Yoga for teenagers is as beneficial as it is for adults. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), yoga is a safe and potentially effective therapy that can help children and teens cope with physical and mental conditions and help improve emotional and behavioral well-being (1). Born thousands of years ago in India, yoga is a practice that means “to yoke” or “to join” the individual consciousness with universal consciousness, bringing ultimate harmony between the mind, body, and spirit (2) Yoga typically involves working on three aspects – the physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana). There are several different yoga types that one can practice. However, the most popular ones are Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hatha yoga, and Vinyasa yoga (3). Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of yoga for teenagers, different yoga poses teenagers can try, and the safety measures to follow while doing yoga.
Safety Measures To Take While Doing Yoga
Yoga is generally considered a safe practice. It can be done by healthy individuals under the supervision of a trained and qualified instructor. Like any other physical activity, injuries can occur in yoga, too.
Sprains and strains are more common with yoga than severe injuries, which are rare. The following precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of injury.
- Learn and practice yoga under the guidance of a qualified teacher as they will do a systematic review of your postures.
- Wear clothes you can move in easily and always use a mat with good support and grip.
- Do not do yoga immediately after a meal. Maintain a gap of two to three hours between meals and yoga practice. Listen to your body while practicing yoga.
- If you have any previous injuries, medical issues, illness, or other health problems, advise the teacher at the beginning of class. It will help them ascertain the yoga asanas you should avoid.
- Do not push your limits of tolerance or ever push your body to the point of experiencing pain. Over time, flexibility generally improves, and you can practice the asanas with greater ease.
- If you are new to yoga, avoid extreme postures like headstands, shoulder stands, the lotus position, and forced breathing as you could cause injury. Start with simple, easily accessible yoga asanas and breathing techniques.
- Be aware that “hot yoga” has special risks related to overheating and dehydration.
Yoga Poses For Teenagers
Yoga poses can be done while standing, sitting, sleeping, and supine or resting. The following are the common and useful yoga poses for teenagers.
a. Standing yoga poses for teenagers.
1. Mountain pose (Tadasana)
Tadasana is the foundation of all standing poses. It is a great starting pose, resting pose, or a tool to get a better posture.
- Stand with your toes touching the ground and heels slightly apart from each other on a yoga mat over a firm surface.
- Lift and spread your toes and lay them softly down on the floor. Adjust your feet and body slowly so that the sole of the feet covers the maximum ground. Rock back and forth, and gradually come to a standstill in a balanced and good posture.
- Inhale and lift your arms straight above the head. Press the shoulder blades into the back and then widen them before releasing. Lift the top of your sternum upwards without pushing the ribs to the front.
- Firm your thigh muscles and lift the knee cap, without putting pressure on the lower belly or hardening it. Lift your inner ankles to strengthen the inner arches and imagine a line of energy along the inner thighs, groin, upper torso, neck, head, and through the crown of the head.
- Turn your thighs slightly inward, lengthen the tailbone downwards, and lift the pubic bone upwards.
- Keep your under-chin parallel to the floor, throat soft, and tongue wide and flat on the floor of your mouth. Keep your eyes relaxed.
- Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute and practice inhalation and exhalation gently. If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
2. Chair pose (Utkatasana)
Utkatasana helps the muscles of the arms, legs, and also the heart and the diaphragm.
- Stand in tadasana. Take a deep breath in and extend your arms towards the ceiling while keeping them perpendicular to the floor.
- Keep your hands parallel to each other with palms facing inwards or join the palms.
- Breathe out and bend your knees so that the upper torso forms a right angle with the knees while the thighs should be parallel to the ground. Keep your arms extended.
- Keep your shoulders broad, and try to pull your tailbone towards the ground to achieve a good stretch of the lower back.
- You can be in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute before coming back to normal posture. If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
- Take a deep breath again, straighten your knees, and exhale while bringing your arms back to their normal position.
3. Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)
This yoga pose helps in stretching and strengthening the hamstring muscles.
- Stand in tadasana with the hands on the hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hips and not the waist. Lengthen the upper torso as much as you can while bending by drawing it out of the groin in a way that the space between the pubis and top sternum is opened up.
- Bring your palms or fingertips to the floor next to your feet or slightly in the front of the feet, if possible, while keeping your knees straight. If you can’t reach the floor, then cross the forearms and hold your elbows.
- Press the heels firmly into the floor, lift the hip bones upwards, and turn the upper thighs slightly inwards.
- Stretch and extend the torso with each inhalation. Release a little more fully into the forward bend with each exhalation.
- Let your head hang easily between the shoulder blades.
- Stay in the posture for 30 seconds to a minute.
- For coming out of the pose, put your arms back on your hips, and gently come up with an inhalation while keeping the torso straight.
4. Eagle pose (Garudasana)
Garudasana strengthens and stretches the ankles, thighs, hips, shoulders, and the upper back.
