Highschoolers Petition for Yoga Classes

You’ve heard of high schoolers petition for modified academic requirements or for improved canteen menus. But yoga?

Kids at the Tuscon High Magnet School recently stepped it up a notch, submitting a petition for continuing yoga classes at their school. According to the Arizona Daily Star, in February 2009, the kids took a petition to the Governing Board, to help save the yoga classes that had been taking place at the school. More than 200 students had enrolled in the program, which was being cut due to budget constraints. The news that Tuscon High was cutting down and possibly eliminating the only full-blown yoga program at the school apparently left the yoga-loving students feeling less than centered.

As this story illustrates, yoga holds numerous benefits for teenagers. The teenage years are the most volatile years of most people’s lives. Today’s teenagers struggle with numerous issues, which were largely unknown to their parents’ generation; depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and even teenage suicides are rampant in schools.

The students at Tuscon High collected signatures to save the seven-year old yoga program. They felt that yoga offered more than PE classes, because of the mind-body focus and that yoga had been therapy for relieving stress, bringing greater clarity and calmness, and learning life lessons, such as patience. Holding difficult yoga poses for a long period of time, some teenagers found, evebnhelped them learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Yoga for kids has many benefits, particularly during the teenage years yoga can be therapy for the wild hormonal ride of adolescence.  Some of the benefits of yoga for teenagers include:

Grounding. Many of the yoga postures as well as meditation and breath work help teenagers find a solid footing on the earth, so to speak. Grounding is particularly important for kids in transition, who are grappling with who they are and where they fit in.

Balance. The sense of balance that is instilled both physically and emotionally with kid’s yoga helps teenagers not only find balance in their often-awkward feeling bodies but also in their often stormy emotions.

Anger Management. Anger is probably the number one negative emotion that teenagers experience. Yoga can teach kids to be less reactive and to process their anger in less harmful ways.

Stress Management. Increasing workloads, exams and pressure to get good grades can create a lot of pressure; put together with the general growing pains of adolescence, it’s no wonder that many teens become excessively stressed. In fact, stress related disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and chronic headaches that have usually been the domain of adults are becoming more common among high school kids. IBS today affects 14 percent of high school kids in the United States. Yoga can help create an outlet for stress, so that it doesn’t manifest in the body.

A healthy body. Teenagers are often very self-conscious about their bodies, which are rapidly changing and developing. The strength, toning and flexibility that yoga builds helps many teenagers feel more comfortable with themselves.

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