For many teens, yoga is a great exercise and stress-reliever. But as 14-year-old Lexi Hidalgo is learning, it’s a great entrepreneurial platform, too. The Delray Beach, Florida, native is one of the country’s youngest certified Yoga and Stand Up Paddleboard instructors. Her positive, attention-grabbing daily Instagram posts reach 4,000 followers.
The cheerleader-turned-yogi discovered yoga while accompanying her mom to a heated class. “Yoga completely calmed me down and changed my life,” says Hidalgo. “A lot of people judge others at school. Yoga taught me to feel comfortable within my own skin.”
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Hidalgo teaches a monthly Teen Vinyasa class at Ivivva of Boca Raton and is instructing at Kids’ SUP camps this summer.
Recently, athletic apparel brand, LunaJai, tapped her to be a brand ambassador. “Social media has helped me to build myself up. Before I started yoga, I couldn’t talk in person. Now, I post whatever I want to with confidence. Without Instagram, I wouldn’t have all the opportunities that are coming,” Hidalgo says.
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Like the ocean waves she resides by, yoga naturally flowed in to ninth-grader Kaya Hughes’ life. The teen, based in Encinitas, California, clicked with the practice two years back and lobbied a local studio to enter its teacher training program. “I didn’t know if girls would like how I taught, but over time I felt more comfortable and my teaching skills improved,” Hughes says.
Also a guitar player, Hughes’ music playlists set her yoga classes apart. “I wanted to use music that I listen to and connect with teens,” she says. She named her “Teen Spirit” class after Nirvana, for example.
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Hughes promotes her yoga work and lifestyle on Instagram, where she’s amassed 2,000 followers. “I use social media to share quotes I like and to connect with other girls my age who practice,” Hughes says. The yogi trendsetter has also caught the eye of activewear brand, Teeki, jewelry companies, and flash tattoo lines like Tats4Now, for whom she’s a brand ambassador.
While such attention has its perks, “I don’t see myself building on this. I’m interested in making my own music for yoga classes,” says Hughes, who is inspired by Bob Marley, Souljah, Foo Fighters, Michael Franti, and The Cure. As she continues her personal yoga journey, “I have a positive outlook, am super confident in who I am, and mindful of what’s right and wrong. I think I’ve helped people to come out of their shell, which is why I love yoga so much,” she says.
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Skyler Dearen can take the heat. At just 15 years old, the country’s youngest Yoga Alliance-registered hot yoga instructor treks a bold, heart-guided life path. A yogi since age 7, Dearen’s passion for the fiery practice was inspired by her single mother, a yoga teacher-turned-owner of the Radiant Hot Yoga studio, in Newport Beach, California.
“Yoga totally changed our lives. We’ve had hard times. Hot yoga offers an amazing emotional release. You get in to that hot room, sweat it out and let it go,” says Dearen, who completed a teacher training in 2013. “We trained in 105 degree temperature for weekends on end. I didn’t think I could physically and mentally do it, but jumped in,” says the ninth-grader. Her first time teaching a group of forty? “I walked in there and gave it all I had. You have to go for it and stay fearless to be that vessel for your students,” says Dearen, admitting she was nervous.
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After a family exploration trip to Thailand last year, Dearen made another gutsy life choice. “I decided I wanted to be homeschooled so I could do more yoga,” says Dearen, whose mom supported the switch. Dearen now attends an online, self-study program through Brigham Young University. She says she’s able to pull A’s and B’s, while taking or teaching yoga twice daily and has transitioned easily to her new routine. “All of my school friends come to my classes and we still hang out. I’m close with everyone at my studio. We’re a huge family,” she says.
Dearen chronicles her love of nature and sense of adventure on Instagram, growing her online following to over 2,000. Dearen dreams of opening up her own studio one day and hosting yoga retreats worldwide. She plans to inspire more teens to try yoga, too. "It’s such an amazing gift,” she says.
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Erika Prafder is a veteran writer and product reviewer for The New York Post and the author of a book on entrepreneurship. A long-time yoga enthusiast and Hatha yoga teacher, she edits KidsYogaDaily.com, a news source for young yogis. The working mother of three resides in a beach community in Long Island, New York.