- Stand in a tadasana. Lift the right foot. Balance your body on the left foot.
- Move your right thigh across the left thigh in a way that the right foot gets support from the lower calves of the left foot.
- The toes of the right foot should be pointed towards the floor.
Extend your arms straight out, keeping upper arms parallel to the floor while bending the lower arms to point them upwards. Keep the lower arm parallel to each other.
- Extend your scapulae across the upper torso. Intertwine your hands in a way that the left hand is above the right hand.
- Engage the elbow of the left hand in the right elbow. Keep the forearms perpendicular to the floor.
- The back of the palms should be facing each other.
- Now shift your palms facing each other. The hands should be moved until the thumb of your left hand comes in front of the right hand’s little finger. Raise your hands upwards in the same posture.
- Stay in the pose for 15 to 30 seconds. Gradually, unwind and return to tadasana and repeat the pose using the left arms and legs. If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
5. Extended hand-to-big-toe pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana)
There are various benefits of Utthita Hasta Padangustasana as it strengthens the legs and the ankles, stretches the back of the legs, and improves balance.
- Stand in tadasana. From tadasana, lift and bring your left knee towards your belly.
- Reach your left arm from inside and hold the toes. If your thigh muscles are tight and this seems difficult, hold a strap looped around the left sole.
- Firm the right thigh and press it inward.
- Inhale and extend the left leg forward as much as you can while keeping the knee straight. If you are ready, swing the left leg outward.
- Keep breathing as it improves the focus.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Bring the leg back to the center with an inhale and lower the foot to the floor with an exhale. If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
- Repeat with the right leg.
- Maintain the balance to avoid falling and injuries.
b. Sitting yoga poses for teenagers
6. Lotus position (Padmasana)
Padmasana pose improves digestion, reduces muscle tension, helps bring blood pressure under control, relaxes the mind, and reduces menstrual discomfort.
- Sit on a yoga mat with legs stretched out in front while keeping your spine erect.
- Bend the right knee and place your right foot on the left thigh. Make sure that the soles of your feet point upwards, and the heel stays close to the abdomen.
- Repeat the same with the other leg.
- Place your hands on knees in mudra position. With an erect spine, closed eyes, and a straight head, inhale and exhale in the same position for a few minutes. If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
7. Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
Pachimottanasana stretches the lower back, hamstrings, and hips. It also tones the abdominal organs, pelvic organs, and the shoulders.
- Sit up with legs stretched out straight in front of you, keep the spine erect, and keep the toes flexed towards you.
- Breathe in and raise both of your arms above your head.
- Breathe out and bend forward from your hips while moving the chin towards the toes. Keep your spine erect and move towards the toes instead of moving towards the knees.
- Try to hold your toes with your hands, and if that is not possible, place your hands wherever they can reach comfortably.
- Keep your head down for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat this yoga sequence two to three times. If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
- Come into sitting position while inhaling and exhale, come to rest.
8. Butterfly pose (Badhakonasana)
Badhakonasana stretches inner thighs and knees, while improving hip and groin flexibility. It helps in intestine and bowel movement, and ease fatigue from long hours of walking or traveling. You can also get relief from menstrual cramps and discomfort.
- Sit on a yoga mat with your spine straight and legs spread straight out.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet towards yourself in a way that the heels of both the feet should touch each other.
- Grab your feet tightly by putting your hands under your feet.
- Try and keep the feet as close to the groin as possible.
- Take a deep breath in and press your thighs and knees down to the floor while breathing out.
- Slowly start flapping both your legs like the wings of a butterfly and increase the speed gradually.
- Flap for 15-20 times and then reduce the speed and gently stop. Take a deep breath in and while exhaling, gently bend down with the spine erect and chin up.
- Try to press the knees and the thighs closer to the floor by pressing the elbows onto them. Take a deep breath and bring the torso up. Gently straighten the legs in front of you.
9. Mill churning pose (Chakki Chalanasana)
Chakki Chalanasana tones the back, abdomen muscles, arm muscles, and opens up the chest and the groin. It helps in the reduction of abdominal fat and preventing sciatica. It also tones uterine muscles and helps in preventing painful menstrual cycles.
- Sit on the floor with your legs spread wide apart. Clasp your hands and outstretch your arms at shoulder height in front of you.
- Take a deep breath and start moving your body from the front and right as if you are forming an imaginary circle with your upper body.
- Inhale as you go forward and right and exhale as you go backward and left.
- Make 5-10 rounds in one direction and then repeat them in the other direction.
C. Resting yoga poses for teens
10. Child pose (Balasana)
Balasana relaxes the back muscles, relieves constipation, and calms the nervous system.
- Fold your legs and sit on your heels with your hips resting on the heels. Bend forward and lower your forehead to the floor.
- Keep your arms alongside your body with your hands on the floor and palms facing up. If you do not feel comfortable, make fists with both your hands, place them on each other, and rest your head on the fist.
