Teaching Yoga to Pre-Teens

teaching yoga

Designing a yoga class that targets pre-teens can be a difficult task. Not only are pre-teens' bodies changing and growing, but their attention spans can be short and sporadic. As with any teaching experience, it is important to be familiar with the audience and target the material to fit them. Yoga is a versatile practice and it can be adapted to fit all body types, ages and interests. The more relevant a yoga practice is to the issues they are facing, the more interest a pre-teen will have in developing their practice and feeling the benefits.

Begin with the Breath

Beginning class with breath awareness is no different than any other yoga class, but it can be even more important for young people. Try to use imagery and color in opening meditation. Have students imagine their breath as their favorite color that moves through their body. Focus their attention on their fingertips so they can feel a subtle pulse. Guiding focus to a body part or an image can aid in avoiding distraction or self-consciousness.

Choose Accessible Poses

Teaching accessible poses does not mean that the poses have to be easy. In fact, young girls and boys are often quite flexible. Instead, choose poses that engage major parts of the body so it is easy for students to feel the different aspects of the pose. For example, Warrior II engages the quadriceps and opens the hips. Students find their strength challenged, which increases their focus on the body instead of comparing themselves or talking to their classmates.

Build Confidence and Trust

Creating a sequence can be a delicate balance of choosing poses that leave students feeling both capable and challenged. It is important for the instructor to stay present to each student in order to provide individual support and encouragement. Inversions such as handstands are great confidence boosters, and they offer multiple health benefits, but it is important to use preparatory poses so students do not feel put to an impossible task.

The use of props can be helpful in these situations. It creates interaction for the students and also safety for the whole class. It is important for the students to trust their teacher. They should feel safe and attended to both physically and emotionally as they take risks in attempting different poses.

Create an Interactive Class

Encourage students to use their voices. After each pose, ask them what the pose feels like in their body. Ask them how it made them feel emotionally. This is a key in encouraging body awareness and linking it to expression. The more familiarity a young person has with their body, the more ease they will have in accepting the changes of adolescence in personal and interpersonal ways.

Leave Time to Relax

Just as in any other yoga class, all of the work of the poses build to the final savasana, or the final relaxation. This is vital to adults who are rushing to family and work, and it is also essential for young people who feel the pressure of school work and relationships. As pre-teens are introduced to the higher pressures of life, it is important to remind them of the access they have to relaxation. This time of rest is when the body absorbs all the benefits of the preceding practice, so ample time is important. The use of essential oils or perhaps a light temple message can help students feel the permission to relax.

The elements of a yoga class for pre-teens is similar to any other yoga class in that the objective is a sense of deeper self awareness and calm. It can be fun and challenging as a teacher to reform ideas and teaching styles to accommodate a different kind of student. After all, teaching a class can be just as educational as taking a class!

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