Currently, yoga is more popular in Australia than pilates or aerobics, with 2.18 million practitioners. Accompanying this steady increase, yoga has started to be introduced as a health toolkit for all, including teenagers who are battling more than ever with their mental health. According to GP News (October 2019) there has been a 5.5% increase in mental health issues among young people since 2012, which means that 1 in 4 are now suffering.
Every year, Mission Australia conduct a survey of young Australians to find out their values, aspirations and concerns. Just over 25 000 young people aged 15 – 19 completed the survey in 2019. The respondents identified the top three most important issues in Australia today to be mental health (36%), the environment (34%) and equity / discrimination (25%). The respondents reported that their top three personal concerns included coping with stress (45%), school or study problems (34%) and mental health (33%). More than twice the number of females reported they were extremely or very concerned about coping with stress (58% compared with 26% of males.)
There are plenty of examples of school teachers, physiotherapists and psychotherapists across Australia, already using alternative techniques such as mindfulness and yoga to support these young people. This is not surprising, considering the significant increase in wellbeing proved by the recent EU Hippocampus Project. (More details on this at www.hippocampusproject.eu). Using the Warwick Edinburgh Wellbeing measure, adapted for young people together with other measures, the yoga intervention on 750 young people in 5 countries proved significant in several areas, among others: improved quality and quantity of sleep, decreased stress, increased social cohesion ( ie better relationships), increased focus and concentration and general wellbeing.
The Hippocampus project was initiated, designed and run by the Teen Yoga Foundation in the UK together with Oxfam Italia, YEU Belgium, Salamanca University, and NTNU, Trondheim university. The Teen Yoga Foundation has been researching the impact of yoga specifically on young people for the last 17 years. The Hippocampus project was funded by the European Union to develop and pilot a yoga programme for disadvantaged youth across 5 different countries and contexts, spanning Italy, Belgium, Norway, Spain and the UK. To find out more about the results and outputs of the programme, please click here:www.hippocampusproject.eu. The project produced the largest research sample so far outside India.
It became evident while developing and delivering the programme that the teachers certainly needed a specific training to deliver successful and apt classes to teens. It is no good delivering a regular yoga class which fails to address the specific needs of young people. The Teen Yoga Foundation has been offering courses in how to deliver yoga to teens since 2003 and in 2019, that course has been extended, deepened and designed for online learning, with our global colleagues in mind. For more information please click through to www.teenyoga.com