- Gently press your chest on the thighs and hold. Stretch your upper torso.
- Gently come up on your heels and relax.
- If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
11. Boat pose (Naukasana)
Naukasana strengthens and tones the back, arms, abdomen, and leg muscles.
- Lie on your back with your feet together and arms beside you.
- Take a deep breath in and lift your chest and feet off the ground as you exhale. Simultaneously, raise and stretch the arms towards toward the feet.
- Notice the tension in your navel area as the abdominal muscles contract and become engaged.
- Continue breathing in and out. Keep your gaze, fingers, and toes in a parallel line.
- As you exhale, come back slowly to the ground and relax.
- If, at any time, you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
12. Wind-relieving pose (Pavanamuktasana)
Pavanamuktasana strengthens and tones back, abdomen, arms, leg muscles, and eases tension in the lower back. It also massages abdominal organs, improves blood circulation, aids in better digestion, and helps in the release of gas.
- Lie on your back with feet together and arms beside the body.
- Breathe in, and as you exhale, bring your right knee towards your chest and press the thigh on your abdomen with clasped hands.
- Breathe in again, and as you exhale, lift your head and chest off the floor and touch your chin to your right knee.
- Hold for a few seconds while continuing inhalation and exhalation.
- Tighten the grip of hands as you exhale and loosen the grip when you inhale.
- Repeat this pose with the other leg and then with both legs together.
- Rock up and down or roll from side to side a few times and then get up.
- If, at any time, you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
13. Corpse pose (Savasana)
Savasana brings a deep, meditative state of rest by releasing stress. It helps repair tissues, reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia. It is a perfect way to end a yoga session.
- Lie flat on your back. Use a small pillow behind your back if required. Close your eyes.
- Keep your legs comfortably apart, relaxed, and toes pointing towards outside.
- Leave your arms relaxed alongside your body and keep your palms facing upwards.
- Bring attention to every part of your body, and try to relax your body.
- Keep breathing slowly and gently.
- Make sure you do not fall asleep.
- Stay in the same pose for 10-20 minutes and then gently roll onto your right, while still keeping your eyes closed. Lie there for a minute or two. You can begin with just a minute or two and work up to a longer time.
- Take the support of your right hand and come to the sitting position.
- Open your eyes when you feel relaxed and de-stressed.
- If you experience distress or pain, come out of the posture.
Benefits Of Yoga For Teenagers
Yoga has multiple proven benefits. It is beneficial for emotional, physical, and mental well-being across all age groups. The following are a few general benefits of yoga that may be achieved for all age groups.
- Improves strength
- Increases stamina
- Improves balance
- Increases flexibility
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Improves mental clarity
- Helps in achieving better sleep
- Relieves lower back and neck pain
- Helps in the regulation of menstruation
- Helps in weight loss
1. Improves fitness and physical health
Students participating in yoga often develop more flexible bodies. It may help in improving coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility (5).
2. Reduces stress and anxiety
High school can be a stressful period for teenagers with both academic and personal challenges. Yoga may help calm the nervous system and thus regulate the teen’s response to stress.
3. Avoiding excess weight gain
Overeating, excess consumption of junk food, and stress can lead to weight gain in teenagers. Yoga may help in losing excess weight. Research conducted in 2013 looked at 17 yoga-based weight control programs and found that most of them led to gradual, moderate, and healthy weight reduction (3).
4. Improves focus and performance
5. Improves self-esteem and body image
Adolescence is a time when children might experience low self-confidence, body image issues, and low self-esteem. Yoga is rooted in the principle of non-judgment. Regular yoga practice may make a teen more self-accepting by letting them connect with their inner self.
6. Encourages creativity
Yoga may help in reducing impatience and impulsivity by improving the ability to be attentive to what is arising and responding effectively. It may help teenagers gain composure and become more disciplined.
7. Develops discipline and self-regulation
Yoga helps in reducing impatience and impulsivity by improving the ability to be attentive. It may help teenagers gain composure and be disciplined.
With teenage being the formative and one of the most important phases of life in terms of both mind and body, yoga for teenagers can provide an ideal management technique for all those changes. In addition, yoga has been in practice for the longest time thanks to its various health benefits, such as maintaining a healthy weight, improving focus, and discipline. So making yoga a part of your teenager’s daily routine and practicing these poses can help attain a calm and relaxed mind along with a healthy body and improved self-confidence.
2. Yoga; KidsHealth from Nemours
3. Yoga: What You Need To Know; National Center For Complementary And Integrative Health
4. Permission to Unplug: The Health Benefits of Yoga for Kids, American Academy Of Pediatrics
5. Arndt Bussing et al., Effects of Yoga on Mental and Physical Health: A Short Summary of Reviews; U.S. National Library of Medicine
6. Lisa C. Kaley-Isley et al., Yoga as a Complementary Therapy for Children and Adolescents; Europe PMC