I remember being a teenager. It sucked. I was moody, unpredictable and lacking confidence. As a nonathletic teen, I was also completely disconnected from my body and very sedentary, which probably contributed to my mood swings and emotional malaise.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I could have really used some yoga. Kids and teens these days experience even more stress and pressure than my generation did – and this is why the work that Shanti Generation is doing is so important. On their new DVD, Shanti Generation: Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers, they offer a yoga practice especially for tweens and teens, to help them build confidence, strength and mindfulness.
Shanti Generation is a LA-based project “committed to cultivating a generation of peacemakers through leadership training in yoga, compassionate communication, peer-teaching and conscious social action. SGF provides young people access to empowering educational opportunities for learning critical skills to become social change agents.” The project offers classes for youth in the Los Angeles area, leadership and peacemaking training for youth, and facilitator training for qualified yoga teachers.
The DVD is lead by Shanti Generation co-founder, Abby Mills, but all of the sequences are demonstrated by teen yoga students. The DVD includes five half-hour sequences and 18 mini-sequences, as well as five breathing exercises for stress management and two mindful awareness practices. As an added bonus, the DVD includes interviews with the teens who demonstrate the poses, asking them why yoga matters to them and, even more importantly, what superhero power they’d like to have.
The language and aesthetic throughout the DVD speak to youth, yet also have a calming, mature feel. A chill soundtrack by Aaron Wills (better known as P-Nut, bassist for 311) ties everything together.
The sequences and instruction address more than the physical aspects of yoga practice, encouraging youth to make “conscious, wise choices.” For example, full-length sequences have names such as ‘Creating Happiness’ and ‘Voice Choice Possibility’ and the language used throughout is intended to create this effect. Designed for kids between the ages of 10 and 15, the practice will probably appeal to the lower end of the age spectrum.
This DVD is essential viewing for anyone who teaches yoga to youth, and is also good inspiration for any yoga-curious teen who is looking for some stress relief and confidence-building tools. As an adult, I even enjoyed the relaxation and breathing practices. Shanti Generation: Yoga Skills for Youth Peacemakers is the first in a series of innovative media designed to bring mindfulness and wellness practices to youth, and I look forward to seeing what else they have in store for young people and those who teach them yoga.