Monthly Musing – January 2019 – Pause for thought

Big daughter has left one of her text books on the table. It’s a book about yoga for teenagers and she’s been reading it as reference for a university essay she’s writing about reducing stress. I wasn’t impressed by yoga when I was a teenager. My Mum was a yoga teacher which may have had something to do with it as I was a bit of an awkward so and so as many teenagers are, but I liked to move faster; I liked squash and badminton, I wanted to be out on my bike or walking, not stretching oh-so-slowly.

Now that I’m older and have found my own yoga class (I’m surprised that my Mum hasn’t fallen off her cloud laughing at all the things I do now which I refused to do when I was younger), I can see the benefits of stretching oh-so-slowly. I have seen my flexibility improve, I have impressed myself with my downward dog (aren’t mirrors in studios a marvellous thing?!) and I have learnt to quiet my mind so that I can turn down the noise of the day and remember who I am. I can see exactly why our teenagers need the option of a yoga class, even as I can remember being that teenager who would have refused to go.

It does make me wonder how else we can help our youngsters reduce some of their stress. Traditional lessons which take away some of the strain, such as art, music, drama and textiles, no longer have a full-time place in school curriculums and always the emphasis is on learning more, working harder, getting better results. Conversations never stop thanks to social apps (although these are also immensely useful when small daughter suddenly remembers that she had homework that she’s lost the handouts for), TV shows are constantly on tap and the snapshot moments of social media make us think that we less than we are.
We hide our real lives behind a carefully staged photograph; for me it might be clutter that I’d rather not show, but for others it can be mental anguish as they compare themselves to something that’s not real and show a happy face when deep inside their own reality is much more painful. And this is not just the reality for our teenagers. All of us, from tiny tots to the oldest in our society, are living with stress on a daily basis when all of the technology and social advances of this century should surely mean that our lives have become easier.

So what’s the answer? If we knew that nobody would be stressed, but if we could only discover what helps to reduce our stress then we could start by doing more of it every day. It’s going to be different for everyone: meditation, knitting, yoga, running, singing – it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it works, and as long as it’s something that we can encourage our children to do as well. Stress may be a symptom of modern society, but traditional activities may be what we need to deal with it. Will we ever see every teenager encouraged to take up yoga? I don’t know, but it’s better for them to have the opportunity and turn it down than never to be offered at all – along with all the subjects in schools that are now not deemed academic enough for a curriculum slot. We seem to have forgotten that it’s OK to switch off from time to time but I think it’s something that it’s vital that we remember, and before it’s too late.

Coincidentally, we were sent the link to this letter to send to our MP to support the new APPG Yoga in Society and in particular in schools.  Feel free to send it to your MP as well if you’d like to.

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13 Responses

  1. happy hooker says:

    How right you are. I always feel sorry for those children whose lives are "timetabled" to the nth-degree. Every waking moment is filled with this activity or that club. No time to just be. To read, draw, create or just daydream. Hopefully there are enough parents/grandparents/teachers etc around to encourage youngsters to explore what makes them feel happy and relaxed. Moan over – off to do a bit of yarny relaxing myself. xxx

  2. Poppypatchwork says:

    I sit and knit, I'm left alone and therefore I enjoy the peace as well as the creating side, everyone knows to stay away when I'm knitting. It's almost like being in a glass house, I can see what I want to and ignore the rest.

  3. Helen says:

    I can't agree more. Same with US schools. Things like vocational training (wood shop, mechanics, agriculture) and home economics (sewing, cooking, child care) besides art are often first to be axed. My brothers were wizs in the shop classes. My oldest brother build a metal lathe from basic materials! I took home ec and art classes. Some of the classes are recreational, but still needed for expression (art) and I don't begrudge my mother making me take typing (when computers came in I could keyboard with outlooking at the keys or monitor and it floored my students) or home ec and I loved art. I think every student should have to take a basic woodworking class and basic home ec. We all need to be able to drive a nail in straight and cut a piece of wood, sew on a button and cook a decent meal. They are life skills and some kids not only need them, (I had parents that were more than prepared to provide all those skills in our house, lol) but excel at them, where they feel less than confident in the 'academic' classes. It is part of being the 'whole' person and a life long learner. Okay, enough soap box. 🙂

    • Orris Family says:

      I totally agree with you! I didn’t take home ec in high school because I was “college bound”. Those are important life skills! Now I’m a stay at home mom and wish I would have taken those classes

    • Craftyshirley says:

      I have done Pilates the last few years now my daughter's and there daughter's do it together. We need time to relax. The world pace is to fast the children of today don't do crafted as much. I get kids look at me because I take my knitting where ever I go wondering what I am doing.

    • Susan Rayner says:

      Could not agree with you more! So many of these wonderful skills are just not being passed on any more and school would be a great place to encourage students to learn life skills they will regret not knowing in the future! How many students leave home not being able to cook a basic meal or sew on a button! And those classes were so enjoyable too – a real break from the academic treadmill which we had even in the 60s!!

  4. Ella says:

    My thoughts exactly. An IT job may pay for a huge house but to make it a home you need to know how to cook a meal and enjoy it with family and friends, and how to make a blanket to cuddle under on the sofa with your loved ones and a cuppa and a good book.

  5. Unknown says:

    As a mental health first aid course instructor (who knits, crochets, sews, embroiders, etc as part of my own self care) I can promise we are working on encouraging young people to do what they need to do to self-care. It helps if parents lead the way, so even if they rebel in their youth they may return in later life. We have startedthe movement.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Brilliant! We really need to get the message out so if you've got a website that I can link to then do let me know as I'll be very happy to share it xx

  6. bobbieliz says:

    What you have said here is so thoughtfully laid out, which may help a parent who is reading this suddenly realize that her child may be in that whirlwind of overdoing activities (and perhaps doing them because it is expected by her parents who hope she will get into the “right” college.)

  7. Carrie says:

    I think all of us reading this will agree with you wholeheartedly.Childrens brains are never allowed to switch off. I asked my 13 year old granddaughter why children are so stressed, and she instantly answered, 'social media'.

  8. Julie says:

    We have a rule here of no TV or tablet etc when my 7 year old granddaughter is here and it works well. We have lots of fun doing other things when we have to be inside. Yoga is fabulous as is tai chi.

  9. Janet says:

    I enjoyed yoga and pilates in my 30/40s and didn't do anything til my 60s ( now) and that is Tai Chi. I live it so much but do you think I can get my 36 yo daughter interested? It seems the younger set feel its for " the oldies". How wrong they are but you can't tell them.

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