This Month




In a schools culture such as ours, in which the qualification is everything, it is understandable that the exam period is a time when students may feel anxious, nervous, stressed, or scared and possibly a little lost.  We all know how that feels.  In yoga we have the tools to help teens face the trials of this period.

On the yoga mat, we can bring calm, stability and ease into every pose and thus bring a sense of awareness and grounding into the practice.  There are strength and surrender elements in every pose.  The balance between the two actions is what makes yoga such a unique and powerful form of fitness:  it accentuates strength and grace, stability and flexibility, hard and soft, so that your entire body is engaged in a balanced way. This balance is key in this period but in addition to this, we can develop a quiet, fully present mind through the breath.  By creating a rhythmic flow of breath, we calm both body and mind.

Teens can use their breath to create the stability (Sthira) and ease (Sukha) they need both on the mat and off the mat as well.  If they notice they can’t seem to catch their breath or the breath is becoming quite shallow due to stress or anxiety, it may be an indication that they are straining to overcome resistance and tension.  By gently and patiently bringing a focus to breath, whether in the study room, or the exam room, the resistance subsides.  Very similar to how some yogis feel in a long-held chair pose!

For the month of May, we bring you resources to use that allow you to help your students create a calm, steady mind and body, particularly as they come into exam season. We have gathered practices that are simple to use, yet effective. They can give teens the confidence and courage to overcome their exam fears.




It took a long time, we had organised it several times but Brexit and then COVID pushed it back. But finally on 19th October we had our drop-in event at Parliament, where we had the chance to explain the benefits of yoga in schools, healthcare and youth provision to MPs.
The event was a valuable way to continue the conversation with MPs about our work and the benefits for young people. Though it was a complicated day in Parliament we had some very rich and fruitful conversations. We will be posting video of the event soon, but meanwhile here are two resources that may be useful the first is the presentation we used, the second is a document we gave out to MP
MPs about the benefits and cost-effectiveness of yoga, please feel free to share with your MP. We are also happy to meet with MPs who are interested.
If you do share with your MP we’d be grateful if you could drop us a line to Nick at, telling us which MP and constituency you have contacted.
Please let us know if you have any questions/suggestions.



“Exams are a fundamental part of every British teenager’s life. The pressure to do well at an allotted time in a specific way, to jump through hoops that might lead to some kind of success later on, is a complicated set of thought processes at the best of times, let alone at a time when our prefrontal cortex is playing hide and seek!

It seems clear to me from experience as a teacher, but also as a parent, that a calm, collected mind, with optimal emotional support, does better, on average, than one without that scaffolding.

So, if we just break down what happens during exams, we can see how exactly we can support the process with yoga. Passing an exam means planning, focusing in class, being able to keep emotions in check and calming the mind to focus it on your task in hand. On the way, many temptations need to be resisted and the prefrontal cortex will need to do a lot of growing. One of the main issues facing many young people who have difficulty studying is the ability to stay on topic and not wander over a period of two years. The other difficulty for many is the rising interest in sex as well as partying and all that that entails. Remaining grounded and on track is essential and easier for those who have a firm and solid attachment at home or with someone significant in their lives, who can hold and care for them through this tumultuous time. For those who do not have this, I firmly believe that yoga could fulfil that function to some degree, by creating a safe and functioning practice that allows the student to connect deeply with their own calm, that gives them an opportunity to learn about disciplining the mind and the body, and which guides and supports them through life with wisdom.”

(from Teen yoga for Yoga Therapists by Charlotta Martinus)

Here is some advice for students before an exam:

Before an exam – sleep well

  • Eat well (lots of veg, lots of water; not too much sugar, as sugar can cause mental confusion).
  • Don’t drink coffee or alcohol or eat sugar after supper (even better, avoid them altogether if you can).
  • Sleep at regular times, bed around 30–10 pm and up at around 7 am (teens need 8–10 hours’ sleep at night).
  • Do Ujjayi (Darth Vader) breath for ten minutes in the
  • Switch off any screens at least an hour before
  • Have a chamomile/limegrass/valerian tea one hour before Have a hot bath with lavender or chamomile essential oils before bed.
  • Massage yourself slowly with warm almond oil (pop it on the radiator) together with lavender drops (failing that, both almond oil and sesame oil that you get from the food shop are fine; don’t go for vegetable, sunflower or olive oil as they smell pretty bad!).
  • Make sure your room is cool and clean with fresh air and your bed is warm and
  • Read something inspiring before bed for a few
  • Top tip: You  retain  information  in  rapid  eye  movement  (REM) sleep    between  1 am  and  4 am  –  if   your  sleep is disturbed or not of good quality, you will not remember what was learned!

