Home' Australian Yoga Life : sample issue Contents An Education for Life
a lot of them do no exercise at all.
Schoolwork, socialising and part-time
jobs take up most of their time."
Dani teaches teenagers asanas that
emphasise flexibility, such as
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward
bend), Janusirsasana (Head-to-knee
pose) and Upavista Konasana (Wide
angle pose). "Teenagers will tell you
everything they're feeling, every minute
of the class," she laughs. "If they find
something difficult, there'll be a lot of
groaning and resistance." To counteract
that, she discusses the yogic concept of
surrender. "I explain that if the mind
strongly resists a pose, the body will be
more resistant too. At first, the kids look
at me like I'm weird, but once they've
tried it, they understand what I'm
talking about. It's great to see the 'wow'
of achievement on their faces as they're
able to go deeper into a pose."
Going beyond the norm
Wayne Baseden is head of the
Department of Health and Physical
Education at Willetton Senior High
School in Perth, a large State school with
around 1800 students. "In Western
Australia, the emphasis swings towards
academic subjects in Year 11 and 12, and
there's no compulsory physical
education, but kids still need a way to
for elite athletes in cricket and diving.
In 2008, Bailey became Coordinator
of Athletic Development at Brisbane
Grammar, a private boys' school. She
noticed that popular school activities like
cricket, rowing, rugby and weight
training put a heavy load on students'
growing bodies. "I suggested introducing
a voluntary weekly session for Year 11s
and 12s, to combine strength with
mobility and flexibility," she says. It was
also an opportunity to address the
'awkward phase' that many teenage boys
go through. "Different parts of teenage
bodies grow at different rates -- central
nervous system, muscles, tendons, bones
and feel completely different from the
day before. Essentially, they have to
'relearn' to use their bodies. I felt that
yoga-based stretch classes could help."
Bailey's class emphasises sun
salutes, downward dog, standing poses
and weight-bearing poses. "I encourage
the boys to aim for the correct
placement of their heels, glutes,
shoulders and so on. Once they begin to
understand the importance of correctly
distributing the load across the body,
they can identify their weaknesses. From
there on in, their balance improves and
they can hold the poses longer."
vent their high spirits and excess energy,
particularly in stressful times like the
lead-up to exams," he says.
All of the school's 400-plus Year 11
students participate in a program called
Life Care, which aims to expose them to
facets of life outside the usual
curriculum. As part of the program,
students attend four weeks of yoga-based
stretch classes on campus, provided by a
number of teachers including Sue
Gamba. Whilst four weeks isn't long
enough to bring about obvious changes
in the students' physical abilities, Gamba
notices changes in their behaviour. "They
listen more carefully and their attention
span is longer -- even the class clowns,"
she says. "At each class they become
more interested in what they're doing
and want to take the poses to the next
level." Some students go on to enrol in
adult classes at Gamba's studio.
Boosting sports performance
While yoga classes can help improve the
strength and flexibility of sedentary
students, they're also valuable for
students who are more physically active.
Sally Bailey is a strengthening and
conditioning coach who took up yoga in
1997 after a sports injury. She found it so
useful that she began integrating yoga-
based stretching into training programs
australian yoga life • december-february 2010 7
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