As the latest generation of committed yoga practitioners look toward the future of the practice, many are observing the efficacy of introducing yoga as a tool to manage health, emotion, and daily stress, and are feeling compelled to offer these tools to a younger generation. The youth of today are dealing with levels of stress and dis-ease that are comparable to that of adults, and just as destructive. To address this trend, many yogis are finding ways to offer the gifts of yoga to the younger generation.
The newest campaign of the Yoga Health Foundation, coordinators of Yoga Month September, is called Yoga-Recess in Schools. The initiative is aimed at bringing yoga based health education into the classroom in hopes of impacting the growing trend of childhood obesity.
The Yoga Health Foundation’s mission is to promote preventative health care and inspire a healthy lifestyle, and the organization has identified a growing need to implement these programs in schools that are losing physical education programs due to budget cuts and fiscal belt tightening. To initiate the program, the organization is providing free Yoga DVDs to school teachers as well as offering online training in which the teachers can participate. In the last four months, over 4000 teachers across the country have requested the free DVD through the yoga-recess website, and the first online teacher training program is in the works.
Another program that is working to introduce kids and teens to yoga is The Grounded program. The Grounded program is working to not only teach yoga to kids and adults but to teach them to teach others as well. The vision of the founders of The Grounded program is to give people of all ages, adults, children, and teens, the tools to “teach and share the transformational benefits of yoga” to others, and in doing so provide the tools by which everyone can manage the physical and emotional responses to life.
Founders Amy Haysman and Cheryl Crawford, both Anusara-Inspired teachers, share the same vision of teaching kids to utilize and teach yoga as a means of being more grounded in their lives. The Grounded program utilizes a specific set of asana sequences to engage and inspire, and a pennants program that is similar to earning belts in martial arts. As students earn achievements they earn pennants (levels and colors correlate with the Chakras), and upon earning the final white pennant, the student is qualified to share yoga with others. The program, though inclusive to adults, is centered around empowering kids with the tools that yoga provides, physically and emotionally, then encouraging them to share these tools with their peers. The mission of Grounded is “to ground themselves in order to elevate their life and the lives around them.”
These two initiatives represent only a fraction of the organizations addressing the needs of kids and teens today with Yoga. Chances are, there is a group of yogis near you that wants to provide support in ways similar to the organizations highlighted. Or, if there isn’t a group near you, maybe you can utilize these resources to start one.