Yoga, Teens & Bravery

Last week, I asked Jim (17) what the bravest thing he’d ever done was and he said, “tell someone I was sad”. Nick (19) said something very similar, “to let someone know I wasn’t coping”. Boys are traditionally seen as brave, whereas girls were always considered needing protection. This gender stereotype has all but disappeared for the young generation, where mental health issues are rife and where there is little or no support. This has meant that many young people are supporting each other in various ways. They are learning to become less judgmental and better listeners. They are also becoming well versed in different issues and how to help.

Many young people are turning to yoga to help them with their mental health. This week (Childrens Mental Health Week), we see 50,000 subscribing to our daily videos on yoga and mental health in their school. These videos help students understand their emotions (in the case of primary schools as well as secondary) and form strategies for dealing effectively with them, for themselves and others. To find out more about this for your school, head over to our social media accounts.

Bravery has moved from saving the damsel in distress, to being able to cry, let go and ask for support. With too many young men committing suicide in our vicinity, we need to re-educate our boys about emotional bravery and help them form a new idea about what coping mechanisms they can use, apart from drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships or addiction to work or porn, the norm for many men in the past. I see a bright future for yoga in schools for young men to help them become more emotionally intelligent and literate. Let’s support this development where we can.

We are actively looking for funding to provide free, tailored classes of this kind in schools that have had their budgets cut by 30% in the past few years. If you would like to help, please go to our website, teenyogafoundation.com and donate there or pop us an email at info@teenyogafoundation.com.

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Results from EU Hippocampus Project Unveiled at Instill

Nick and Charlotta recently reported the encouraging results from the 2 year study involving schools in 5 different countries at this year’s Instill. These can be accessed here in PowerPoint format for you to use in your approaches to schools and institutions. In time we will also have an infographic for you to use as well.TYF Instill Hippocampus presentation Nov 19 (1)  It’s an inspiring project and well worth a read.

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Teen Yoga Ambassadors

As climate strikes pepper the land, it strikes me how one little person from Sweden has inspired millions to speak up about what they are passionate about – Mother Earth.

I had the privilege of spending Monday evening with 8 hand-picked young yogis in London. They had all been through a selection process and were chosen for their passion and experience in yoga.

Inspired by Greta Thunberg and the influence she has had in the world, young people are gathering together to offer their solution to the worlds’ problems. These young people have all practised yoga for many years already. Two of them were on the autistic spectrum. They came to be trained to share yoga with their peers in the new programme run by the Teen Yoga Foundation.

Again and again we hear the cry from the young – we are experiencing a mental health crisis,  but what can we do about it?

These brave young souls will be marching forth into the arena of mental health, equipped with specific training to help others, multiplying the wellbeing effect in their school and other contexts.

In yoga we learn how to lift ourselves up, by controlling our minds, by lifting and opening our hearts, we learn how to be well on every level. Part of being well is recognising our interdependence with the planet and each other. Once we recognise this, we can only support others.

There is no separation between us – this profound truth is experienced in meditation, one young person at a time, finding their feet, finding their way, finding their wellness, lifting themselves and others up into light and hope.

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Charlotta contributing to Virtual Yoga Summit 9th-10th October

 
  • What does inclusivity mean within yoga?
  • How does language influence your teaching and therapy practice?
  • How do you approach students and clients dealing with chronic conditions?
  • How can prisoners benefit from yoga?
Charlotta has been invited to contribute to Singing Dragon’s first-ever Virtual Yoga Summit, exploring the theme of Inclusive Yoga across a host of virtual channels throughout two content-packed, educational and interactive days. From social media Q&As and webinars, through articles and podcasts we will be exploring a wide range of topics around inclusivity, and inviting you to participate in the discussion. Highlights include:
  • An article on hosting an LGBTQ+ friendly class from Lana Skrypnyk
  • A live Q&A on body positivity and fighting against the biases in yoga with Donna Noble
  • A webinar from Heather Mason on social prescribing in the UK
  • A live class with Sian O’Neill, which you can follow from wherever you are through our live stream!
  Join us on the 9th and 10th October 2019 by registering for the event. The Virtual Yoga Summit is brought to you in association with our amazing partners: the Minded Institute, the British Council for Yoga Therapy, Yoga Campus, the Life Centre, the Prison Phoenix Trust and Network Yoga Therapy, all of whom are fighting the good fight for more inclusivity and accessibility in yoga.  

