The Teen Yoga Foundation is doing such incredible work to bring yoga to teens, schools and teachers across the UK and eventually the rest of the world, through teacher trainings, books and events. Charlotta Martinus and the Teen Yoga Foundation speak to teens directly, but also train teachers, parents and health professionals to start a trickle down effect that will eventually have yoga available to teens all over the world. When we heard Charlotta’s story and vision for the foundation, we were humbled and inspired by everything she has accomplished and knew we had to help spread the word. Here’s Charlotta’s incredible story:
A registered Charity since 2016
The vision of the Teen Yoga Foundation is to bring yoga to young people across the UK and abroad in order to diminish suffering. The foundation does this primarily by running yoga teacher training courses ( 5 days) across the world.
The charity started in 2016, although it was running unofficially since 2007. Around 40 volunteers help the charity in various ways on a monthly basis, raising money on World Peace Day in September every year to bring yoga to schools for free. The charity runs research projects together with Imperial College, Westminster University, University College London and also internationally through the European Commission. These research projects are designed to consolidate the hitherto scant research base on yoga for young people. In turn, Charlotta hopes that with a well grounded research base, government and schools will feel more comfortable in inviting yoga into schools, youth institutions and healthcare. Presently there are still some misleading preconceptions around yoga and the foundation aims to dissolve them once and for all through the research and also through lobbying and public speaking.
Yoga in schools
Yoga brings inner peace and therefore peace in families and communities and finally peace to our country. We live in a time of polarisation, factions are encouraged and inflamed in social media. We are alienated even in our very own neighbourhood, where we spend more time online than we do together around a table. Yoga is an antidote to that. There are no phones in a yoga class, there is silence, there is togetherness and there is a healing space. This space gives rise to a sense of belonging and self value which in turn can strengthen our resilience and self esteem.
Charlotta spends a lot of time speaking about yoga in schools. She teaches on 2 PGCE (teacher training) courses, so that school teachers have a method of taking care of themselves and of their children in a simple and preventative way. We can keep calm in the classroom and also increase learning capacity, strengthen social bonds and also become kinder towards each other with the use of meditation, breathing practises and yoga in the classroom. More than this, with 1 in 3 young teachers leaving the profession within 3 years, we need to care for our teachers more than ever before.
The future for TeenYoga
Long term, the foundation is excited to be working within Public Health on a project which is likely to encompass a large area of schools, to ascertain exactly how and what yoga can do to help performance and presence in schools.
The charity is always looking for sponsors and donors, as all the work is done pro bono. The charity won an innovation grant from Sport England to bring yoga to disadvantaged young people in the Bristol area in 2015-16. In 2017, the charity received funding for a 2 year EU Erasmus project in 5 countries, including Spain, Netherlands, UK, Norway and Belgium. This project has developed an app which has just gone live and is called the Yuva Yoga app – it is for teenagers who want to change the way they feel. Download it and see what you think!
Also, quite recently, the charity designed and printed the Mood Cards, which are a set of 16 cards in credit card size, which help you change your mood by practising certain postures and breathing. They are available on the Teen Yoga Foundation website here. All the proceeds go to the charity. The foundation recently received an order for 30 packs for the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) unit in the South West!
The future looks bright for the Teen Yoga Foundation, being involved in the APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Yoga which is a lobbying group, speaking to parliament about bringing yoga into every school, prison, workplace and healthcare – Charlotta represents the school vertical on the APPG.
The publishers of the TeenYoga book, Singing , have asked Charlotta to write two more books on yoga for young people, which will be a more tailored to schools and medical establishments.
Bringing yoga to young people worldwide
Every year, been Charlotta has been invited to Africa to teach on different projects. In 2017, it was Sierra Leone that beckoned, where 23 young soldiers were taught yoga for trauma. In 2018, it was a group of teachers and nurses in Johannesburg who benefited from learning how to use yoga in the classroom in a township school. They found that the attendance and attention span increased with the use of specific yoga techniques, so Charlotta tried to help them harness the power of yoga to get the most out of the students. Her next project takes her to Uganda, to a woman’s refuge where women who have been subjected to trauma learn to teach each other yoga to regain strength and also to bring joy back into their lives. The charity raises around £4000 for each of these projects to pay for flights, accommodation, books and mats. If you would like to get involved in the next Africa project, let the foundation know.
But next on the horizon for Charlotta Martinus is the Keynote talk at Lincolns Inn Fields, on the 31st of January, to a large group of judges, law lords and barristers, who want to learn more about yoga and how it can help them and others. Yoga has certainly come a very long way!
Read more: yogamatters.com