Psychological Benefits of Yoga for Teenagers

By Monica Wilson on April 10, 2012

Attending yoga classes have positive psychological effects to teenagers, reported a study published at the Journal of Developmental & Behavioural Paediatrics.

Yoga and its Benefits to Teens: The Study

Researchers from the Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked at the effects of yoga among high school students. 51 teenagers were asked to participate in the study – some were asked to attend a 10-week yoga PE session which includes meditation, breathing and relaxation exercises, while some went through the regular PE class. Before and after the experiment, participants were asked to take some psychological tests that measured their level of response to various mental and emotional triggers such as mood and anxiety as well as their levels of resilience to anger and mindfulness.

Researchers found out that those who went through yoga PE class scored higher on some psychological tests while those who didn’t scored low. Consequently, those who attended yoga sessions were found to have improved in handling anxiety problems while those who went through the regular PE class showed the poor results. Their findings also revealed that negative emotions improved in students who did yoga and worsened in those who didn’t.

Yoga for Teens and How it Helps

Yoga has long been used by many people (most especially by adults) as a method to improve physical and mental wellbeing. A typical yoga session is composed of several slow movements and breathing exercises. One of the most interesting things about yoga is that it combines strength and flexibility with meditation and relaxation techniques. As a result, one feels rejuvenated both physically and mentally after the session. Below are ways on how yoga can help teens cope with stress, anxiety, and depression:

-    The breathing exercises involved in yoga helps teenagers relieve tension by relaxing the muscles and allowing the brain and nervous system to work harmoniously.

-        Yoga helps alleviate energy blockages within the system that usually cause digestive problems and discomfort (including headaches).

-          It helps improve posture and increases flexibility of both the spine and the joints.

-        Yoga helps teenagers go away from the busy world and explore their inner world. This allows them to reflect on their feelings, dreams, and goals and become more aware of themselves.

-         Yoga is an enjoyable way of exercising. It’s a good way to introduce healthy living to the youth.

While the study is small in size, it is consistent with the results of previous studies suggesting positive psychological effects of yoga not just to teenagers but to children and adults as well. The lead author, Dr Jessica Noggle, calls for larger studies to identify some other health benefits of yoga which includes prevention of mental illnesses.

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