Ferris Bueller Teen Mental Health

Mid-term reports are happening with school having been in session for a couple months now. Kids and families are adjusting to new schedules with health and public safety protocols which has been exhausting for many. Some kids and families are ready for a break and Thanksgiving feels far away!

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of a day like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” … Ferris Bueller

While Ferris seized the day, today’s teens are advocating for mental health days off school -legally. The article states: declining mental health of children and adolescents has led to new laws allowing kids to advocate for their own self-care. In the last two years, 8 states have passed bills permitting children to be absent from school for mental or behavioral health reasons, efforts that were often aided or spearheaded by students.

What if kids had access to yoga? Would life slow down? Would it help them keep up? Research says yes. Healthy habits, including mindfulness, movement and mediation are scientifically proven to reduce stress. Yoga is a way to have some fun - no winners or losers - and manage the mental load when academic, athletic and social life pressure becomes too much to handle. Yoga supports youth in every way.

There are other ways to support teens in school. One idea is: Don’t drill your teen about their feelings. Instead, talk about the emotional environment that surrounds them; allow them to off-load feelings without reacting yourself. Yet another reason for yoga to “practice the pause” before responding to any situation. Help your kids express and release bad situations and then focus on a fun activity - like YOGA?

Halloween Kids Yoga Classes

The whole week leading up to Halloween we will dress in costume and transform our yoga class into spooky fun together! Here’s what to expect:

1. Pick a costume you can move in. We’ve seen the sweetest and scariest costumes over the years. Some of our friends get very excited for Halloween and go all out! Be sure to bring accessories, but leave them to the side during class. Watch out for any pokey objects as part of your custom or anything that may impede your ability to move safely like long fabrics. More snuggly fitting costumes are better for yoga.

2. Get your creative juices flowing! Of course, we’ll make the cat, monkey, crescent moon and spooky trees, we’ll also play the game: Witches, Ghosts and Zombies, Oh My! There will be a haunted house pose and we'll concoct a witches brew. There are so many fun things to do!

3. RIP - After our yoga fun, we’ll rest in peace. It’s as if Halloween was made for yoga because I bet you’ll recognize our vampire pose as savasana. Instead of our clouds, we’ll pretend to be in our coffins! Don’t worry, we’ll come back to life right after our trick-or-treat mediation.

We can’t wait to see you outdoors for this year’s Halloween-themed classes the week of October 25-31. Register now!

Meditation for Kids and Parents

In a recent article why I need to hide from my kids, I appreciated the truth of how hard it is to have a family and solitude. It’s also telling how giving your partner the gift of time apart is invaluable. The skills offered by experts aligns with why yoga is so important for families.

1. Alone time is practicing self-care and good mental health. Quiet time and/or meditation for all ages is beneficial for the body and the mind. The goal is to sit for 1 minute of silence for your age. That means a 2 year old can sit for 2 minutes. Yes, it’s possible with practice! One major benefit of alone time (not to be confused with feeling lonely) is being more present when you’re with others. We need time away and we need time together. It’s best to ask for quiet time proactively vs. reactively when stress becomes overwhelming. Meditation keeps stress at bay.

2. Make observation time part of your family’s routine. Take time to stare at anything besides a screen. I love the example in the article about “tree time” where the kids who are 3 and 5 go outside everyday to meditate and stare at a tree. Try it with clouds and stars too! Observing in silence is the act of mindfulness. Being mindful has enormous benefits including creating joy in the mundane - a critical skill for all family members. This practice is a called Yantra Meditation - a form of gazing meditation that helps with concentration.

3. Downtime is okay and not everyone has to like it. People deserve privacy. It’s okay to ask for it. We get moody, especially young teens, and we’re not even sure why. This is a good time to ask: What do you feel like you need? To move, to read, to rest, to play, to bathe, to sleep. When you’re having a hard time, take a break, get still, and select what you need most in that moment. All feelings can be felt and worked through. Discomfort teaches us to take care of ourselves even if it makes someone else unhappy temporarily. Dealing with disappointment is a skill - one we can learn in yoga.

