Take a think back and try to remember your youth… what stands out in your memory?
I have lots of milestone memories, as the teen years are a very significant time, but sadly, outside some of those ‘stand-out’ memories, the general theme for my youth is a feeling of not really being at home in myself. Teen years are a naturally confusing time as there is so much change going on in the body and of one’s position in life, but my time was even more confusing with this feeling of being lost—I didn’t know who I was, what I liked, or what I wanted. I had no guiding compass and this led to many poor decisions on my part as I was easily swayed by others’ ideas and opinions. This is an experience I’m sure many of our youth can relate to today.
Fast forward to now. After many years of practicing and teaching yoga, I developed a healthier relationship with my body and mind, learned how to self regulate, manage stress and emotions, and achieve better balance in my life. Most importantly, though, yoga has given me enough self-awareness and connection that it has empowered me to know who I am and what I want so that I am able to make right decisions for myself. Sheesh! I wish I’d been introduced yoga when I was younger.
Now consider the youth of today, and the weight of pressures they are facing. We are currently living through the second year of a global pandemic, full of uncertainty, fear, and isolation. Combine this with the regular pressures of the teen years as they navigate life through a distorted lens of social media and YouTube, and the and it’s no wonder why mental health illness is on the rise in our young people. We are living in a world of overstimulation and constant busyness and we rarely have opportunity to pause, reflect, feel, and quiet the internal monologue. We are starving for connection with ourselves and there is a degrading ability to know how to do this, and our youth are especially suffering.
This is where yoga fits in, it’s a discipline that directly counteracts the ails of our disconnected lives. Yoga provides the safe setting where you get time to move your body to feel better, time for introspection, and to learn skills of how to focus and calm—it’s a refuge from the rush. There are simple practices which help calm the racing mind, regulate emotions, and reconnect to ourselves. It’s actually all very simple… it just needs to be learned and practiced. I really think it’s time we get our young people learning the wisdom of yoga and valuing the self care that they need. It’s a perfect time in their lives to develop healthy new patterns and thrive through the inevitable pressures of life.