Some exercises to do during the exam period

To relieve stress

  • Chair posture (affirmation: I am calm).
  • Twist in chair (affirmation: I am rooted).
  • Warrior (make the bend in the knee deep) (affirmation: I am a warrior).
  • A quick sun salutation, if you have time (affirmation: I am ready).

For focus

  • Balancing postures – dancer (affirmation: I am focused).
  • Tree (affirmation: I am rooted and balanced).

For tension-release

  • Shoulder release – more dancer or clasping hands on lower back and forward bend, ujjayi breath and lift arms as high as they can
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Hands on hip bones, arch back both ways, cat cow – several
  • Side bends with hands above the head – stretch arms above the head, lift the right arm and hand and tip over to the left, hold for a count of ten and do the other Once each side, slowly.


Breath exercises

To do outside the exam hall or just before

(Do these standing up)

Focusing breath, anuloma viloma:

Breath in for a count of four through the left nostril, and out for eight or four, through the right nostril, and then in four right, out eight left, carry on for as long as it is comfortable (5 – 10 mins)

Breath in three steps

Imagine a ladder – breathe up each rung, one at a time, pause ion between and then breathe out ujjayi breath (Darth Vader sound, like when you close the back of your throat a little to make a hissing sound). Do this for about five minutes or more if you like. If you feel dizzy or uncomfortable then stop.

Lion’s breath, to feel courage.

Tense your whole body and face as you inhale and then let out a roar as you stick out your tongue, open your eyes wide and open hands – do this several times.

A visualisation for exams

Imagine yourself sitting at the desk in the exam hall (have a look at the hall first if you can). You are completely quiet and still; bring your awareness to the feet – feel as if they have roots in the ground, growing roots downward , drawing inspiration from the earth (what does inspiration flowing through you look like?), calm belly and a golden light infuses you with wisdom and you confidently and fully answer each question. Imagine the clothes you will be wearing, the table where you will be sitting, the pen that you will use and how you feel, completely confident. Spend some time working out how it feels to be confident, and if you don’t feel confident, imagine you do!

Know that your mind can be your ally and your enemy, depending on you.. What thoughts are you entertaining? We all have thoughts like “I am not good enough, I am an imposter, I am just faking it”. But we also have thoughts like “I know this stuff, I am intelligent, I can do this,  I have studied hard and I can do my best here and now”.

Which thought is best to choose? If you have difficulty with unwanted thoughts, it can sometimes help to have a song, a mantra or just a sentence in your head that brings you back to a positive state of mind – mine used to be I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor! But now I use a an even more positive mantra – om : if you just repeat the sound A-O-U-M with each outbreath quietly in your mind, it will empty your mind a little and then you can refocus.


Lastly, here are some sequences that you can do while you are in  the exams period:

For study focus

For good sleep

Just before the exam

And after the exam

To finish, a light visualisation



I bought some meditation cushions yesterday.

I have a little button, a”widget”, in my web browser from an organisation called Give as you Live.

Before buying the cushions I clicked on the button, then carried on as normal.

Later I received a message saying, “you have raised £2.21 for the Teen Yoga Foundation”. It was that easy.

Over 2000 people see this page each month, if you all clicked it would quickly add up!

As Christmas comes you may be making online purchases, if you set up the Give as you Live button, then the places you buy from will make donations (the percentage varies) to us.

All you have to do is click on the button! We would really appreciate it, as every donation helps!

If you are interested

You first need to sign-up.  Go to ‘Give As You Live’ by clicking HERE and choose Teen Yoga Foundation as your chosen charity.  Then, you just need to enter a few details about yourself and you’re all set to start raising free funds!

Once you’ve signed-up, download the Donation Reminder “widget” to your browser.  When you visit a participating online store (there are thousands),you click on the widget and it asks if you want a percentage of your purchase to raise money for us.  You click ‘yes’ and shop as you normally would.

You won’t typically see anything different on the store’s website, but as long as you’ve clicked on the widget, they’ll know you’re a ‘Give As You Live’ online shopper.

And thats it!  They will email you to let you know how much has been raised.

Why not try it now? 

Register HERE.