by Maggie Munday Odom: Last year, when I was 15, I got certified to be a yoga teacher…
I first got involved in yoga and meditation at 8 years old to help me cope with a rare chronic pain disorder. Throughout my life, yoga has provided relief from anxiety, depression, and the everyday stresses of being a teenager.
Teens today are more interested in yoga than ever.
Our generation faces a huge amount of pressure from school, parents, and the media. Yoga provides a space to breathe and release this pressure.
As more and more young people take up yoga, older yoga teachers need to take the time to listen to and learn from the unique experiences and lessons picked up by younger students.
I am here to share several lessons I’ve learned along my own journey as a teenage yoga teacher.
Here Are 4 Lessons I’ve Learned Being a Young Yoga Teacher:
1. Yoga is not a competition
Because of the fact that I’m always so much younger than other students and teachers, I constantly find myself comparing myself to the people around me.
Whether it’s my form, my cues, my voice cadence during meditation, my adjustments, or any other aspect of being either a student or teacher, I feel as though I just can’t seem to measure up to others.
This challenge is faced by nearly every yogi, and is not unique to me as a teenager and young yoga teacher. We have to get it through our heads that yoga is not a contest.
We are all growing at our own rates and comparing our headstand to our mat neighbor’s headstand is not fueling our growth, but instead filling us with unnecessary negativity.
2. Yoga can be woven into everyday life
We all hear about taking yoga “off the mat and into the world.”
Many may think that teenage life does not provide many opportunities to do this, but I believe there are plenty of simple ways to fill everyday life with yoga.
Simple ways to do this are to perform Pranayama (breathing) exercises before stressful situations like high pressure tests, or reciting mantras before class to fill the soul with confidence and peace.
Want to learn more about Pranayama? Read: Pranayama Explained + 5 Techniques to Get You Started
These are simple ways to incorporate yogic techniques into high school life, but they can easily be adapted for anyone. If a teenager can do it, so can you!
3. Yoga is a lifelong journey
As many of us do, I often set high expectations for my yoga practice and teaching, and I set far more short term goals than long term goals.
I want to get my handstand in a few weeks. I want to plan a more creative flow for next week. I want to better understand and incorporate yoga philosophy.
I often ignore one of the biggest perks of being a younger yoga teacher: I have the rest of my life to grow and develop my relationship with yoga. While you may not be 15, you still have plenty of time to evolve in your practice.
Step back and look at the big picture, giving yourself grace and patience to evolve over time.
4. The yoga community is full of different perspectives
As a teenage yoga teacher, I often find myself believing that I am far less qualified than other teachers.
I often make the assumption that older yoga teachers with experience are “better” than young yoga teachers like me.
However, there really is no “better” – just different. Every age and life stage provides a new lens through which to view yoga. Younger yoga teachers have ways of seeing the practice of yoga that may be totally different than older teachers.
You have a completely different relationship to the yoga practice than any other teacher ever. Every yoga teacher should use their unique perspective and to fuel their passion for teaching.
Being a Young Yoga Teacher: My Takeaway
I’ve spent the past year and a half of my teenage life going on a journey with yoga.
Being a young yoga teacher and student has taught me unique things about the practice. I hope that this article provided insight into the experience and lessons learned by a younger yogi.
As mentioned above, every stage of life provides a new perspective on yoga.
Take the time to reflect on what your age has helped you learn from the practice of yoga, and also take time to listen and learn from the experiences of other teachers and students and different points in their journey.