TYF LogoThis week Westminster University Research Ethics Committee gave the go-ahead for the our new research project with their Psychology Department. We are going to look at the effects practicing yoga can have on young people’s stress and wellbeing. It would be great if you could join us in this project!

The aim is to get more evidence of the benefits of yoga for young people. This will be useful for yoga teachers when they talk to schools and parents, and for the Teen Yoga Foundation when we look for funding for further research. And for this we need your help.

The research project

Our research will focus on a simple “before/after” questionnaire over a six-week period with as many young people who are doing yoga as possible. The questionnaire will be accessible by mobile phone (or paper if preferred) and take about 10 minutes. They would do it at the start of the first class and again after six classes.

In order to achieve this, we need to involve as many teen yoga teachers as possible throughout the UK. If you have a group starting in January or any time in the first half of 2018, we would love you to participate in this research. (If you have more than one group, even better!)

How you can help

The process is very simple: you get in touch, we send you instructions, yoiu ask any questions you may have, and then get the young people to do the questionnaire (and do one meanwhile yourself) .


In the message, please give

  1. your name,
  2. when you start the classes, and
  3. an estimate of how many young people you can reach


We are about to start a new research project with Westminster University, and we need your help!

One of our main objectives at the Teen Yoga Foundation is to get yoga into schools and other places where young people are. We feel it should be part of the curriculum and the NHS. This would radically increase the reach of yoga and the demand for it among young people, which would be valuable for everyone, especially as Sportivate funding disappears.

Following on from our meetings in the House of Lords, MPs, civil servants and other policy makers are asking us to “prove” with research what we all know from experience, that yoga is transformative for young people. But there is a lack of really strong evidence (there are lots of small studies but no large projects in the UK so far)

However, when we go to large funding bodies to ask for funds to do this kind of work, they won’t provide them until they see stronger indications that yoga research is worth funding. So, we need to collect that initial evidence. And for this we need your help.

The research project

Our research will focus on a simple “before/after” questionnaire over a six-week period with as many young people who are doing yoga as possible. The questionnaire will be accessible by mobile phone and take about 10 minutes. They would do it at the start of the first class and again after six classes. The questionnaire will be centred on their wellbeing (and we would expect their sense of wellbeing to improve!).

In order to achieve this, we need to involve as many teen yoga teachers as possible throughout the UK. If you have a group starting in January or any time in the first half of 2018, we would love you to participate in this research. (If you have more than one group, even better!)

How you can help

The process is straightforward and simple: you get in touch, read the instructions, ask any questions you may have, and then get the young people to do the questionnaire (and do one meanwhile yourself) at the beginning of the course and after six classes.


In the message, please give

  1. your name,
  2. when you start the classes, and
  3. an estimate of how many young people you can reach


Team Bliss

At the final session of the Instill conference 2017, a wonderful group of young people, Gabe, Asher, Rebecca, Flo, Edie, Robin, and Leila spoke eloquently about thier experience of yoga, the reasons that had brought them to yoga, and the way it enriches their lives. The feedback we have received indicates that this was the most successful session of the whole day.

They had worked together to prepare the session themselves, and as a result of that process they realised they wanted to continue to work together to share their experiences and help promote yoga for young people. During the session at the conference they set out their vision for the incorporation of yoga in schools so that all young people can have access to the benefits of yoga as they have.

The group is called Team Bliss. Any young person who wishes to join is welcome to participate. You can find them on social media (Facebook and Instagram)


and they also have a webpage at

We look forward to working with Team Bliss to bring yoga to as many young people as we can.

Instill: the mat

Tomorrow is Instill! You can still book here if needs be. And you need to bring a mat!

The conference takes place at the Pimlico Academy, Lupus Street London SW1V 3AT, there is a map on the Teen Yoga Foundation website. It is within walking distance of Victoria Station and Pimlico Station. The main buses are the 24, 260 and the C10. Parking can be found on the street further down towards the river, though this is not always available it seems, and there are also car parks at Cumberland Street and Semley Place.
We have a tea break in the morning, but lunch is not provided. There are restaurants nearby, the Goya acros the road has nice tapas, and there are some in Moreton Street including a Tandoori, and heading towards Victoria, quite a range.
As you can see from the schedule we have built two workshop sessions into the day.  For a couple of these sessions we will use the auditorium, the others take place in classrooms, and therefore we have limited space for these. So to ensure that you can come to the sessions you want most you need to reserve, by sending your first 3 choices for AM and PM.
These sessions will involve participation, so wear yoga friendly clothing, and bring your mat. This will also be useful for the morning yoga session before we start at 8.
Did we say bring a mat?
Bring a mat!!!
Om om

