(BPT) - Getting a teenager an appointment with a mental health professional right now is like trying to get tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. Basically, it’s impossible.
It’s no wonder that the U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a rare public health advisory calling for “a swift and coordinated response” to address this growing crisis.
The pandemic and related issues have been incredibly hard on teenagers. Counseling is an essential tool. But it may take more than one approach to help our kids recover from over a year of social isolation, loss of routines, and traumatic grief.
Kundalini Yoga teachers around the world have been connecting with and healing at-risk youth through Kundalini Yoga for decades. This is an established model that works. Studies show that Kundalini Yoga can significantly reduce anxiety and depression, which, according to the Surgeon General’s advisory, have doubled during the pandemic, with 25% of youth experiencing depressive symptoms and 20% experiencing anxiety symptoms.
Kundalini Yoga is a simple solution that can be practiced at home and can make a real difference.
Here’s a Kundalini exercise from 3HO, a global nonprofit dedicated to sharing the teachings of Kundalini Yoga, that you can practice along with your child anywhere, anytime.
The One Minute Breath
This is a great technique to calm your mind that has been used by yogis for millennia. Have you noticed that when you are anxious, your breath rate increases? Well, the opposite is true too: when you slow your breath, your mind relaxes.
How to do it:
Sit in a comfortable position. Inhale for 20 seconds, hold for 20 seconds, exhale for 20 seconds.
It sounds easy, right?
It’s harder than it seems, and you will have to work up to it. If you find yourself struggling against your breath, complete the breath and then begin one minute of deep breathing. After a minute, start again with the timed breath, gently and steadily. Most of the value comes in intentionally breathing, purposefully breathing, rather than automatically breathing.
Now, let’s begin.
Get settled in your comfortable position. Be very still. Once you’re set, take a few minutes to relax your body and deepen your breath.
Inhale slowly and steadily. Imagine the air filling your lower abdomen, then your stomach area, and finally drawing into your lungs and then all the way up your chest.
Give yourself permission to work up to 20 seconds. Start inhaling for 10 seconds, holding for 10 seconds, exhaling for 10 seconds (or even 5 seconds if necessary). Stay at this level for as long as you need, and then increase to 15, 15, 15, and then to 20, 20, 20.
Try to do this for three minutes with your child, calling out the inhale, hold and exhale. Then extend the time as you can. You can do this.
We all can.
It’s going to be okay.
Just keep breathing.
For more information on Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, visit 3HO.org. For mental health support resources for young people, visit The National Alliance on Mental Health. If you or someone you know are in crisis, get immediate help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- 8255, chat with trained counselors 24/7, or get help in other ways through the Lifeline.