Being a teen is stressful. From academic pressure, to hectic social schedules, and trying to prepare for life after school, teens have a lot on their plates. Things can really seem to pile up this time of year with the stress of exams looming.
Stress can manifest itself in multiple ways, from mental turmoil to physical pain. Some people will find themselves feeling anxious and even depressed when they can’t effectively manage stress. Others notice physical ailments like neck and back pain, or digestion problems. Finding a way to deal with stress effectively is important to help maintain balance. Taking a break from work can actually help in the long run. Sometimes we gain creativity and inspiration in unexpected places, which we can bring back to our work with a renewed sense of purpose.
Many of our Teen Yoga students were happy to find that participating in the class helped to aid the symptoms of stress, and help them learn strategies to manage their stress on their own terms. This was especially true during exam time, when they felt extremely stressed.
So, to help remind our students how to de-stress and keep calm in the next few weeks, we’ve put together this guide for stress relieving yoga poses and mindfulness practice.
Stress relieving yoga poses:
Child’s pose: A wonderful relaxing pose that gently stretches the back while giving your whole body the chance to slow down and surrender. By allowing your body this chance to let go, your mind will follow.
Revolved Triangle Pose: a stretching and twisting pose, triangle helps to open your heart and chest while giving your inner organs a squeeze. Opening the chest will help encourage deep breathing, while stimulating the digestive organs can relieve and tensions being held there.
Shoulder Stand or Legs up the Wall: Getting upside down, even if it’s just laying down with your legs against the wall is a great way to get your blood flowing and renew the energy through your body. It’s an incredibly refreshing posture, and can help clear your thoughts by giving your body and mind a shift in perspective.
Cat and Cow: This sequence normally done at the beginning of class is a great way to elongate the spine and stretch out the neck and shoulders. It targets all of the areas that tend to hold stress and tension.
Gradual Relaxation: Laying on your bed on your back start to relax your body one bit at a time. Start with your feet, tensing them and then releasing. Continue through your body, from your legs, to your stomach, to your shoulders, and face. Imagine that each body part is physically letting go of any stress or tension and picture that energy drifting away. Lay here for a few minutes enjoying stillness and quiet.
Breathing exercise: You can do this exercise sitting or lying down. Perhaps even just taking a few moments during your revision. On your inhale quietly count to the number 7, and on the exhale quietly count to the number 11. This way you make your exhales longer than your inhale, which helps your nervous system to relax. By focusing on the sensations of your breath in your body you can also gain some space from stressful thoughts or feelings.
Visualization: We all have a place that we like to go for calm and comfort. Sometimes that place exists only as a memory. But it is a place that we can always visit in our mind. Take a few minutes to imagine that you are in that place. Try and evoke all of your senses. What do you smell? Hear? Feel? Really try to go to that place and allow your body an escape from stress.
We hope this guide was helpful and that it makes the exams season a bit less painful. Remember that stress only exists if you allow it to, and with the right tools, you can overcome it!
CAMILLE is a Masters Student at King’s College London pursuing a degree in international child studies. Her interest lies in the work with teenage girls, specifically in matters relating to self-esteem and body image.
VERONIKA is the founder of Teen Yoga & Mindfulness. She is an experienced RT500 Yoga teacher, Mindfulness teacher and teacher trainer for adults and young people. She also works as a counsellor and training integrative psychotherapist.