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New Mentoring Service Launched

We’ve listened to your needs and are happy to announce our new mentoring service for graduates of the Teen Yoga training. Four highly experienced Teen Yoga teachers are available to you via Skype or Zoom to discuss any issues you may have setting up classes or questions specific to teaching. Suggested donation of £40 per hour for this service, £5 of which goes to the foundation.
Mentor bios below in order to help you choose the best mentor for you:

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World Peace Day 21st September 2019

Support the work of the Teen Yoga Foundation on World Peace Day, 21st September 2019. Here’s how:  
  • Talk to a school about a taster day for World Peace day
  • Mention the evidence that yoga increases social cohesion within a school and in a community.
  • Send out a press release to your local press and let your local MP know.
win – MP looks good and he/she gets involved in our cause in parliament   win – press get a story   win – we raise money   win – you get into a school   win – your work gets noted in the local press, ie best advertising!   Let us know how you get on. Good luck!

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10 Things your teen wants you to know, kinda.

Teen Yoga graduate Niki Moss Simpson recently launched her first book as co-author of the best selling Pay It Forward series: Notes to My Younger Self. Here, in an excerpt from her blog, Niki talks about teens and their needs.

No One ever said parenting was going to be easy, right? And the teenage years are definitely not easy years to parent. A glass of wine, selective hearing & friends as equally confused as you, make it all a little bearable.

But can you remember what it was like to be a teenager yourself? Can you remember how you felt misunderstood, awkward, swinging from one mood to another in the blink of a rolling eye or a loudly voiced disapproving tut?

Well, yes, it’s a different decade & yes, lots has changed & yes, of course you had things much worse but certain things remain the same physiologically including brain, physical & emotional development & these are very much running the messy show in your teens life.

So, grab that glass of wine, settle down in a comfortable chair cos here is what your teen son or daughter wants you to know (kinda)…

To read more of Niki’s blog read here.

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APPG on Yoga – Exchange at the House of Lords

We wanted to share with you an exchange that happened at the House of Lords recently. We hope you enjoy this.
 
“Question 11.22 am
 
Asked by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe
 
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will draw up a strategy and campaign for the expansion, particularly in the National Health Service, of access to yoga and its associated health benefits.
 
The Earl of Courtown (Con)
 
My Lords, there is evidence that yoga helps to build strength in healthy adults and can improve health conditions such as high blood pressure. The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days a week, and yoga is one of many activities recommended in their report, Start Active, Stay Active.
 
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab)
 
I am very grateful indeed to the noble Earl for such a positive response. I am sure that he will agree with the Secretary of State’s statement last autumn that, if the NHS is to survive, we need more social prescribing by GPs, which will help with the financial position. Given what the noble Earl just said, I am sure he will agree that yoga helps people with mental health problems and back pains, those tackling addictions, and people with obesity—a whole range of subjects. Is he willing to meet a group of representatives to discuss how we might take this forward, particularly in the context of the 10-year programme being drawn up to try to offer people greater movements towards better health while saving the NHS money? I declare an interest as the co-secretary of the All-Party Group on Yoga.
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right about the importance of social prescribing—it can be felt right across the population, particularly in relation to mental health. I agree with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State about social prescribing; that is one of his top priorities. The noble Lord asked whether a meeting could be arranged with me, him and other interested parties. I will pass that request on to the Minister responsible so that they can have a useful conversation.
 
Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate (Con)
 
My Lords, it is acknowledged that yoga is very beneficial for mental health: it provides mindfulness, an ability to make better judgments, to relax, and to take decisions in a sensible and responsible way. In light of that, does my noble friend agree that yoga should now be made obligatory for Members of the House of Commons?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
My Lords, my noble friend makes a very important point about the importance of yoga and the great benefits that it gives to everybody. I have unrolled my yoga mat in my office and am waiting for a lesson from my noble friend Lady Barran, who is a teacher of yoga.
 
