The Power of Yoga for Teens During COVID-19

—Melissa Johnson, PhD
Psychologist, CEO of the Institute for Girls’ Development

What are your teens doing to de-stress and stay energized during this challenging time?

Moving our bodies, stretching, challenging our physical selves are all great ways to release our every day tensions. Yoga is one movement modality that is particularly effective for teens right now.

Yoga offers a variety of benefits:  Research supports the benefits of yoga for flexibility, balance, coordination, focus, and cooperation.

It contributes to a positive body image: Here at the Institute, we’re also interested in the value of yoga for enhancing body image. In this media-saturated world, teens are bombarded with messages about their bodies – what their bodies are supposed to look like to meet stereotyped impossible standards. Many parents ask us, “What can we do to help our daughter feel good about her body and who she is?” Helping teens experience their bodies as a source of strength and balance is a great starting place.

It’s fun: Doing yoga together is a form of playing together. And, playing together has all kinds of benefits for our brains, our bodies and our relationships! There might be laughter, physical challenges, and the value of a shared experience – all good stuff!

It helps build comfort in our own skin: Yoga gives us a chance to pay attention to body sensations and experiences, from the inside out. It’s not about how we look; it’s about a mindful awareness of what we are experiencing on the inside. I often ask girls who enjoy yoga, “what pose do you like to do when you want to relax? Or increase your energy? Or feel strong before facing a challenge?” I love listening to girls’ answers as they think about their internal wisdom. When parents are also into yoga, it can be a lively conversation, comparing favorite poses for various benefits.

It’s relaxing: Being able to slow down and stretch out is a gift to our teens. When they take that deep relaxing breath and settle into the present moment, they’re able to notice their lives in fresh ways and respond to stressors with groundedness and ease.

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