Instill is supported by Yoga Alliance Professionals

Instill speakers: Dianne

One of the speakers at this year’s Instill Conference is Dianne Murphy, who as a secondary school teacher since the early nineties, began to teach yoga & mindfulness to teens 7 years ago.  Her strength in knowledge and delivery has grown boundlessly, teaching yoga in both mixed and single sex secondary schools and having also collaborated fruitfully with organisations including NCS and Youth Connexions.  Dianne’s current role as a Wellbeing & Mindfulness Lead at an all-boys Catholic school in North London suggests that the yoga trend amongst young adolescent males is strong, yet on the contrary Dianne tells us the attempt to make yoga appealing to this group is still very challenging. Young, disappointed male teens upon thinking of the idea of yoga, often describe it as “girly”, “touchy-feely” and “light-weight” and therefore denounce its value.  However this view shifts rapidly when they try it.  Dianne was recently asked to deliver a carousel of yoga at a residential week for a hundred and fifty year 8 boys where groups of fifteen at a time would do a 40 minute session.

“Bruv, it’s lit – you’ll love it!”

“In the morning the first groups of boys trudged reluctantly over to the field, grumbling about being ‘forced to do stupid, girly yoga’ but left with a very different opinion. By lunch time talk of yoga had spread and while the boys were eating they were asking each other what sessions they had later. We were now hearing comments such as ‘I got dat bait yoga t’ing, innit!’, ‘bruv, it’s lit – you’ll love it!’, ‘we should ask if we can have it back at school’, ‘yeah – in PE’, ‘Nah man, like every day!’”. At the end of the week when it came to ranking the activities, yoga came out as the clear favourite with over a hundred of the boys ranking it in their top three various activities

Convinced the boys? How to convince the parents…

Dianne, perhaps somewhat advantageously, is accustomed to dealing with parents from her experience as a school teacher.  Through this consequence, regular dialogue between teacher and parent is a given, and so Dianne is able to address and update parents on the benefits of yoga & mindfulness.  By explaining how it meets the need for personal wellbeing as well as social and emotional development, the schools can then also easily see where yoga & mindfulness correlates within the current Ofsted criteria for S.E.A.L and wellbeing.  This new found focus on S.E.A.L in particular means that parents are eager to know that their child’s needs are being met beyond the curriculum. However, as Dianne notes, essentially it is still the students themselves are the most effective advocates; it is their voice that best speaks of the benefits that yoga & mindfulness can bring.

An Affordable Challenge Through Free Methods

Wellbeing and mental health continues to be an important issue for boys and girls. The need for wellbeing provision is increasing year on year and is being pushed up the Schools’ agenda. Despite this obvious need, funding and school budgets are being cut making it harder to ensure that yoga & mindfulness are made accessible to students.   Dedicated practitioners such as Dianne need to continue the work they are doing in order to raise the profile and increase the recognition that yoga & mindfulness is one of the most affordable – and effective – methods of caring for the wellbeing of our youth.  If we look at how teenagers themselves challenge everything, including themselves, then this gusto for challenges needs to be met with the same fervour of our teachers and yoga practitioners.  After all, this is the generation that will take over the world! Dianne believes that if she can provide them with the tools to look after their own wellbeing, to be resilient and to be compassionate then these shining qualities will not only be enough to ensure that school budgets remain accommodating but also that these adolescents will develop into a generation of flowering positive change in the world.

Be Genuine in the Face of Computer Screens

Working with various gender and mixed groups has provided Dianne with valuable experience in how to adapt and modify sessions to best suit each group.  Gender she says becomes recognisable beyond the binary, whilst as an observer she can distinguish both the differences and the similarities between varying groups. Yet perhaps the most profound lesson on Dianne’s journey she says is to always be genuine. “That’s especially important with this age group. For one thing, they can easily spot when someone is not genuine and will respond accordingly. Secondly, they are bombarded with superficial and unreal ideals and expectations from things like media; to which they are hyper-connected. So to redress this imbalance it’s vital they encounter genuine experiences and genuine people so that they learn the value of self-worth and become confident enough to be authentic and true – valuing themselves as unique individuals”.

