Teenagers are notorious slumpers. They then grow up to be slump shouldered adults. Help your teen lift up! Have them imagine their breast plate as a display case, displaying a beautiful diamond necklace. Feel the broad open chest supported by the broad, open back, the shoulder blades sliding down the back, the heavy tail bone, the lifted abdominal muscles…the stance is proud and open, but relaxed.
Here is a short yoga sequence to help teenagers out of “slump mode”:
1. Lie on back, with feet on floor (This is called Constructive Rest). Starting on the right side, bend your right arm and slide the lower arm under your lower back, so that the fingers of that hand can be seen on the opposite side of the body. Lower your body back down. You may need to adjust your arm to relieve any discomfort or tingling. Now simply breath in and out. Feel the lower back resting on the arm. You can roll your spine up and down, pressing the lower back into the arm a bit and then releasing. This is a gentle stretch for the front of the shoulder and the lower back. Repeat on left side. Adding a small neck bolster by rolling a blanket is a nice addition and helps to create space between the neck and shoulders and gently helps to stretch and relax the neck.
2. Now back to Constructive Rest. Roll completely onto the right side of your body. Knees are bent at hip height. Keeping the knees in place, slide your feet slightly forward, so that you can see your toes and then retract them just enough so they can no longer be seen. Allow your left arm to reach to the ceiling, elongating all the way from the center of your back and then roll the top portion of your body open so that the shoulders can rest on the floor. In this twist, the chest is open to the ceiling, while the knees and lower body are resting on the floor. If there is discomfort in the lower body, place a folded blanket between the thighs, possibly slide the knees a little higher or lower to relieve. If there is discomfort in the upper body, instead of opening the left arm all the way to the floor, allow it to rest on the ribs or even just allow the bent elbow to touch the floor. Breath. Repeat on left side.
3. Next bring both knees into chest and hug them in. Breath. Feel the belly pressing against the thighs on the inhale and a whole body softening on the exhale.
4. Roll over to Child’s Pose. This is a great stretch for the hips, back, shoulders and neck. Breath. Do you see how similar it is to the preceding pose? After a few moments of rest, sit up, onto the heels. Clasp hands behind the back and rest the thumbs on the sacrum. Feel a broadening and lifting in the chest as the shoulders open. Press the knuckles down towards the floor and create a back bend in your upper back. Head might rise to look at the ceiling but only allow the eyes to go as far as the nose can point. Return to regular Child’s Pose and rest for a few breaths.
5. Put hands on floor, by knees and curl toes under. Press up into Standing Child’s Pose. This is basically a forward bend, but the knees are soft and bent so that the abdomen and possibly ribs can lay on top of the thighs. This gives a great stretch for the back. Feel you tail bones heavy and feel your front draping. Hands can rest on the floor or hold the elbows for more stretch…or put hands on blocks if the floor is still too far away.
6. Standing. Place a beanbag on the top of the head, not for balance, but to allow the head to be up, the chest to be lifted, the shoulders are relaxed. The tailbones are heavy so that back is in neutral. Walk around. Breath.