09 May Snooze Or Lose
If your teenager is having trouble getting enough sleep, feels stressed all the time and can’t focus in class, then the simple and enjoyable practice of Yoga Nidra could be the answer.
Yoga nidra is an incredibly pleasurable experience, for young, old or anyone in-between. Yet yoga instructor and special needs teacher Sanjukta Sharma says it’s particularly helpful for teenagers as they deal with school pressure and social stressors as well as huge hormonal changes. It can also help relax people with depression or anxiety, a growing problem among the entire population, especially teenagers. It works like this: the instructor walks participants through a specific guided meditation, relaxing each part of the body in a deliberate, methodological way. Sometimes silent mantras to oneself are also invoked. It’s almost like having an out of body experience. Practitioners can learn to walk themselves through this process as well, to “self-relax ” whenever they feel mounting pressures and stress buildup.
But what’s it all about? Yoga nidra, or ‘yogi sleep’, is officially the sleep-like state yogis attain during their meditations. Yoga nidra – or lucid sleeping – is among the deepest possible state of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness.
But how does it help with stress? We asked Sanjukta Sharma, Flex yoga instructor – who is running a workshop, Yoga Nidra For Teens, on Monday, May 12 at 7.30-8.30pm – to tell us all.
Q: How can yoga nidra help a teenager sleep better?
A: Actually, yoga nidra is not about sleeping better. Sleeping well is one of the outcomes. In fact, yoga nidra is a powerful technique and a systematic method of inducing complete relaxation, physically, emotionally and mentally. The practice helps to counteract stress. This is how it works: the instructor walks participants through a specific guided meditation, relaxing each part of the body in a deliberate, methodological way. Sometimes silent mantras to oneself are also invoked. It’s almost like having an out of body experience. Practitioners can learn to walk themselves through this process as well, to “self-relax ” whenever they feel mounting pressures and stress buildup.
Q: Why are teens so stressed?
A: Big school demands and frustrations, negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, changes in their bodies, problems with friends and/or peers at school (peer pressure), moving or changing schools or taking on too many activities or having too high expectations.
Q: Why are you running this workshop and what will involve?
A: The teenagers in my classes always asked for yoga nidra, which they felt would be a benefit for them (the teens at Flex have asked too). Recently, on a trip to Koh Sa Mui, I introduced the practice to a group of university undergraduates from the US. They loved the practice. I strongly believe that yoga therapy helps teenagers feel comfortable in their bodies and in their environment. This might have something to do with the fact that nidra is practiced lying down in the Savasana pose, instead of sitting still, which so many kids and teens find difficult to do. I will guide each participant through the simple breathing and meditative elements, allowing them to ‘let go’ and keep calm.
Q: What’s your background?
A: I was introduced to the practice of Yoga at the age of 11 and drawn to it immediately. After 15 years working in the financial services industry in India, I moved to Hong Kong. It was here I developed an interest in education and trained to be an individual needs teacher specialising in Special Education. I then worked in South Island School for 10 years. My passion for yoga inspired me also train to be a yoga teacher. I now hold a Certification of ‘yogi for the special child’. For the past seven years, I have taught yoga to teenagers, as well as children with moderate to profound special needs.