Partner Yoga for Teens: Is it Inappropriate?

 

The question always stops me in my tracks:

“Is it really okay for teens to be touching each other in yoga? Isn’t that against the rules?”

And what shocks me even more is the people who ask. It’s not just my cab driver in Asheville, NC who politely inquired about my line of work. Or my hair stylist killing time with a little chit chat. Even some yoga teachers who work with youth have serious reservations about getting teens sitting back to back for fear of being chastised by administration and parents.

Each time I get the question (and I get it lots lately since I’m working on a partner yoga for teens project), it’s a throw-my-hands-in-the-air, what-is-this-world-coming-to moment.

Really? Supporting each other in stretches and postures for health is questionable, but mauling each other on the field to win a game is not only fully accepted, but celebrated to the point of being a national treasure?

Teaching teens about appropriate touch helps them relate with each other compassionately. In partner yoga, teens learn to communicate in peaceful ways. They learn to listen. They learn to share their truth. Most importantly, they learn to support and be supported.

Who wouldn’t want that for teens?

In 15 years or so of teaching, I’ve not had a single teen behave out of bounds in partner yoga. Yes, this takes skill and sensitivity. Trust must be built first.  I strongly believe partner yoga should always be optional, with solo variations offered.

The truth is, I’ve found teens to be much more willing to enter into yogic practices with a friend or peer at their side to support and relate to.

Any other teachers out there with different or similar experiences teaching partner yoga to teens? I’d love to hear from you~

COMMENTS (6)

Yes, Yes, Yes!! I have had the exact same experience here in Atlanta. Just like you, I help them build trust first. Partner poses are a way for teens to connect and help each other. We also teach them how to adjust/enhance each others postures.
The next step is to partner with someone who is not on their ‘contact list’. This has been the most successful way that I know for teens to connect with others who are in different networks. Then they start saying “Namaste”to each other in the halls and sitting together at lunch.
Let’s continue to stand together for what we know to be true. Teens need this work now more than ever, and practicing with peers in extremely potent.
Grateful for your work,
Cheryl

    Thanks for your comment, Cheryl. It is so good to be in community across the miles and know that you are out there doing this work everyday! YES! Practicing with peers off their “contact list” is truly transformative. I love coming up with creative ways of partnering up teens. Partnering teens whose birthdays are closest seems to work really well since they already have a common ground. Gratitude;)

I teach teens yoga weekly at school (14 – 15 yr olds) and I find they love the partner work. I do partner work every week, generally just 2 – 3 poses to keep them engaged and happy. Occasionally I skip it to work on a more tricky pose or for group work and very quickly someone says aren’t we doing partner work today. They love working together, there is lots of giggles and sometimes they even create their own versions when they are finished the pose. I find it is great for their self esteem, they bond really well and let go of any tension or issues they may have walked into the class with.
Yes, it does get noisy but it is worth it too see the smiles and hear the giggles. When they achieve a pose they thought they couldn’t do, they are truly elated!They are considerate of each others bodies and they never push or stretch each other to extremes. They would be disappointed if I were to omit the partner work each week.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Martine. It’s true, the noise level does go up! I’m so happy to hear other teachers are utilizing this powerful teaching technique. Thanks again.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Martine. It’s true, the noise level does go up! I’m so happy to hear other teachers are utilizing this powerful teaching technique. Thanks again.

Great post and comments! We encourage a lot of partner work for the same reasons in our preteen and teen classes, but have to admit that, at that age, due to the developmental and social awkwardness that come with puberty, the sexes are separated most of the time. Question to everyone: Do your classes include both sexes. If so, do you partner them quite as much, and if so, in all the same ways? Thanks for sharing!

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