Dianne will be speaking in the afternoon session at Instill on Saturday. You can still book here if you haven’t already, and if you havent reserved for the parallel sessions, please mail us as soon as you can. There is limited space and they are filling up.

Instill is supported by Yoga Allliance Professionals


Instill speakers: Dr. Tina Cartwright

One of our keynote speakers at Instill 2017 is Dr Tina Cartwright, who is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster and a Chartered Health Psychologist registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC). Her research focuses on understanding the patient experience and improving the management of long-term conditions and she is currently focusing on strategies and interventions to support health and wellbeing in patients and the wider population, with a particular focus on yoga and meditation.  She has publications in a range of international health and social science journals and has recently been awarded funding to evaluate yoga interventions in the workplace and in the NHS.

At Instill, Tina will be sharing some of the initial findings emerging from the Big UK Yoga Survey, which explored the practice of yoga across the UK. The original motivation for the survey was that, despite the popularity of yoga and evidence of its positive effects on health and wellbeing, little is known about yoga practice in the UK. The survey investigated the characteristics of people who practice yoga, motivations for initiating and maintaining practice, and the perceived impact of yoga on health and wellbeing.

2434 adult UK residents who had practised yoga within the previous 12 months completed the survey. There was a wide range (18-92) and number of years of yoga practice (the average was 13.9 years). The principal reasons mentioned for being initially attracted to yoga were general wellness (39%) and fitness (19%). 47% however spoke of a change in focus over time with increased emphasis on stress management (18%) and spirituality (21%).

At Instill, Tina will be focusing especially on some results that are particularly pertinent from the perspective of young people and yoga. These include the transformative function of yoga, importance of the teacher in our yoga practice, the challenges involved in home practice etc. And of course one of the most important aspects for young people in the UK these days, mental health.

Tina will be speaking in the morning on Saturday 11th November. Please join us! You can book here!

Instill is supported by Yoga Alliance Professionals

Instill speakers: The young people themselves!

As Charlotta pointed out in a blog this week: “It is easy for policy makers, parents and teachers to have ideas of what is best for young people today but they face many challenges we can only imagine.

That makes it vital for those of us who work with young people to listen closely to what they have to say. With this in mind, we have dedicated the last session of the Instill conference to a group of young people, with ages ranging from 13 to 18, will share their perspectives on wellness, schools and yoga. The aim is to embody the spirit of teen yoga, by giving the floor to them!

Flo, Asher, Leila, Robin, Rebecca, Edie and Gabe, and Lavinia (who will not be able to be at the conference), are a heterogeneous group, one manages an all girls rugby team, another does acroyoga, on horses, one came to yoga through injury, another through dance… but we will wait till the session to hear all the details.

They met together 10 days ago in Bath to share their understandings, and do quite a lot of yoga, as you can see in the pictures, with a beautiful integration of play and rich discussion.

Out of that weekend they have put together a session that will cover a range of subjects, sharing their perceptions on aspects of yoga that they find particularly useful, and sharing with us their views on yoga and mental health, physical health, and what needs to be done to improve the presence of yoga in schools.

Join us for this session at Instill on the 11th of November. You can book here!

Instill is supported by Yoga Alliance Professionals

Instill speakers: Silvia

Silvia Giovannoni will be speaking at Instill this year, on 11th November on Yoga and creativity. We interviewed Silvia about her work.

Yoga and Creativity

 For almost 10 years Silvia has been working with teenagers as a facilitator of empowerment and creativity. Silvia says, “I embarked on this amazing journey of becoming an empowerment youth facilitator, a creative being in touch with my own creativity and sense of wonder for life again. My journey training to do this work taught me that in order to be around teenagers and for them to flourish, you need to do the work on yourself first.”

This was life-changing for Silvia and a process that brought much joy and meaning, she says,  “The transformation I experience in the young people is astonishing and this is what I’d like to devote my life to: providing youth with meaningful and transformative learning experiences that awaken them to their own sense of power and purpose in the world.”

For many years, a big part of Silvia’s work was focused on a multi-arts approach and although she used yoga and movement work, it was an area where she felt there was a lot of room for development. “In my experience, young people were going through a stage of disconnection to their bodies, and it`s a time when so many negative mental narratives can be developed. This has made me want to bring more yoga and conscious movement into the mix.”

