. It may take a bit of time to reverse, but if they work on it, they will change it into a more efficient way of breathing.
- Legs up the wall – This posture is one of the most nourishing, grounding and calming poses and is highly recommended when tweens feel overwhelmed, tired and stressed (i.e almost always). It is simple and can be done even on their bed before they go to sleep. All they have to do is lie on their back with their sit-bones as close to the wall as comfortable and extend their legs up the wall. This pose is a restorative inversion that calms the nervous system and helps quiet the mind.
Ofrit Gal is an experienced yoga teacher, specializing in kids, tween and family yoga programs. She is certified in Hatha Yoga (Yoga on Main, Manayunk), Kids Yoga (Karma Kids Yoga, NY), NGY TT, Yoga Mom Buddha Baby with Jyothi Larson, Brain Gym 101 with Mari Miyoshi and Yoga for Special Needs by Every Kid’s Yoga. She is the founder of Yoga at Play which leads a kids yoga program in pre-schools, schools and the studio at Fred’s Footsteps in Ardmore.