Our first Instill conference took place in London in 2015, with 70 attendees. The conference was a foray into whether there was interest in the topic of Young People, Yoga, Research and Education. The conference was then called Instill.
This year the conference was opened by Sir Michael Dixon, Chair of College of Medicine, who reiterated his hope that the Ambassador course would become free to the end user, funded by councils and ICSs across the country. He also recognised the enormous strain many teachers are under at this time and hoped that yoga would support them through, as he recognised the impact yoga can have on general health. We are very grateful for this continued support from the College of Medicine.
This year saw our 7th iteration, with the happy return of one of our first keynote speakers, Dr Sat Bir Khalsa from Harvard. Sat Bir has been a clear and consistent voice for research on yoga for young people. He has reviewed and designed several research trials in the USA and continues to develop research in this field. His talk focussed on the rationale for yoga in schools, looking at present research. His conclusions were concise and clear, bringing yoga to young people would reverse and prevent many lifestyle diseases that we are seeing today. His main concluding slide was how yoga supports the wellbeing in all areas of life, a slide we created into an infographic.
Dr Shirley Telles, the Director of the only Yoga Research Institute in the world, in Haridwar, India Her presentation focussed on the evidence base for yoga practises post-covid. She brought to light some fascinating evidence on how pranayama can help with the obesity epidemic as well as general anxiety disorders particularly. The evidence was eye-wateringly powerful.
Simon Haas, our lovely patron and author of The Book of Dharma and Dark Night of the Soul, managed to take us on a meaningful journey through the Bhagavad Gita, referring to how yoga can be a true pathway in times of crisis and how this can be applied to young people in transitionary periods such as this.
Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Professor of Neuroscience at Cambridge, made a more general case for the Teen brain and its development, which many yogis found fascinating in how closely it relates to how yoga impacts on the brain.
The workshops ranged from Judy Sampath’s beautiful exploration of what it means to listen to our body and how that might be introduced to teens. More hands on workshops included Natalie Freemans talk on sexuality and gender, exploring how yoga can support our relationship with sex as a teenager. Lisa Harwood and Olivia and Claire Saunders did two separate talks and workshops on teaching SEN and neurodivergent teens yoga, a topic which many of you were interested in pursuing and we hope to be able to offer a CPD in this in 2022. Nicola Burroughs, graduate of the Universal Yoga 200 hour course and Sarah Ramsden’s Yoga for Athletes course, ran a yoga for adolescent athletes course, looking at how we can support young people in a healthy way to avoid injury and maximise performance through yoga.
We were very happy to offer a few different talks on marketing yoga, with both Jess and Lorna contributing significantly to the conversation as many yogis are not particularly good at putting themselves in the limelight, these sessions felt very important indeed and both Lorna and Jess have been central to the success of marketing for the Foundation over the years.
Some very tricky subjects were tackled by Pippa, Anessa and Zakiya who opened up conversation around eating disorders, suicide ideation and racial trauma and how yoga relates to these topics. Many of us might feel particularly uncomfortable when faced with any of these issues and these experts really helped us find our way, giving us tools to understand our biases and also our strengths in how to support young people in the best way.
Another important theme centred around the practise of yoga in schools. We got to speak to Steve Parry, who has been running a whole school approach in Birkenhead School for the past 3 years since he took the TeenYoga course and also Anna Bing who took the course last year and how it has worked out for her and rolling out the whole school approach in her school in West London. Tanya and Claire also shared a webinar discussing the current climate in general in schools in the UK and where funding is coming from as well as what the attitude in schools is at the moment towards yoga. The conclusion is that there is a very positive move at the moment towards yoga as a solution to the many issues that schools are facing in the face of the pandemic.
After the 2020 summit, three specific working groups were set up: working in the PRU (pupil referral unit), working in SEN and delivering Retreats for teenagers. These three groups presented discussions on the topics, Lisa heading up the SEN working group, Florendia the retreat group and Sarah the PRU group. More concretely, the foundation will be running its own expert Teen Retreat Easter 2021 thanks to Florendia and her team and hope many of you will be sending your students on this lovely adventure in the New Forest.
The highlight of our year is hearing from our teen panel and this year we asked our newly graduated Ambassadors to give us a yoga class and talk about the ambassador course and yoga in general. I think what is most exciting about this is hearing their journey from some kind of severe and damning mental health issue to wellbeing lead in their school. Such a transformation from just a simple daily practise – we are all very lucky to have discovered yoga and have it as a pillar for our support going forward and what a delight to help young people flourish and thrive in this way!
A big thank you too to Suzy Segura who brought the yin moment before closing the summit this year.
We would love to hear your feedback and which topics you would like to learn more about so we could make them into CPDs and workshops in 2022. Also, should we change the format of the summit, could it be done in a better way?
Be aware that if you missed the summit this year, you can still catch up by donating an amount to the charity and emailing firstname.lastname@example.org who will send you the links.
And this year’s raffle is undersubscribed so if you buy a ticket, you are in with a very good chance of receiving one of our prizes. All the 121 sessions are online so are open to those of you not living in the UK too. Please do continue to support the foundation, as you all know, we are self funded and the raffle last year allowed us to offer bursary places to 5 Teen Yoga Ambassadors in 2021.
This year’s conference has raised £5870 so far and we are so grateful for this important sum of money which will go towards funding bursary places on the Ambassador courses through 2022.
Here is the link for your raffle ticket and chance to win a yogi prize: https://teenyoga.com/course/christmas-raffle-teen-yoga-summit/.
Have a lovely, peaceful Christmas break.