Teen Yoga Starts Today, June 6th, at 4:00 pm

All of us have something that we don't like about our bodies. Men, women, children, and especially teens struggle at some time in their lives (perhaps all their lives) with body image. We are bombarded with Madison Avenue's media blitz that we should be perfect in every way - thin, beautiful, strong, muscular, handsome, athletic, intelligent, successful, and the list could go on and on. Oftentimes, this becomes an obsession with appearing perfect and encouraging self-rejection with stressful over dieting, over working out, or over fixation on the perfect appearance to the outside world. Teens seem to be especially vulnerable to compulsive behavior and feelings of self-hatred.

Yoga's message is all about nonviolence, ahimsa. This is built into the founding 8 principles of Astanga. It is what I like to refer to as the "Do good to yourself and others" section of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Ahimsa encourages nonviolence and moderation in our thoughts, speech, and action.

Accepting ourselves "as is" will be a challenge all of our lives, but it especially targets the teen years when conformity is at an all time high on our priority list. This does not mean that we quit striving for being the change that we want to see, but it does help us to let go of the constant thoughts of negativity that roam through our minds towards ourselves. Due to "thin" is "in," and "overweight people are simply lazy and unmotivated," girls and guys in the 12 to 20 range tend to overly restrict calorie intake by starving and sometimes roll over into the binge eating with the after-affects of purging through over exercising, vomiting, or use of laxatives.

"Besides offering emotional and spiritual support, yoga provides physiological help to reverse or minimize the long lasting effects of dieting, starving, or binge eating. For example, inversions are a young girl's best friend. They work by helping to balance the endocrine (glandular) system and stabilize blood pressure which can fall dangerously low if you are anorexic. Shoulderstand, a favorite among many teens, calms your nervous system and arrests the fight or flight response that chronic stress triggers in your body. Because it employs a chin lock, shoulderstand stabilizes your thyroid as well. Yoga's forward bends calm your adrenal glands, which work overtime when your body is under stress. Standing and balancing poses build strength and tone muscle. Twists and backbending postures activate and energize your body by causing your adrenal glands to work properly." The Women's Book of Yoga and Health by Linda Sparrow.

Our teen yoga will incorporate rock and roll popular music with sequences to strengthen and energize our bodies while benefitting our minds with acceptance and nonviolence towards ourselves. Even though it is intended for teenagers, adults who enjoy a faster paced music and shorter time period might like to try it as well. Our summer class is at 4:00 p.m. on Monday afternoons at Tranquility Yoga Studio in Owasso. Call 918-371-3841 for more information.

"Be the change that you want to see," but in your being learn to let go of unkindness in your thought life towards yourself concerning your body image, your stress level, and your actions. Only when we let go of these attachments can we really achieve true, lasting success.

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