When you say the word “yoga”, most people’s thoughts go straight to green juice, leggings, and the pretzel body shapes that grace yoga magazine covers. Yoga is often touted as a workout, with a dazzling amount of options from hot yoga to goat yoga. But yoga can be an incredibly powerful tool for teens struggling with mental health issues, like anxiety. It turns out that yoga is much more than buying some spandex and burning incense.
Can Yoga Improve Anxiety?
Yoga has become widely practiced in the United States with growth to more than 20 million people since 2002. The physical postures, or asana, may be the part of yoga we most easily recognize, but there are actually eight limbs of yoga. Two of these limbs are pranayama (breathing) and dhyana (meditation). Asana encourages the student to be present in the body and experience sensations as they come. This paired with breathwork, which can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, and meditation, which allows students to become aware of and track their thoughts, can be used to help people with anxiety.
A recent study from NYU found that “yoga was significantly more effective for generalized anxiety disorder than standard education on stress management, but not effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the gold standard form of structured talk therapy that helps patients identify negative thinking for better responses to challenges.” With anxiety affecting an estimated 6.8 million Americans, yoga can play an important part in a medical professional’s treatment plan. It is widely available and provides an option for anxiety management for those who are looking to avoid medications.
Yoga and Mindfulness at Trails Carolina
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a key part of the curriculum at Trails, helping students to expand their capacity to manage stress in a healthy way. MBSR includes grounding techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, mindful movement, and thought-stopping techniques to help students develop a deeper sense of control over their body, actions and internal processes.
Students are regularly encouraged to tune into their senses, pause, and strengthen their mental capacity to be still and content without constant distractions. These mindfulness techniques are shared with both students and parents, who can use it as a valuable parenting and coping strategy.
Trails Carolina Can Help
If your teen is struggling with anxiety, and you would like yoga to be a part of their treatment plan, Trails Carolina can help. Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program was founded with a singular goal – to help families reconnect, heal, and thrive. Over the years, our approach has been shown to produce lasting, positive outcomes, delivering on that mission.
Each child that enters our campus is unique and brings their own needs and challenges. Immediately, we get to work making sure they receive the support they need, starting by introducing them to their single-gender, age-appropriate group they’ll be growing with. These groups are led by experienced, licensed therapists who specialize in working with youth who fit their group’s profile exactly – and it shows. We also work to keep parents engaged along this powerful journey, empowering them to support and communicate effectively with their child when they return home. For more information please call (828) 469-0715.