The pressure make good grades, excel in extracurricular activities, and be popular among peers can make the teenage years an extremely stressful time—so it’s no wonder that teens are turning to yoga to help them cope. Three California teens have taken this a step further, enrolling in a 200-teacher training program with the goal of sharing the practice with their classmates.
“School was really stressful, but yoga helped get rid of that,” says 13-year-old Kaya Hughes. “I decided I wanted to teach other teens my age yoga to help them get rid of the stress from school.”
Kaya, along with friends 12-year-old Jaysea Devoe and 14-year-old Rachael Stern, are the youngest students to enroll in a teacher training at Soul of Yoga in Encinitas, California. And we only know of one other teacher in the country who is younger.
But how can someone so young learn to guide others in a practice that’s both physical and spiritual?
The decision to let the girls enroll in the training wasn’t an easy one for Soul of Yoga teacher training director Flossie Park, who said she was concerned that some of the material wouldn’t be age appropriate and worried having teenagers in the training could be a distraction for the adult students. But, so far, they’ve been a great asset to the training, she said, noting that their age gives them a unique perspective on the practice.
“These teenagers have become the teachers in our training,” said Park. “They have such insight, especially to what their peers are dealing with. But the most astonishing thing is that they really relate to the yoga philosophy we discuss and how it changes people’s lives, including their own.”
“I could tell in these three girls that something just lit up in them,” adds Soul of Yoga teacher Lindsay Russo. “I just think about how much I wish I had known about yoga when I was their age.”
The five-month training continues through February of next year, which is when the girls will be able to register officially as teachers.