The first time someone asked me to teach a yoga class to teenagers, a big part of me thought about running for the proverbial hills. Teenagers? I thought. It can be daunting enough as a new(ish) teacher of adult classes, but at least adults aren't likely to disrupt the entire class and stare at you like you've asked them to kill a relative every time you try and get them to try a new pose.
And in the time that's passed since that first class, I'll be honest- there have been times when I have left a class feeling frustrated and slightly like a chippy sixteen year old myself. But I have discovered too that I absolutely love teaching teens, for all kinds of reasons. If you've been thinking about it, here are some points to consider.
You'd be helping them to navigate a crucial life transition
Teenagers brains are literally rewiring and their bodies are changing at rates that are often alarming to them. There can surely be no better time to offer them tools to help them accept these factors.
You have to throw out the rulebook, constantly
Teenagers straddle that wonderful divide between adulthood and childhood. You may well go in planning a class that's essentially a version of what you taught in a gym this morning. But you may soon realise that what they really need is some yoga playtime. And vice versa.
The rewards far outweigh the challenges
OK, there probably isn't a teen yoga teacher anywhere who hasn't torn out a little bit of hair (their own, I should add) at some point. Teens don't always do what you ask them to. They will make it VERY clear when they're not enjoying themselves. But the most rewarding moments of my yoga career have been times like when I witnessed a student finally getting into headstand after trying for two months, or when the mother of another student told me after class one day that yoga had given her daughter so much new confidence.
They will sometimes be moody or difficult- that's their job!
With regards to the above, had the mother not told me about her daughter's love of yoga, I would never in a million years have guessed, as the student rarely engaged with me and often seemed indifferent or downright fed-up in class. Don't assume that their behaviour is about you, even though you might be tempted to.
You will never laugh so much in an adult yoga class, guaranteed
Teenagers' rambunctiousness is a good thing, too- I have often found myself laughing along with them as they discover the sillier side of yoga postures.
Don't you wish YOU had done yoga as a teen?
I can only speak for myself here; I sure do! I often feel like the difficulties of my late teens and early twenties could have been alleviated if I had been introduced to yoga when I was young. The teenage years are not famed for their grounding qualities. What a gift to offer a young person a little sanctuary from the craziness of their everyday lives.
And let's not forget- there's still a teenager in all of us, somewhere. And maybe, just maybe, in holding space for the teens in your class, you're holding space for that part of you that could have benefitted from it yourself.