Don’t fear the teen years
Bharat Thakur, Columnist, GULF NEWS, Published: March 08, 2008, 01:10
This is the second part of yoga for children. It focuses on teenagers.
Teen years are a difficult time. During puberty and later teens, several hormonal and physiological changes take place in the body.
These changes often result in rebellion and mood swings.
Regular practise of yoga can help teens maintain balance in their lives. Asanas help build flexibility, strengthen muscles and keep internal organs healthy.
Trataka is a cleansing technique that helps the child to improve memory, develop concentration and a strong will power.
Bandhas help balance certain hormonal secretions.
Given below are some practices that can be made part of the teen lifestyle so that teenagers benefit all round and stay healthy.
Surya Namaskar is a combination of ten postures, which can be practised daily in rounds of 10 to 20.
Chakrasana (The wheel pose)
Lie on the back with the knees bent and the heels touching the buttocks.
The feet and knees should be about 30cm apart.
Place the palms on the floor beside the head with the fingers pointing towards the shoulders.
Slowly, raise the body and arch the back, allowing the crown of the head to support the weight of the upper body.
Straighten the arms and legs as much as possible and lift the head and trunk from the floor.
Try to arch the back as high as possible in the final position.
Let the head hang between the straightened arms.
Hold this position for as long as is comfortable.
Slowly, lower the body so that the head rests on the floor and lower the rest of the body, too.
Practise three rounds.
Caution : Should be practised on a carpet to protect the head.
Shouldn’t be practised by teens with any illness, weak wrists or when they are feeling tired.
Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand)
Lie on the back on a mat. Make sure your body is straight.
With the support of your arms, slowly raise the legs to a vertical position, keeping them straight.
Bend the elbows and place the hands behind the rib cage, keeping them slightly away from the spine, to support the back.
Gently push the chest forward to bring it closer to the chin.
In the final position, the legs are vertical, together and in a straight line with the trunk.
Hold this position for as long as is comfortable.
To return to the starting position, bring the legs forward until the feet are above and behind the back of the head.
Slowly, release the position of the hands and bring the body down to the floor.
Relax on your back until the heart beat returns to normal.
Beginners should hold the position for a few seconds only.
Gradually increase the time to 3-5 minutes.
Should be performed once.
Caution: Shouldn’t be practised by teens suffering from enlarged thyroid, cervical spondylitis and slip disc.
Should be avoided during menstruation.
Marjariasana ( Cat-stretch pose)
Sit on your heels.
Raise the buttocks and stand on the knees.
Lean forward and place the hands flat on the floor beneath the shoulder, with the fingers facing forward.
Inhale and raise the head while depressing the spine, so that the back becomes concave.
Exhale while lowering the head and stretching the spine upwards.
At the end of each exhalation, contract the abdomen and pull in the buttocks and head between the arms and look towards the thighs.
This is one round; repeat 10 to 15 times.
Singhasana (Roaring-lion pose)
Sit on your heels with knees about 45cm apart.
Place the palms on the floor between the knees, with the fingers pointing towards the body.
Lean forward, resting the body on the straightened arms.
Arch the back and gently tilt the head back so that there is a comfortable tension in the neck.
Inhale slowly and deeply.
At the end of the inhalation, open the mouth and extend tongue as far as possible towards the chin.
While slowly exhaling, produce a clear steady “aaah” sound from the throat.
This is one round. Repeat five times.
Benefits: When we press the chin to the throat, the parathyroid and thyroid glands in the neck get activated and thyroxin is secreted.
This hormone helps reduce stress.
It also helps control numerous problems related to the thyroid gland.
Sit in a comfortable posture with the back straight.
Inhale deeply, fill your lungs with air, raise your chest and hold your breath.
Press your chin to the throat.
Hold your breath for 30 seconds to a minute.
When you can’t hold your breath anymore, raise your head and exhale.
Repeat three times.
Caution: People with cervical spondylosis shouldn’t attempt this bandha.
Teens with high thyroxin levels shouldn’t perform this bandha.
Trataka (Gazing with concentration)
Light a candle and place it on a small table. The flame should be exactly at the eye level when sitting.
Sit in a comfortable position with the head and spine erect. Be at arm’s length from the candle.
Close your eyes to relax them.
Open your eyes and gaze steadily at the end of the candlewick. The flame may flicker slightly but the end of the wick will always remain steady.
Try not to blink or move the eye balls in any way.
Don’t strain, as that will make you blink because of tension.
After a minute or two, when your eyes become tired or begin to water, close them gently.
With your eyes closed, focus mentally on the image of the flame.
If the image moves, try to stabilise it.
When the image of the flame begins to fade, try to bring it back.
When the image can no longer be retained, open your eyes and gaze at the end of the wick once more.
Repeat the practice.
Continue this way for two to three times.
After completing the final round, rub your palms and keep them on your eyes a couple of times.
Caution: Must be practised on a steady flame, so ensure that the room is not airy.
Avoid undue strain.