This months instructor profile comes to us from Colorado. Reed Holden is a working with teens at the High Mountain Institute. Our CEO met Reed recently, and wanted us to share her inspiring work with our readers. Thank you Reed for allowing us to share your story.
In my work I’m surrounded by teenagers each and every day—which means that I’m surrounded by their hopes, their discoveries, their stresses, and their anxieties. Being a teenager today is so very different than it was when I was growing up. Between intense academic environments and the overwhelming social pressure to be plugged in 24/7, life can feel like a stressful blur. Luckily the school where I work (the High Mountain Institute, nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains) is rooted in connection to nature and intentional community—two potent antidotes for the stress of the modern teen. However, we are also a semester school—an experience much like studying abroad in college—which means that these students are only with us for four short months. Because it’s fleeting, it’s important that we frame each lesson as something that’s transferable: in other words, how can students bring home the leadership, self-awareness, and grit they learn in the wilderness and use it for good in the world?
And so, it is this environment that has given rise to my passion for teaching yoga to teenagers. Yoga’s lessons, I have found, also need to be transferable—because these lessons can only expand exponentially when we integrate them into our lives off of the mat. Each semester I choose to teach a 3-part yoga series to our students. In each hour-and-a-half session students explore asana, meditation, and pranayama to grow their awareness of yoga and of themselves. My intention? To give them tools they can use to navigate stress and create space for living more fully.
I love helping students make connections between what might come up in a particular pose to something that might come up in their life. For example, poses like Triangle requiring work on both the left and right sides offer an opportunity to check in with ourselves. Just because you didn’t use a modification on the left side doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use one on the right side; take a moment to check in with yourself to see what you might need, and notice what it feels like to stop operating on a default setting. And then take this off the mat: just because you didn’t ask for help on last week’s assignment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help on this week’s assignment; learn to check in with yourself to see what you might truly need.
Another one of my favorite things to teach to teens is the three-part breath—that we can change our body’s stress response on a physiological level just by breathing blows my mind! It’s such a simple yet useful tool for teenagers to employ when approaching a demanding test, a difficult conversation, a busy schedule, or a list of things to do.
When I completed my 200-hour teacher training I was unsure if I wanted to teach or not. However, bearing witness to the many gifts yoga can offer teens has nudged me toward my next step: pursuing training that is specific to teaching this demographic. Teenagers are at such a receptive stage of their life, and I want to help them learn how to extract the richness from the world around them. I’m convinced that yoga is an incredible means to this never-ending end.
Do you have a yoga teacher that inspires you? Reach out and let us know. We would love to send some love to instructors all over the world.
Share this post: