by Jenny Walker
Mindfulness in teenagers and children is becoming increasingly important as we see a rise in young people struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. For centuries men and women have used yoga to help build strength, reduce stress and find balance. Today we find that yoga can offer young people the same benefits.
Venus Lillis, co-owner of Thrive Yoga, said the mental health benefits of yoga practice are important for young people.
“Teaching them mindfulness and body awareness at an early age can positively impact their physical and emotional development,” Lillis said. “Through yoga, we can build confidence, improve emotion regulation, strengthen focus, reduce impulsivity, and practice healthy ways of processing and relieving stress.”
Jessica McCarty, owner of Prodigy Yoga, has specialized in providing trauma-sensitive yoga practice for those who have gone through especially difficult situations. The studio offers four trauma-sensitive yoga classes each week, and two of those classes are designed to be kid-friendly.
In addition to mental health benefits yoga practice is a great physical workout for children and teenagers who want to build strength. Lillis said yoga teaches kids to love movement.
“Yoga is different from other forms of physical fitness because it’s non-competitive, and our practice is designed to protect the body from injury,” she said. “It’s also accessible for every level and body type. People who have practiced for a long time and those who are brand new can practice in the same class and both be successful.”
McCarty said more young people are becoming aware of the benefits of yoga.
“We have recently had many students sign up for our classes,” she said. “This is becoming a new shift in our business. As teenagers are learning more about the benefits of yoga, they are more inclined to come and participate.”
McCarty said that all regular yoga classes at Prodigy Yoga are open to students of any age, but a special kids-only class is held at 11 a.m. the second Saturday of each month and includes yoga for 30 minutes. At the end of class students create an art project. Special discounted rates are available for teens and pre-teens through the summer.
Thrive also offers classes that cater to children. Lillis said they will have two July yoga workshops for kids July 10 from noon to 1 p.m. and July 14 from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. These classes resemble structured play. Instructors break the class into shorter, engaging activities and give the poses kid-friendly names. She said teenagers can join any class on Thrive’s regular schedule.
Texarkana native Jenny Walker has worked in education for almost 20 years, but her favorite and most important job has been to serve as mom to Ryan Kate and Owen.