Teen Yoga Foundation Conference- London, 10th November 2018


I was honoured to be asked to photograph the TeenYoga Foundation yearly conference this November at Friend’s House, Euston. Many people from different backgrounds and specialties attended, but all had one aim and interest, which was bringing yoga and mindfulness into all young people’s lives by normalising it as a natural, everyday practice to help maintain wellbeing.

Many of the attendees had already undertaken the TeenYoga Teacher Training, which is a course that allows professionals such as teachers, therapists, support workers, and anyone without a formal yoga teaching qualification, to teach teenagers the amazing practice of yoga and mindfulness in schools. 

The day kicked off with three informative talks including those from Netia Maymen, “Shining the light of yoga on schools,” TeenYoga Founder Charlotta Martinus, and Nick Kearney speaking about his Westminster Research and EU project findings that illuminate the positive impact of teaching yoga to teenagers. The research highlights how yoga and mindfulness improves young people’s levels of resilience, which then positively impacts their overall wellbeing and happiness.

I spent the day feeling so inspired by being part of this amazing event and my ability to document it was such an honour. From start to finish, the day was packed with inspirational talks and workshops, all of which were at a truly high standard as set by the high calibre of professionals leading them. The workshops provided a great insight into the different areas of expertise these professionals engaged in with teenagers by supporting them through yoga and mindfulness. Their areas of work ranged from supporting those with ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders and youth offenders, to those working to engage boys in the practice, and helping children to transition from primary to secondary school. 

The on average 30% cut in CAMHS funding over the last 3 years, means that schools are left to deal with something that they are ill-equipped to manage.
— Charlotta, Founder

The last part of the day was a talk consisting of a panel of four teenagers from Team Bliss, who talked about their experiences of yoga and mindfulness, and how adult teachers can best approach teens by keeping them engaged and interested in the benefits of the practice. The panel of young people, led by Robin, are championing the positive practices of yoga and mindfulness, and are giving teenagers a direct voice by speaking out and sharing its positive impact with other young people. They spoke mainly upon the topic of social media and how it can cause a negative impact on their happiness and self-concept. They explained how practicing mindfulness and yoga in their own experience have really helped their ability to deal with stresses in teenage life, which is now very much integrated into an online world. 

These young people have the ability to share their own experiences of how yoga and mindfulness benefits them to professionals and institutions also, so having TeenYoga Foundation working alongside them is a perfect partnership in supporting each other to achieve their shared goal.


THE FOUNDER 

TeenYoga Founder, Charlotta Martinus, has 15 years experience of working with school leaders, teachers, counsellors and yoga teachers to help bring yoga to young people in schools. Not only that, she is helping to really drive the message forward about the need for all young people to access this.

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Charlotta was invited to speak about this in the Houses of Commons just this week, and she was able to provide clarity through rigorous research that she and teams of professionals have been conducting on the outcomes of yoga and mindfulness for teenagers across the UK.

Charlotta’s vision with the TeenYoga Foundation is for yoga to be readily available in each school to reduce the incidences of mental health issues and improve young peoples’ wellbeing. She see’s this as involving important cost savings for the the NHS, the education system and other areas such as social services.

I used to mention yoga as a possibility to the issues facing schools, now I state it as an obvious solution and they listen.
— Charlotta, Founder

We at Here are also working to bring mindfulness and yoga to families and children, and it is so admirable to see the work that TeenYoga Foundation does, which is supported by funds from their teacher training course. 


TEENYOGA FOUNDATION TEACHER TRAINING 

TeenYoga Foundation runs their own training courses which are directed towards healthcare professionals, yoga teachers, school teachers, parents and anyone working with young people.

Charlotta Martinus launched this course for the first time in 2004, in response to the growing need to care for young people and give them respite from stress and anxiety. Charlotta reflects during her training on how people are becoming more aware that young people are increasingly anxious, stressed and lacking self-esteem, and that we need to work together to improve that! 

We play, cry and laugh as we remember how tough this period can be and as we examine research around how many mental health issues in middle age have their root in adolescence (75%!)
— Charlotta, Founder

The TeenYoga Course will train you to teach yoga and mindfulness to young people. It has been constructed with the help of specialist adolescent Neuroscientists, Anatomists, Psychologists and Yoga Teachers. It is now taught in several continents across the world. Approx. 2-3 students on each course are funded either by their council, school or NHS dept.

For more information about their courses and dates click here.


HOW CAN I HELP? 

Just as schools budgets are being stretched, TeenYoga Foundation lacks funding too. They are looking for support from the National Institute of Health Research, who have declared they can help fund the research itself, however they will not support the actual Yoga Class teaching as well. This is fundamental to the research, so upon reading this, if you are able to inform Charlotta of any appropriate funding avenues she and the Foundation can take, then please get in touch with the Foundation here.

Charlotta also wrote a book “Teen Yoga For Yoga Therapists” and has some Mood Cards to help understand and work with teens. See them both on the Things We Love page on my HERE site.

Lets all work together to raise awareness about the great need for all young people to be offered this support, not only for themselves but on a societal level too. It is becoming ever clearer that yoga can help us all, so let’s continue to do our best to ensure this becomes part of every single child’s life here in the UK and beyond.