Silvia currently teaches yoga, mindfulness and movement at schools and after school programmes and finds it so complementary to the other work she does around exploring creativity. The less stressed, more confident, and at ease the young people are with themselves the more open they are to embrace their creativity and place in the world as creative beings.

Some interesting stories

 Silvia has many interesting stories about her work. There are stories of deep transformation where young people have turned difficult situations around by engaging with creative pursuits. Silvia has also witnessed the young people’s ability for deep thinking and wisdom and there have been stories of self-acceptance after a history of self-harming and abuse; as well as examples of tremendous courage in sharing stories.

Motivation to work with young people

Silvia loves the energy, honesty and resilience of young people. She says, “They are a source of inspiration and keep me fresh and on my toes. I find that to be effective with them, I need to tend to my own creative self and speak my authentic voice. It is also rewarding to act as a mentor at times and be able to help them find their own inner light!” Silvia also loves that the work is alive, is always evolving and renewing and the fact that each group she works with has a different flavor and need; “as a teacher and facilitator, I need to be always open to respond to that. I learn so much!”

Lessons learned and shared with others

 “Both myself and my colleagues have witnessed time and time again that making opportunities for creative expression within a context of care and connection is a seemingly magical key for unlocking hope and resilience. It is not rocket science but it is powerful and in my view it is exactly these kinds of environments we should be fostering more in education and in our communities. The world needs young people who can respond to the world’s issues from a place of creative connection!”

What’s important now?

“I still feel the fields (creativity, yoga, other healing and community arts) lack the deserved presence in the typical curriculum. It is usually an after-thought, a response to crisis or one-off offerings.”

 How do you present your work to others?

“The work I do combines my experience in working with youth empowerment through the arts and the practice and teaching of yoga. They are both complementary and powerful tools to support young people find balance and a sense of belief in their own creative capacities. Yoga brings them into self-awareness and develops their inner capabilities for regulating emotions, finding focus and grounding, while the arts gives them a fantastic tool for external, authentic self-expression. The workshops and lessons I run in schools are designed with this in mind and I find the results to have a huge and positive impact.”

Like to know more? Come and listen to Silvia speak at the Instill Teen Yoga conference on 11th November. Book NOW to reserve your place.

Instill is supported by Yoga Alliance Professionals.


Instill speakers: Lucy

It is World Mental Health Day today, and since yoga can make such an important contribution to mental well being for all, it is an appropriate day to present another of our speaker at Instill, Dr Lucy Arnsby-Wilson, who will be focusing on yoga and neurodiversity.

Here is Lucy’s presentation of her session at Instill


At this years Instill, I will be sharing some of my personal practice and reflections of supporting hundreds of young people who are are neurodiverse using Yoga Therapy, You too, if you don’t already, might consider this also.

The older I get and reflect back over my childhood, the more I realise I have always been surrounded by neurodiversity and been fascinated by this. When I was 18 I began work with the sweetest boy, Daniel who had a diagnosis of Autism. I would visit him several times a week in Camberwell where I was employed as a home tutor. At this time, I was beginning my own yoga practice experiencing a profound connection to myself that I had not felt for some time. It has since been my greatest passion to learn how to and support others in accessing our inbuilt skills to keep us on an even keel. Seeing shared challenges, Daniel was the first person I shared some of the yoga  I had been practicing. The benefits were extraordinary which led me studying, practicing and sharing yoga therapy for the past 19 years! During this time I trained as a Clinical Psychologist. Therefore, many of the people I see have also experienced or are experiencing mental health problems and trauma.

In the past 5 years, I have established a CIC which is supported by a cooperative of practitioners. We offer sessions in the community, NHS, schools, yoga centres as well as training, supervision and consultation.

The power of yoga

The power of Yoga constantly amazes me and the young people that we serve. Here are some of their responses:

‘I feel calm and clever now I go to yoga. I think I was this before, I just didn’t feel it’

‘The friends I have at yoga make me know I am loved. I like coming every week. It is quiet and I learn about how I work and how I think which helps me to understand myself’.

“My shoulders and back were hurting before I came to yoga. Now my body is more flexible and this is reflected in my thinking and mind as well’.

Every story is interesting, each being unique and with everyone I work with, Yoga manages to gently find its way to the heart, creating a capacity to come inwards and then a way to pendulum between the inner and outer layers that we experience; to integration and wholeness. It is a hugely exciting time in the field as the Western evidence base starts to reflect what has been suggested and experienced for over 7000 years!

