This time of year, it can feel like we are working against our own bodies, pushing ourselves up out of bed when its dark, taking vitamins, supplements, coffee, chocolate or pro-plus to keep going until the mid-winter feast which pushes us even further into activity and consumption. I have had the benefit of slowing down almost to a halt this past few weeks and I watch how the teens are pushing themselves to fill in UCAS forms, preparing for Mocks, getting on buses in the dark and coming home in the dark.
As yoga teachers, we are in such a privileged position, we can nourish and care for these precious souls, offering them solace in this frantic time, teaching them to slow down completely. Their bodies are telling them to sleep (91/2 hours per night between 13-19) yet most of our teens sleep on average 6 hours per night.
Their bodies are telling them to move and release tension through play and outdoor activity, yet they are desk bound and head-centric.
You can be their guide. Show them a slow release class, especially looking at releasing shoulders, neck and lower back through some eagle postures and cat cow. Take a slow sun salutation, relishing the release in every pose, maybe ask them to take the class with their eyes closed. Turn the lights off and bring some fairy lights or candles. Direct the focus inwards. Many of them have emotional turmoil, with complicated friendship issues, so a gentle heart opening or thoracic release would support increased harmony.
Make sure to end the class with a lovely deep and long relaxation (half the time spent on relaxation this time of year is not unusual) – give them eye bags and heavy blankets if you can, to support their feeling of safety and calm.
There is some very compelling research which is cited by Dan Siegel on our Teen Yoga course, which proves that your own practise has a profound effect on your students, whether you share it or not. That is to say, even your quiet presence will support their inner peace, This would indicate that if you do not practise (in this case deep relaxation, nourishment, listening) then your class will be less compelling and effective.
So – give yourself some time out, take an hour or two and practise a deep yoga nidra, feed your soul!
My challenge to you is to nourish yourself once a day for half an hour – how would you do that? – if you listened to the quiet voice inside you right now, what is it longing for? Take time out, be the change, model the behaviour you wish to see in the world – a deep, safe, nourishing peaceful presence!
Let me know how it goes!