Yoga for our Young People (Younga?!*)
Young people and Yoga are rarely synonymous. As a 22 year old male myself, I wouldn’t hesitate to place a bet that I am in a minority, not just in my home country (UK) but across the globe. I touched on the fact that the current Yogic demographic (Middle-aged women – statistically speaking, not derogatorily) will be soon reaching a stage of maturity in life, which will of course mean more resources expended on keeping their passion alive. But this also raises the question: What about their kids?
This is a question that rings especially true with me as a young man (although I completely include young females in the focus of the article). How do we get people of my generation, and even younger, practicing this ancient art?
(At this point I’ve gotta mention that for school age children to benefit from Yoga, far more social change would have occur than I have scope to expand upon in this article (re arranging of school curriculum, acceptance of non-Judeo-Christianised belief etc.), so for the sake of relevance, this article is discussing young adults, we’ll say 16+ up to around 30.)
Perception: I genuinely believe that this is the only real problem that our community, and in turn our young people, have to conquer, should we wish to not only remain relevant, but to continue to expand upon our already impressive hoard of practitioners (That last sentence kinda conjures up images of a battlefield full of Lotus-posed warriors chanting “Ommmm” while keeping the armies of negativity at bay… Just me? Ok.)
But back to my point: One of my previous articles touches on some of the taboos that, in my view, surround Yoga. If anything is to be accepted by the young, at least in my experience of my generation; it must be cool. It must give some sort of social incentive. I would also include financial incentive in there as well but I know myself, and I’d hazard a guess that other yoga teachers, are not in a place to literally pay people to take their yoga classes (nor do they need to!).
For something to be considered cool, it must be handed down by a position of power, or from a perspective that is seemingly superior. Simply put, by people they look up to and respect, for whatever reason (think personal heroes & celebrities). It must also offer social proof. This point is most accurately summed up by a favourite rapper of mine; Akala. He says that boys in schools are not bothered about Maths because it doesn’t provide that social proof, or in this case ‘allow you to get girls’.
“If being good at Maths got you girls, you better believe that all the boys would be studying hard on their trigonometry”
It’s a brilliant point and perfectly sums up the idea I’m conveying.
I’m sure there are a few among you thinking “Hang on a second, why can’t we just set up Youth Yoga organisations, put pressure on local governments to increase funding for youth projects, or even just run specific under 30 classes, for example?”
That would be brilliant, but all those steps are going to be rendered folly without first improving the social aspect. We can make change on the smaller scale by encouraging our children or respective family members to take up Yoga. We can encourage them to tell their friends and families. You can by all means, run Yoga classes that are specifically aimed at young-people but if they think they’ll be uncool or ostracised – they won’t be joining you. (You might be starting to notice these articles are linked in an abstract-change-making sense).
By making small changes however, we all contribute to the global ideal, and although this article deals with certain aspects of an enormous situation, please know that even if you change one person’s opinion of Yoga, or push a friend in the direction of Self – then you are doing a great thing and I thank you for it!
If we are to get Yoga accepted by young people, then we must first make Yoga cool.
That’s the long and the short of it I’m afraid. All the thousands of years of tradition will be wasted should we fail to ignite the passion within our young people who will ultimately carry the torch into the future.
“How might we achieve that” I hear you ask! In all honesty, I think that by utilising celebrities & the media is our best bet. We can all make change on the smaller scale, by taking the steps that I mentioned above, although we must also recognise their limitations. If the change is to be continued nation, and indeed humanity-wide; then the media must change the view of Yoga that is currently presented (or shadowed as some would argue). With a view to giving it social encouragement, Yoga must be exhibited and promoted in youth media, whether on TV, on stage, but most likely online; as a viable and valuable method of self-discovery.
This in itself could lead nicely into another article about the woes of the media but I haven’t got thousands of words to explain, so to save me from going off on a tangent further, here’s my recommendation:
- Encourage young people in your sphere of influence (we’ve all got one) to engage in Yoga, or at the very least to develop a spiritual or philosophical curiosity.
- Pressure local media to showcase more of our beautiful community, in whatever medium you feel is appropriate. Whether by hosting open classes at youth clubs, showcasing Yoga at local community events etc.
- Understand that this is going to be a long process.
This idea may come to fruition in 2 years or 20, but either way, it is going to take an incredible amount of change; social, economic, and spiritual. Which is something I’m very much looking forward to, and I hope you are too.
Yogasync Me! Here’s a sweet little Yogasync for all the family!