Yoga has many benefits, one of which is helping teens learn how to regulate their emotions through the use of different poses. I once thought yoga was just a great way to feel relaxed, but after taking a course with Lisa Danylchuk, I learned that specific yoga poses can be used depending on what your nervous system needs. I highly recommend her YouTube videos, if you want to learn more!
*The following information draws heavily from Lisa Danylchuk’s Yoga 4 Trauma Online Training.
If your teen struggles with anxiety, panic attacks, restlessness, rage, or hyperactivity, they can benefit from certain postures. If your teen is depressed, has flat affect, and looks disoriented or disconnected, different yoga postures may help. All of us need to find a balance in our nervous systems and yoga is a great way to find this balance. When we are able to tolerate stress, we are alert, yet calm. We can be still. We know we have choices and can be mindful of decisions that we make. During adolescence, the prefrontal cortex is still developing, which is why many teens may seem to act impulsively without thinking. Yoga is a great way to cultivate mindfulness and expand a teen’s capacity to cope.
There are several poses that help to calm the nervous system. Some of those include: child’s pose, forward bends, and many seated poses, among others.
There are also poses that stimulate the nervous system. These include: twists, plank, cobra, among others.
In order to balance the nervous system, a combination of the above poses works well, in addition to balancing poses like down dog, shoulder stand, and headstands.
Through yoga it is possible to expand a teen’s tolerance of distress. Initially they will likely need some coaching on when and how to do this. It can be very useful for teens to use specific poses when they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or emotionally numb.
As a competitive but not so flexible person, I understand that yoga can be intimidating if you're just starting out. Contrary to popular belief, however, yoga is not strictly for those who are flexible. Over time I have learned that yoga teaches you to treat your body with love and respect. If something hurts, it’s important to listen to your body and not push it too much. You can experience the benefits of yoga without being very flexible and as an added bonus, you get more flexible over time.
Our upcoming summer teen girl intensive will include a group on how to use yoga for self-regulation to help activate and/or soothe emotionally dysregulated teens. The intensive is a collaboration between Roman and Sokolowski Counseling, PLLC and Safe Haven Therapy. The intensive will run June 19-22 or July 17-20 from 9am – 1pm. Lunch is included! Visit the intensives section of my website or call me for more information at (410) 591-6985.