If practicing these skills seems challenging in your home, find a yoga class to bring what you learn on the mat to your life.

Yoga and Social Emotional Feelings

My eldest just went to college - finally - after the Covid crisis of last year. I’m lucky. I got a bonus year with her, right? Except, it didn’t feel like a bonus navigating all the losses of 2020. I’m so happy she’s finally on her way - and she is too! I’m not an empty nester. My 16 year old is at home, so how do I explain this weird sensation in my body and in my household?

As I sat with a group of new moms for the IYK® Baby + Toddler class, I was struck by something unexpected. I remember that feeling of being SO ready for my baby to get out of my body. She can’t stay there forever; at full-term, it’s time for her to be out! Yet, after birth, there was this odd vacancy in my body and I was left with the squishy leftovers of her having been there. With my last birth, I remember thinking I’ll never feel that again, and I was sad because I loved being pregnant.

Leaping years forward, no one explained that strange sensation would happen again when she left the house. She packed her room. We got her into the on-campus apartment. It all went smoothly. She was all set. Then, I came home. The house felt different. It didn’t matter how many sleepovers, trips taken or camps she attended, she always landed back here. But this time, it felt different. I walked through her room and gathered the remnants she’d left behind. It was that same squishy leftover feeling of her no longer living in my vessel.

That hit me hard. I was fortunate to be spared of postpartum depression with both of my pregnancies. I work with so many moms who experience it intensely and it’s hard to overcome those challenges. I’ve always empathized, but now I identify with them in this new way. It’s postpartum part 2 for me, and it’s real!

Fortunately, there’s always a silver lining and a metaphor with yoga:

  • Feel the feels - the vacancy. In yoga, it’s the exhale to the bottom of your breath.
  • Let go. In yoga, release any tension you are holding in your body and mind.
  • Love yourself fully. In yoga, be with yourself in every state with care.

Within a week, I was delighted to hear Kate had enrolled in some yoga classes. She was taking off navigating new experiences - another metamorphosis complete.

Yoga for Kids and Unconditional Love

This month, we celebrate Grandparents Day on September 12. Grandparents matter for many reasons. To name a few: unconditional love, perspective and presence. Interestingly, these are qualities we learn in yoga, too.

Unconditional Love. Often, grandparents get to be the parents they weren’t. It’s a do-over without the pressures of parenting. Grandparents lead with LOVE. They are more relaxed, patient and forgiving. And they love to spoil their grandchildren! The love from a grandparent feels different - like you can do no wrong. Similarly in yoga, we learn to love ourselves from the inside out regardless of what we can do on the mat. Love for self is essential for health and happiness.

Perspective. We think we are the only ones experiencing the challenges of our time. The hardships that our grandparents endured are often overlooked as history not relevant to today - except they are. Everything is relative and the fears over the years compare to the political, economic and social fears of the moment. It is said, history repeats itself until we learn from it. Grandparents offer a different point of view and grandchildren love to listen to their stories!

Presence. I would be with my Granny for hours! We baked. We sewed. We gardened. We tied bows. We cleaned the house. We played cards and dice games. We read. We cuddled. We listened to music. We danced. We loved every moment together! She’s always fully present with me. In yoga, we learn to be present with ourselves through our breath.

"This too shall pass” is the #1 thing I learned from my Granny.

Everything is impermanent. Everything changes. Nothing lasts for ever - not power, not beauty, not money and not the thoughts and emotions that flood our systems from moment to moment. In yoga, we take one breath at a time.

I love my Granny. She turns 100 on September 23. She’s still sharp in her mind and healthy in her body. We’re blessed my aunt is her daily caregiver so she can live at home. She’s slowed way down. But never too slow to remind me what matters most in life - enduring love.

One of our favorite things at It’s Yoga Kids is when grandparents come to breathe, move and relax with their children and grandchildren in Family Yoga. Ahhh, it’s so sweet!

Learn all sorts of useful tips about Yoga for Kids!