In the teachings of yoga, tension is experienced and released on three levels.
The first and most obvious is the physical, next the emotional and finally the mental. In parenting adopted teens it is the same thing.
Our outward manifestations of fear, stress, tension,worry, is in the physical—language, yelling, tone of voice, facial expressions.
These physical aspects are underlined by the emotional—anger, frustration, exhaustion, defeat, hopelessness. But underneath it all is the mental—our perceptions, the ideas and beliefs we hold about ourselves and our adolescents, the standards of behavior we buy into, our expectations. In order to effect change in our physical and emotional reactions to adopted teens, we must address their mental state. How is it that you see and think of your adopted teen?
Are they in general a pain in the neck? Do they never listen or do what they’re told? Do you doubt everything and think you don’t know what to do? Or do you feel confident in yourself, mistakes and all? Do you know that this too will pass?
Are you able to drop into the moment with your adolescent without focus on the past or future? Your mental state is what starts it all.
How you think of yourself, how you think of your adopted teen informs everything you do. It is this mental strain that needs releasing. Practice breathing into it. Adopted adolescents live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressures, incessant lessons, video games, malls, and competitive sports.
We usually don’t think of these influences as stressful for adopted kids, but often they are. The bustling pace of our adolescents lives can have a profound effect on their innate joy—and usually not for the better. I have found that yoga can help counter these pressures.
When adopted teens learn techniques for self-health, relaxation, and inner fulfillment, they can navigate life’s challenges with a little more ease. Yoga at an early age encourages self-esteem and body awareness with a physical activity that’s noncompetitive. Fostering cooperation and compassion—instead of opposition—is a great gift to give adopted adolescents. I believe that adopted teens can derive enormous benefits from yoga. Physically, it enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination, and body awareness. In addition, their concentration and sense of calmness and relaxation improves. Doing yoga, you exercise, play, connect more deeply with the inner self, and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds you. Yoga brings that marvelous inner light that all adopted children have to the surface. There are a few general things to know that will enhance your experience.
The greatest challenge is to hold their attention long enough to teach them the benefits of yoga: stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, peace, grace, connection, health, and well-being. Luckily, most adolescents love to talk, and they love to move—both of which can happen in yoga. Teens will jump at the chance to assume the role of animals, trees, flowers, warriors.
Your role is to step back and allow them to bark in the dog pose, hiss in the cobra, and meow in cat stretch.
Sound is a great release for adolescents and adds an auditory dimension to the physical experience of yoga. Adopted teens need to discover the world on their own. Telling them to think harder, do it better, or be a certain way because it’s good for them is not the optimal way. Instead, provide a loving, responsive, creative environment for them to uncover their own truths.