Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are Tweenie Yoginis in Turmoil?

To be cool. To fit in. These thoughts run amok throughout the mind of a tween. Aye Hanuman, talk about a monkey mind! Recently, I have been witnessing some strife amongst my little tweenie yoginis that I teach. Usually, the energy from these kids is positive and encouraging to each other, but as my class grows in size, the diverse and unique personalities expand as well. Some of them are downright stinkers.

In a recent session, two new boys appeared to be interested in participating in class as they took off their shoes and sat down on a mat. But, as I began to talk about what we would be doing in class that evening, one of the boys spoke up and loudly said, “I don’t like this yoga stuff...I don’t want to do this”.  The second boy chimed in, “Yeah, I don’t like it either. What is the use of this yoga stuff anyway, to be peaceful and quiet?” I replied, “Yes, yoga can help you with chillin’ out and relaxing.” With a raised voice and squinty eyes, the second boy answered, “Well you ain’t gonna get any peace and quiet from over here!” He then said that he didn’t want to stay, so I allowed him to return to the Kiddy Corral. The first boy was slightly stunned-- and no longer had a partner in crime.

Another outburst: an eleven year old girl proclaimed that she did not like yoga either. I looked over to see a tween who was back for her second class. I replied, “Really? Well I am very thankful and proud of you for coming back again this week to give yoga another chance.” She dropped her head and stared at her lap. I saw a soft expression on her face but not quite a smile. I sensed that she felt good about being recognized after one class, so she became pro-yoga after that moment. I thought to myself, “What is going on? Why do the kids want to distance themselves from yoga?”

My class plan went out the door as I switched gears to try and respond to the situation brewing in class. I decided to make it a “feel good” class… who doesn’t like massages and feeling good? I pulled out the foam rollers, and the tweens gave themselves back and leg massages. We used the foam rollers with balance poses as well. They loved it!
After class, the eleven year old girl no longer had a tough expression on her face but was beaming. The first boy (the one without an accomplice) even confided in me that he “kinda liked the class, it was ok.”  I hope this child will apply some positive peer power on his friend who left, and encourage him to come back another day.

At the end of the class, my questions still were not answered. Has yoga become geeky or nerdy? Do only pansies do that stuff now? Are tweens being pressured by peers to reject yoga because it’s uncool with their age group (because their moms do it)? I am intrigued by my own ponderings on the subject and would appreciate  you posting your experiences and thoughts on tweenie yoginis.



  1. Sounds like a mob mentality kind of thing. In front of your peers it's not cool to let go and chill. But one on one they really enjoy it. Those middle school years are so tough on kids. Trying to fit in and not know how.

    I can personally vouch that your kids love you and your class! There's always a moment of dread/fear/annoyance when they walk in and I'm there not you!

  2. Thanks so much Jennifer, you are a gem! They enjoy you as well (yoga burritos?)
    Just wondering if the labeling and stereotyping of activities and sports has consumed yoga as well.

  3. I give you a lot of credit for teaching the tweenies - I don't think I could.

  4. While I don't know how it correlates to yoga, as a teacher, I see instant "dislike" towards any activity they might not succeed at. There is so much pressure on our kids to be the best at everything. Get good great, and be on honor roll. Be on student council and work your way up to captain on the sports team. When they don't, and see that they've "failed" they tend to reject the group/sport/activity they were so previously pationate about. So I would venture to guess some of the hesitation is due to fear of not being great.

  5. @MariaMedia, thank you so much for the support :). It is a challenging age-I feel that retired middle school teachers should get a life time achievement award and pension of 100% of their pay!

  6. @ Almost there- what great insight you have on the subject. This is the age where yoga could really help kids with this type of competition. You have given me some different themes to consider, to take the "being great at it" out of the picture.

  7. I have 13 & 10 year old boys & while they are positive toward yoga because they know how much I love it, I can't imagine them doing it themselves - at least right now. Not to say that it wouldn't be great for them. But it is culturally associated with girls and women, for one. Then, it is such a different paradigm than sports - this also makes it hard for them to relate to. Then, it's also completely contrary to the culture of video games, etc. that they enjoy.

    I admire you for teaching that age group - it's hard in any event but yoga is particularly difficult I think. But for the same reasons it's difficult, it will be exceptionally valuable for those kids who do "get it." I am not at all surprised that many are resistant and think that that would be true for even the best yoga teacher in the world. I have been surprised by how resistant even many of the adults that I taught were to the deeper experience of yoga - once they felt what was involved beyond exercise and stretching, they were out the door. But I always feel that in these cases, seeds have been planted and you never know what will flower in the future.

  8. "I have been surprised by how resistant even many of the adults that I taught were to the deeper experience of yoga - once they felt what was involved beyond exercise and stretching, they were out the door. But I always feel that in these cases, seeds have been planted and you never know what will flower in the future."

    Carol, these are great words and perspective. It is a long road to change behaviors, perceptions and let go of social anxiety. Ironically, these are the people who are most in need of yoga.
    Thanks for the tween support, it can be challenging some days!