A yoga teacher goes through an asana practice during her yoga teacher training.
Beyond Asana: How to Choose a Yoga Teacher-Training Program
January 18, 2024
beYogi's Top Policy Perks Other Companies Charge Extra For
beYogi’s Top Policy Perks Other Companies Charge Extra For
January 31, 2024

How To Effectively Teach Teen Yoga

KEY TAKEAWAYS:  In this article, yoga instructors will explore the impressive benefits of teen yoga, discover must-include teen yoga poses, and hear easy-to-implement ideas about how to get teens more involved in the yoga world. 

While any age is a good time to adopt a regular yoga practice, teens may reap unique benefits from this workout. With thousands of years vouching for its effectiveness, it’s a habit that can help them maintain good health throughout their adult lives. 

What can yoga guides do to foster a love of yoga among this age group? Here’s how to effectively teach teen yoga — and why it matters.

What you need to know as an instructor to teach teens yoga

The benefits of yoga for teens

Everyone’s teenage years are tumultuous. Hormonal shifts result in unpredictable emotions at a time when external stress increases.

Teens might be entering higher education or the workforce, determining their adult destinies while wading through a minefield of rapidly changing relationships and pressures.

Making one high-pressure choice after another necessitates mindfulness, receptiveness and calm. Yoga can help teens navigate this difficult life stage in several ways.

Developing consciousness through mindfulness

Mindfulness may offer the ideal way to get through to troubled teens. Why? The human brain comes wired with a negativity bias that makes it reactive to respond quickly to threats.

Yoga creates time for mindfulness while simultaneously relaxing your body and facilitating clarity. As a result, truths arise as wisdom from within, letting troubled teens explore the logic behind advice they receive, such as choosing friends with care and avoiding substance use. It breaks down defensiveness because recognition comes as deep understanding, not a lecture.

Improving mental health

Multiple studies have indicated that yoga improves mental health, helping practitioners ease stress and cultivate a sense of calm that carries over into the rest of their lives.

Rates of anxiety and depression have risen in adolescents, especially since the pandemic.

Teens today have legitimate reasons for stress, from choosing a career to climate change, and providing them with a tool proven to tame tension is a necessary intervention in a high-pressure world.

Making peace with a changing body

Teens become acutely aware of their bodies during this age — right when they’re going through awkward growth spurts.

Sadly, many develop eating disorders or other self-image issues.

Yoga’s emphasis on body acceptance and self-love can combat the negative messages from social media and unkind peers.

Develop a healthy coping mechanism for life

Although the teenage years are stressful, adulthood doesn’t necessarily get easier. Setbacks and challenges occur across a lifetime.

Yoga is a must-have coping mechanism and mindfulness skill that lets people of any age manage overwhelming emotions and make the best decisions they can, regardless of their circumstances.

6 basic yoga poses all teens should know

While there are hundreds of yoga poses with nearly infinite variations, guides should focus on teaching teens the basics.

This foundation enables them to walk into any class and feel comfortable enough to participate.

1. Forward Fold

It sounds simple to bend over in an attempt to touch your toes.

However, the teen years are the perfect time to learn how to protect your lumbar spine.

Guides should emphasize using blocks for extra support and gently opening the hamstrings by shifting body weight to prevent lower back strain.

2. Cobra

Cobra is best for beginners as it keeps your hips and knees on the floor, decreasing the pressure on your lower back.

Begin lying on your belly and push your torso upwards as you open your heart.

Draw your shoulders back, keeping your elbows soft and stopping at the first sign of discomfort — this pose should always feel good.

3. Downward Dog

This foundational move stretches your entire posterior chain, from shoulders to calves.

It’s easiest to begin from all fours with your hands slightly forward, tucking your toes and pushing your body into an inverted “V” shape.

Visualize a pulley around your hips, lifting them toward the sky as your heels reach toward the floor — it’s okay if they don’t touch.

4. Warrior

Warrior fires up the big muscles of your legs for an intense workout. Take the basic stance by stepping one foot forward between three and four feet, depending on your height, with your toes pointed forward.

Your back foot pivots to 45 degrees while you bend your front knee.

Strive to bring the upper thigh parallel to the floor without extending your front knee past your ankle, although it’s okay not to go as low until you build strength.

Extend your arms toward the sky and square your hips.

5. Child’s Pose

This pose isn’t technically part of a sun salutation, although some guides include such a variation. Additionally, it’s a great pose to collapse in when physically or mentally spent and needing to surrender and let go.

From all fours, sink back, bringing your buttocks between your heels as you extend your arms forward in front of you, pressing your forehead to the floor.

You can turn your head to either side and add variations by shifting your arm and torso.

A young woman stretches into child's pose during her teen yoga class.

6. Low Lunge

Some instructors also include a low lunge or anjaneyasana in the sun salutation variation. This lunge pose opens the front of your thigh.

 Step one foot forward, keeping the knee above the ankle with the opposite knee on the ground.

Create space, widening the angle beyond 45 degrees and leaning into the front of the back thigh while keeping your front calf perpendicular to the floor. Extend your arms toward the sky.

What style of Yoga is best for yeens?

There are multiple yoga styles to explore and considerable variety between guides. Therefore, if one class isn’t the right fit, encourage teens to try another, such as:

  • Ashtanga
  • Power yoga
  • Vinyasa yoga
  • Hatha yoga
  • Hot yoga
  • Restorative yoga
  • Yin yoga
  • Kundalini yoga

If you’re encouraging teens to try yoga, explain the various styles. Encourage them to talk to their guide before class to ensure a more pleasant experience. For example, someone who wants a gentle stretch probably won’t enjoy power yoga. Yin and restorative are better bets, although they might also appreciate a mindful Hatha session.

There are also modern variations to explore.

For example, yoga on a paddleboard really works your balance, and yoga with goats or cats nurtures a love of animals while flowing through various poses.

How to encourage teens to engage in Yoga

What can independent practitioners and yoga studios do to spread the benefits of teen yoga to more youth?

Here are three ideas for growing your practice while helping others in their healing and mindfulness journeys.

Coordinate With Local Schools

Talk to a PE teacher about presenting to their class.

Many schools have had to cut fitness budgets, as crucial as they are. However, an after-school session could help fill the gap.

Team With Mental Health Practitioners

Energy attracts energy, and yoga guides tend to make acquaintances with other people in healing professions.

If you know someone who is a therapist or social worker, ask them for coffee and brainstorm ways you could help each other grow. They might refer people to you and vice-versa, or you could partner and establish an entire holistic healing program.

Partner With Parks and Rec

Finally, seek opportunities to teach teen yoga through your local parks and recreation department.

They often have budgets for course offerings but need guides to step up and offer their services. Occasionally, you’ll also find job leads through this method.

Effectively teaching teen Yoga

Yoga is a fabulous healing tool folks of all ages need in their self-care arsenal.

It’s particularly useful for helping teens navigate the challenges inherent in adolescence.

Use this guide to teach teen yoga and grow your practice effectively. Providing valuable training for teenagers in need is a win-win. 

Mia Barnes
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness freelance writer and practicing yogi with a passion for holistic wellness. Mia has been covering yoga-related topics for over 3 years and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, an online healthy living publication.