What I Learned Teaching Yoga to High School Freshmen

L&G yoga

A few weeks ago, I visited my high school (14 years post-graduation) to teach yoga to freshmen. These kids are lucky enough to have a “Fitness for Life” class, where they are exposed to weight training, pilates, kickboxing and other types of exercise, outside of traditional sports.  Walking through those high school doors was amazingly scary! There’s something about high school that brings back every fear, hope, and dream I felt as a teen. My motivation was not to relive these moments – I could’ve skipped those! My motivation was to share yoga and get the kids moving and breathing in new ways.

Here’s what I learned:

Peer pressure lives. We felt so independent as teens, didn’t we? How many of our decisions were truly ours, and not our friends? Looking across the mat at these young boys & girls, I remembered the strength of peer pressure and how each moment can feel like a ‘cool kid test.’

Everyone’s looking for acceptance & love.  We’re all just trying to fit in. Is this feeling ever so strong as in high school? As I asked the kids to try puppy or cobra pose, the gym was full of laughter. Who is this lady in stretchy tights asking us to embody animal shapes? The kids often sought confirmation from their friends before trying a pose themselves.

Our kids need nurturing. Cruising into adulthood, our teens need lots of TLC. Kids today grow up fast and if we can teach them to nurture themselves, body and mind at a young age, we can instill healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Boys flop around. That’s right, high school boys are goofs. Silly and fun, they aim to make the girls laugh. A vinyasa quickly turned into boys slipping and sliding across their mats and face-planting. They brought a smile to my face and I couldn’t help but laugh. It was great to see they were having fun, even if it turned into a flop.

Fitness is fun. Our kids are constantly plugged in. Iphones, Facebook, video games and texting.  Today’s kids are more comfortable on the Internet than they are playing outside.  By teaching our kids that fitness is fun, we can set the tone for a lifelong habit of health and wellness. Balance is needed in teens’ lives.  If your child doesn’t like playing basketball, take them to karate or a yoga class.  Just because kids don’t like traditional sports, doesn’t mean they can’t be active.

After teaching a 60 minute flow class, the kids were ready for savasana. I let them know (in my best schoolteacher voice), that this was their chance to tune into themselves and just be. The high school gym was quiet. The kids were sprawled out in corpse pose, no movement whatsoever. Slowly they began to wiggle their fingers and toes. We closed class with ‘Om’ and the kids had a nice rosy glow on their cheeks.

But you know, boys will be boys. And they resumed flopping around!

Thanks to Tammy Claussen at Leland & Gray UHS.