Movement, and therefore yoga, is essential for teenagers' fast-growing bodies.
Through yoga, we can also help them make their own essential life skills such as self-esteem and confidence, inner and outer strength, attention and concentration, and heightened awareness of both themselves and others.
No more songs and Yoga Journeys… but yoga can’t be boring!
For older children, fun is not enough, your yoga class also has to be COOL!
What makes Yoga Cool?
Some people are cool because, with all of their imperfections, they are not ashamed to be themselves!
They are proud to be who they are, they wear their quirks like badges of honour.
It reminds me of my daughter Delphin who opened at her school the Weirdos Club! If you are normal and popular you don't belong here... This club is for unique people. This is COOL!
Will you be accepted to the Weirdos Club?
What's weird about you?
What makes you special?
You can be a yoga fairy, a yoga rockstar or a cool yoga grandmother…
Proudly make into your character, your persona!
Our whole system is made to flatten us and level us and make us all the same and make us all fit into the same boxes. It is efficient.
Be a square peg that doesn't fit into a round hole; be whatever unidentified shape of peg you want to be, but be an awesome peg!
2. COOL MUSIC
Music is the soundtrack to life!
It holds memories, it carries feelings like nothing else, and it empowers and motivates.
Music is a language; if you play their (your students') music you are in!
You can easily use the rhythm and vibe of the music to create/change the atmosphere in the class: If you play energetic music, it makes the kids want to move and if you play relaxing music, they will start feeling like they want to wind down and relaxed. So simple and it works like magic!
So you can see how important it is to curate music to fit your class... Music can be the power that urges your students on when it is challenging, and the song to touch their hearts and make them cry (a good thing) when you want them to tune into their feelings.
We sometimes even let our students plug in their devices and play their playlists for the class or a certain activity.
3. THINGS YOUR STUDENTS CAN SHOW OFF TO THEIR FRIENDS
Oh yes! Yoga can be a really cool party trick!
With a bit of training and spicing it up with other cool elements, you can create real show-stoppers in your class that your students can use to glorify themselves after.
- Advanced poses such as arm balances
- Human Pyramids
- Martial Arts
- Belly Dancing
- And much more!
- Healing energy hands
- .. Blowing up things!
What talents do you have that you might be able to add to your yoga class to make it cool?
4. FIND NEW HIP WAYS TO DO YOGA
No more songs and Yoga Journeys. Instead use:
- Partner Yoga sequences
- Human Mandalas (group yoga flows)
- Follow-My-Body (everyone follows a leader in a sequence to some cool music, no words)
- The Wave (like the Mexican Wave, we do poses one after the other in a circle)
- Yoga Chirography (yoga flows choreographed to cool music)
- Make a yoga movie (videotape it and share it on your private FB group)
- Creation (making up your own new poses, ways to do yoga together, group sequences etc…)
All of those will also give these young people a sense of achievement as we create beautiful yoga together.
5. MEANINGFUL THEMES
We never do a class that is just a collection of poses and games; there must always be a topic or a theme to glue it all together. It gives the class a direction and enriches it with more depth and substance. We call this a Class with a Concept:
When we do a class with a concept, everything we will do in that class will centre on that one concept. Bring the concept into the class by relating it to all the poses and games that you choose. Here we aim to create an experience that will transform the students.
Open the class with a short discussion about the topic in which everyone contributes something during their turn. It is great to do this during the Sole Mates exercise (we all sit in a circle and give our foot to our neighbour to massage), or while passing a speaking instrument (when you hold it, it is your turn to talk). You don’t want this to dissolve into a boring lecture.
The concept can be more physical, or deal with our inner world, our relationship with others, or current topics from the environment all the way to world peace.
For example, if the concept is ‘trust’:
- While doing the Sole Mates exercise, ask each child in the circle to tell you about someone they trust, or about someone they think trusts them.
Do poses that require the children to trust themselves. These include Head Stand or Crow Pose:
- When they first try Crow Pose most of them fall. I then ask them what they were thinking when they did the pose. Mostly they’ll answer that they were thinking that their face is going to smash on the floor.
- I ask them to do the pose again, but this time thinking that they can totally do it, I encourage them to visualize themselves already in the pose; most of them will achieve the pose by the end of this activity.
- Do poses that require the children to trust each other. These include counterbalance poses and other acro-balance poses.
- Play games that involve trust
- End with a massage or a ‘loving kindness’ meditation.
6. FOLLOW THEIR LEAD
Make them a part of it – co-create the class with your students! Then the class becomes from “your class (you are the teacher, or worse, the replacement teacher)” to “our class” where each of us has an invested interest in making the class work.
Let them be the teachers for a while, leading a Sun Dance for example; no words are needed, just put on some groovy music and allow anyone who wishes to, step into the centre of the circle and lead a sequence of flowing poses – uber-cool!