I recently had a physical and had all the usual things checked — cholesterol, weight, blood pressure and height. My weight has been pretty consistent, give or take a few pounds. I think I stopped growing by my senior year of high school and plateau at 5 feet 2 inches. I was shocked when I was told I was 5 feet, 2 inches and a half. I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. I was thrilled to learn that I grew half an inch! I have definitely been feeling like my posture is better due to all the yoga I have been regularly doing, but I am still in shock that it has actually made me taller!

Technically yoga did not really make me grow. It just helped me with my posture and therefore had a similar effect.

I did not start doing yoga regularly until about two years ago. I fractured my back when I had my bicycle accident three-and-a -half years ago and it has helped tremendously. I have been a strong advocate of yoga for all ages ever since.

Yoga has become more popular in schools and is now being offered as a physical education option. Locally, Santa Monica High School teacher Jenna Gasparino teaches yoga and this past year there were several more classes added due to its popularity.

Pat Welsh, a golf instructor who teaches for Total Golf Adventures has been practicing yoga since 1973 before many people even knew what it was. He was living in London at the time and out of boredom he and some friends bought a book and started learning yoga. Now in his early 60s, he still starts his day with yoga.

“It definitely has helped me stay healthy, injury free and improved my golf game,” Welsh said.

He tries to encourage the kids to do some stretching and basic yoga each time they play.

I decided to interview a number of teens to see how yoga has impacted their lives. Here is what they came back with:

“Yoga makes me feel more alive and it clears me up. Yoga calms my mind down from stressors. I go at least once a week, whenever I can and started when I joined my school’s yoga class after volleyball season.”

Scott Tamaki — Junior, Samohi

“Yoga heals pain and I love the feeling that is so sensational and pure. Yoga has definitely helped me. I feel stronger and more comfortable in general. I also have something to motivate me to get out of the house. Recently I have had yoga once a week, the problem is finding a time to focus and really connect. College life is hectic but as soon as finals are over I plan on it being a daily thing. I started yoga my junior year of high school.”

Sarah Michael Nagata — Santa Monica College

“Yoga helps calm me. I feel very relaxed after I do yoga. I feel that yoga has helped me a lot. I do Yoga two or three times a week, but I try to do it as much as possible. I doing yoga started last year.”

Trianna Garcia — Sophomore, Samohi.

Yoga has many benefits of which include:

• If you are young and still growing, regular yoga practice and a good diet will help you reach your full height

• Strength

• Flexibility

• Relaxation — more focus in class

• Stress management

• Healthy body image

• Curiosity — provides confidence to take risks

High School athletes can also benefit from yoga as it helps stretch and prevent injury from overused muscles as is common in athletes. We encourage everyone to practice some sort of yoga or stretching routine. Especially as finals roll around it is a great way to keep the stress at bay!

Karen Jashinsky is the founder of O2 MAX, a fitness network for teens that teaches them how to integrate fitness and nutrition into their day-to-day lives while preventing injuries and empowering teens to lead healthy and fit lifestyles. The O2 MAX training studio is based in Santa Monica. To receive her newsletter or contact her she can be reached at info@o2maxfitnes.com, or through her Web site and blog at www.o2maxfitness.com.

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