Meg’s Interview w/ Halley Firstenberg | On Tween Yoga

What led you to create this workshop?

Simply put, I wish I had been introduced to yoga at this age!  Growing up dancing, it gave me a sense of self.  It felt good to do something I was good at!   Along with that though, I also felt pressure to keep my weight down, to compete, and be the “best” – not necessarily the best me.  I was identifying with something that was outside of me, the label of “the dancer”.  I found while working with teens, not much has changed.  The labels are still there and the pressure for teens is greater than ever.  What they see in the media is this idea of perfection.  Young girls and boys alike start to pick up on what will make them cool – everything from what they should wear and what they should weigh to what sports they should play.   This also causes a dichotomy amongst peers – the jock, the artist, the smarty.  These years are crucial for both physical and emotional development.  My hopes are to help teens notice their accomplishments and limitations without attaching too much meaning to them.

Tell us about what you were like as a teenager? 

As a teenageer, I was very outgoing and I was a people pleaser.  I was “the diplomat”.  I wanted everyone to be friends!  My insecurities partially stemmed from wanting to please people – including my parents, my teachers and my friends.  I knew I was unique and that I had talents and that helped with my confidence but insecurities would creep in when I would try to please other people.  I couldn’t  understand when people didn’t want to be friends.  I didn’t like conflict or drama.  If I had yoga I would have started exploring those things earlier in life and may have been more apt to move towards my uniqueness and not just trying to please.  Thank goodness I found it eventually!  Being diplomatic isn’t a bad thing.  I don’t want it to seem that way.  For me, it was sometimes at the expense of losing part of myself and that can be a really challenging place to be.  Yoga gave me perspective.

If you could go back in time and tell your 13 year old self something what would it be?

I would tell her, “You’re a beautiful dancer and you have so much to offer artistically and even beyond that.  You’re smart, you’re unique and people love you.  You don’t have to worry about that.  You don’t need to be so concerned about your weight.  You are loved.”

You have a 5 year old daughter now (and she’s beautiful, I might add!) – Do you take her to yoga? 

I used to teach yoga at Elle’s preschool and we practice yoga together at home also.  Elle could teach a whole yoga class herself!

I love that!  Tell us more about this workshop.  What can we expect?

This practice will introduce your tween to the practice of pranayama (ujayii), dristi and asana.  They will have the opportunity to explore postures in a non-competitive environment while having fun with friends!  We will move into a practice that will allow the group to drop the labels and focus on the true abilities and limitations that make them each unique.  They can also expect some partner work and fun inversions before a nice long savasana.  This class is for ages 9 to 13 year olds.  My hopes is that this workshop will open the door for teens to feel comfortable doing yoga and maybe even bring their parents along!

Thank you so much, Halley for sharing with us!  Do you have any parting words?

Yes!  Do yoga so you can be happy – no matter what age you are.

Click for more information on Halley’s March 9th Tween Building Workshop!