Young People and Yoga

I am motivated to work with young people because young people are just as special as everyone else in the world and it is essential for them to realise that. Because young people are brimming with untapped potential and sometimes have not connected with that, maybe because they are do not fit into their environment or have experienced traumatic experiences and terrible circumstances. Because I want the world to see each and every young person as unique, Because each young person is on their own individual journey and where it will take them can’t be predicted. I want young people to feel that their voice matters, that they matter and my experience is that yoga can really make a difference with this.

No matter what the young person goes on to do in their lives, they will take something with them that will benefit them in ways we cannot even imagine.

Sometimes this is through strengthening a connection to self awareness and self perception. It may be through supporting restful and revitalising sleep. Sometimes it can be though the development of practices which enable reduced restlessness, cultivate a sense of peace and wellbeing and reduce anxiety or low mood. It may be through the young person feeling welcomed into and part of a loving community. It can be considered subtle or profound. By holding no expectations but offering these practices from a place of invitation, trust and compassion, this work holds no boundaries

Mental Health

We must talk with parents, teachers, carers and mental health professionals about yoga; the benefits for young people, share examples, present research and create strong communities to enable us to do this effectively. However, we must not forget that they too need these practices.  We are all aware of the soaring rates of mental health problems in young people we support as well for those in adult hood.

In a recent poll on teacher wellbeing, nearly half of respondents said their mental health was poor, fuelling fears that growing numbers are struggling to cope with the profession’s changing demands. A significant proportion reported that they take medication because of their job. And the convener of a national mental health helpline has said that the demands of teaching are so exceptional that a counsellor should be stationed in every school (Hepburn, TES, 2017)

Yoga in schools

But how about this, how about an environment where teachers start and finish the day with 10 minutes of meditation, where students and teachers practice yoga together, finding what unites us rather than divides.  I often share with them a wonderful programme ‘Get Ready To Learn’ that we piloted in schools here in Gloucestershire for 4 years. The programme requested young people with autism and their teachers practice a yoga DVD programme everyday for 12-20 minutes. Following an inset training programme and taking part in the programme on a daily basis, after 12 weeks those who attended improved concentration, attention, self regulation and feelings of well-being-and this was the young people and the teachers!


It is time to reconsider the way in which is assess, diagnose and define the problems that young people are experiencing as this leads to the care, interventions and programs that we offer. The lens of what is wrong with someone appears to have been adopted in the West. Yogas starts with what is right with someone (Cope, 2011). The more we can develop an awareness of our own internal landscape, how to manage conflict, distress and despair there, the more we can do this within our community and our society-and never has our world needed this peace more.

It is a great pleasure to be contributing to Instill and the work of the Teen Yoga Foundation, an inspiring event where we can empower young people, in all their diversity to come together.

Instill is supported by Yoga Alliance Professionals

Run for us at the Bath Half!

Since 2003 Teen Yoga has been supported by Sport England, since they value the clear connection between yoga and physical activity, and the way yoga encourages young people, especially those not attracted to other sports, to move their bodies more and become fit and healthy in mind and body. To honour the transition from lethargy to activity that yoga promotes, we have been granted 5 spaces on the Bath Half Marathon 2018 for runners who wish to raise £500 each to support our work.

We are looking for people who would like to run for the Teen Yoga Foundation in the Bath Half on 4th March 2018


In addition to the work we do continuously, supporting the teen yoga community and promoting it in Parliament and other policy forums, this year we are focusing especially on collaboration with other charities who work respectively with homeless youth, at risk youth and those who have been excluded from schools. All this work needs support. There are over 20 people who work voluntarily for our charity, but we also need financial resources to carry on working. Please help us help those who can change the future of this country, one young person at a time.

Run for us at the Bath Half!


  1. Sign up for your place as an affiliated runner with the Teen Yoga Foundation and pay £45 entry fee – do this this week.
  2. Start training, with help from the training pack which we will send you.
  3. Start raising funds, which we will support you with.
  4. Come and stay with us outside of Bath on the day.
  5. Run the Bath Half!
  6. Feel fabulous!

Come on board, make a huge difference to your mind and body and to those who are yet to discover the connection between the two!

Our Bath Half runners also have the chance to attend Instill 2017 free.

Tickets to Instill can be booked here.