When we think of yoga, the first things that come to mind may be spandex and patchouli, but yoga is actually a much deeper practice than what we see in mainstream media. Yoga consists of more than just the asana, or physical, part of the practice. It also includes pranayama (breathwork) and mindfulness and meditation. These three parts practiced together can provide a variety of mental health benefits for teens.
Mind, Body, and Breath
Asana: Asana is the physical part of your practice. And while there are more advanced poses that may include headstands and backbends, asana is as simple as putting your body into alignment and moving safely, and with a purpose. Reaching for your toes, even without touching them, is yoga. Asana is about moving your body in a beneficial way. For some, it may be strengthening, for others, it may be stretching or loosening. Asana encourages a mind-body connection, which can help promote a healthy body image as teens learn to appreciate their body in an environment without judgment.
Pranayama: Pranayama is the foundation of yoga. Without the breath, asana is just movement, not yoga. When you are feeling relaxed or are engaging in deep breathing, there is more space between each heartbeat and your heart rate variability is increased. This leads to feeling more emotionally regulated or calm. Deep breathing also sends the message to your mind that you are safe, and can relax. When we are tense, the breath becomes shallow, and the body tenses. Deep breathing sends the message to the brain, which then sends signals to the body that it is in a safe space and it doesn’t have to be on guard. Deep breathing practices can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is our ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing. Mindfulness is a skill that everyone can learn and practice. While meditation is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness, even simple acts like taking a walk or washing the dishes can become a mindfulness practice. For example, when you are washing dishes, how often are you really paying attention to what you’re doing? Are you thinking about the meal you just had? Or maybe the to-do list for the rest of your evening? Mindfully washing the dishes involves noticing the weight of the dishes in our hands. Noticing the heat of the water. Smelling the scent from the soap and feeling the bubbles. Seeing how the light reflects off the silverware. It’s a practice of becoming aware without judgment. We are encouraging our minds to slow down. Instead of getting swept up in racing thoughts or worrying about what has already happened and what will come next, mindfulness encourages us to stay rooted in the present. This is especially helpful for teens who struggle with self-regulation. When receiving a stimulus, instead of jumping to an emotional response, mindfulness teaches us to pause, notice, and then reflect.
Red Mountain Colorado Can Help
Red Mountain Colorado was founded to help struggling teens work through behavioral and emotional challenges. We specialize in the treatment of trauma-related mental health challenges. Throughout programming, we empower teens to build healthy coping skills and habits that they can use to work through the challenges they face.
Our mindfulness-based teen treatment programs help our students discover their inherent goodness and focus on giving back to the community. From there, they can focus on redirecting their life path in a positive direction and maintaining the strides made in primary treatment in a “real world” setting. For more information please call (877) 302-5022.