Teaching yoga to teens can be a daunting task. They want to access all the benefits they've heard about yoga, or try it out since their favourite celebrity is doing it. However, teens do not put up with any garbage and will call on it if they think you are faking or unsure of yourself. Here is a checklist that I go through when preparing my teen yoga classes. Follow it and you're sure to have fantastic classes full of finding inner strength, having fun, and discovering the wonderful world of yoga.
1) Know your Audience
In order to teach teens you have to know teens. Tap into their world. Find out what's 'hot,' and what's 'so last year.' You'll also need to know what level of yoga your students are expecting. These days many teens have done yoga with their sports teams or as an extra-curricular activity. However, there are still a lot of first timers out there. You may have to cater your classes to both groups so be sure to provide quality instruction.
2) Plan your Time
Know your time frame and plan accordingly. Classes may be 50, 60 or 80 minutes in length. Be sure to factor in an introduction and talk time. These are teens after all and they love to talk. Yoga class is also a wonderful place to discuss coping strategies for real life problems so be flexible and allow them to share. Also, like any good yoga class you'll need a warm-up, workout, and cooling portions within your class plan. Of course, sufficient time for Corpse Pose, savasana, is essential before you send them away with Namaste.
3) Organize the Flow
This part will depend on the goals of the class. Is it a flow class, Ashtanga, Hot Yoga, or intro to Hatha Yoga? Maybe you'll offer a yoga sampler class for teens to try out a variety of styles. Whatever the goal, be sure to organize the poses following standard yoga instruction guidelines. Leaving a little extra time for adjustments and verbal instruction is always a good idea to make sure all the students are performing the poses and breathing exercises properly and safely.
4) Create a Playlist
Teens love music! Give them what they love. Download the top hits and create a rockin' playlist. Remember this is NOT their mother's yoga class. This is a TEEN class. Relaxing meditative tracks are great for during relaxation, but otherwise crank the Rock & Rock, R&B, Alternative, Top40, etc. and get your groove on. If you have no idea what your students are listening to ask them to offer suggestions. They may even put together the playlist for you – in half the time.
5) Prepare your Space
All good yoga instructors will arrive early for class. This is no different. Classes may be held in community centres, churches, school athletic rooms, libraries, and so on. Some of these spaces will need extra preparation time. Be sure to check over the space you are using for your class and prepare it adequately for your students. Their yoga experience should not be hampered by their environment.
6) Rock their Yoga World
Showtime! Put it all together and have a great time teaching teens about the joy of yoga. The benefits will some be apparent to them. They will have greater self-confidence, more flexibility, and learn coping skills to take with them off the mat. Remember be yourself. Be genuine. Your class may be exactly what they need to build a lifelong yoga practice.
That's it. If you follow the “Checklist for Teaching Teens Yoga,” you're sure to find success. Your classes will be hip, fun, and provide an opportunity for teens to discover their inner yogi.
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