Baroness Walmsley (LD)
 
My Lords, there appear to be particular benefits of yoga for older people in improving balance and muscle tone, NICE estimates that falls cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion a year, and we know that older people often become lonely, ​so the mental health and social benefits of going to classes also apply. Given those facts, will the Government encourage yoga for older people?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
Yes, the noble Baroness is quite right. The only proviso as far as that is concerned is that more frail elder people should take great care—the noble Baroness makes a hand movement which I think describes her exercise.
 
Anyway, deep breath! The noble Baroness is quite right about the importance of social prescribing and yoga being of great advantage to the population.
 
Baroness Meacher (CB)
 
My Lords, is the Minister aware that East London NHS mental health trust has for seven years been running and evaluating sports programmes—including yoga, but also many other activities—for people with severe mental health problems? I shall give an example: 100% of those involved in its boxing programme for forensic patients—those with severe mental health problems and a criminal history—have achieved a significant improvement in their mental health and well-being. Will he make NHS England aware of the work in East London and issue guidance to mental health trusts across the country that they should all run a range of sports programmes for people with severe mental health problems?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
The noble Baroness is quite right: the importance of those various forms of activity is well felt. I do not know the event that she described, but I know that Haringey CCG has created a better care fund to improve health and social care services for older people, particularly those with long-term health conditions. Strength and balance is one of the programmes funded by that partnership; that goes back to the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. I will of course make that point to the department, but more and more areas are getting involved in social prescribing, which is promoted by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and is without doubt doing a great job.
 
Lord Stone of Blackheath (Lab)
 
My Lords, I have just discovered that you can do downward dog on these Benches: I invite noble Lords to join me. With the evidence showing that yoga and mindfulness can be good for preventing and curing illnesses, both physical and mental, what progress has been made with the establishment of a national academy for social prescribing? Will representatives of yoga and mindfulness practice be on it?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
Yes, my Lords, engagement with stakeholders on the national academy for social prescribing has already begun and they are being consulted. The academy is under development. I have asked the department and NHS England whether representatives of yoga and mindfulness will be engaged in its development.
 
Baroness Thornton (Lab)
 
My Lords, I can bear witness to the efficacy of workplace yoga, as I attended many of the lunchtime sessions organised by my noble friend for seated yoga before the Christmas break. I ​enjoyed them very much and commend them to all Members of the House. Noble Lords will be very relieved to know that MPs, Peers and other staff were not required to don their Lycra during lunchtime. Is the Minister aware of the amount of workplace yoga being encouraged for NHS staff for not only their mental but their physical well-being, for those who have to lift heavy weights and so on? That programme should be rolled out across the whole NHS.
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
The noble Baroness makes a good point. What she did not mention is how good yoga is for stress, and how to reduce one’s stress levels with movement, breathing and meditation. I know that yoga classes are available in various workplaces, but I was not aware of the NHS programme. I will, of course, bring it to the attention of the department.”

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Royal Seal of Approval

His Royal Highness Prince Charles said yesterday, “By its very nature, yoga builds discipline, self-reliance and supports self-care – all of which contribute to improved health. Indeed practised within a group, it has tremendous social benefits as well”. These words were spoken at the first national conference on yoga in healthcare that occurred last weekend in London where I was speaking about yoga for young people. His words bring support to those who have practised yoga for a long time and might open the door to this majestic practise to those who are looking to prolong and increase their quality of life. There is a movement for yoga to be included in school curricula and also for it to be prescribed by doctors in GP surgeries to help with various specific conditions. This may well change our perspective on healthcare from relying on outside help and support to taking control and power over our own health.

When we come into a space to move together, ground ourselves, feel into our aches and pains and work out how to relieve them by ourselves, controlling the breath and the emotions, to end in deep relaxation together, we can become masters of our destiny.

Yoga teaches us to accept ourselves as we are, embracing us into a peaceful community. When we accept ourselves unconditionally, we will accept others without judgment or criticism. This leads to a pleasant life and an effortless sharing of peace.

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