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Monday, July 27, 2015

Mind over matters of hate. 3 ways yoga can help stop teen bullying

Emily-Anne Rigal. Courtesy of Leah Kraus Photography
As so often occurs with kids who’ve been bullied, Emily-Anne Rigal developed such tendencies herself, after years of torment for being overweight, at the hands of her elementary school peers.

“I felt so bad about myself having been bullied, that I put others down to try to make myself feel better, but it didn’t work,” says Rigal.

Gradually, “I made great friends, who didn’t gossip and their niceness rubbed off on me. I realized that...
making other people feel good makes others feel good,” says Rigal, who, now at age twenty-one heads up, WeStopHate.org, an organization she founded to help others share their experiences with bullying by posting videos to YouTube and to help foster good “teen esteem.”
Within eight months of its launch, the online channel amassed one million video views. A common thread of the teen-uploaded content found here is, “How flaws hold us back from accepting who we are," says Rigal.

This recurring theme prompted the young activist to pen her forthcoming book, “Flawd: How to stop hating on yourself, others and the things that make you who you are,” which hits stores August 18, 2015 (Penguin Random House, $15.95).
Cover Illustration by Jeanne Demers
Interestingly, Rigal says yoga is a great practice for teens to get in to, as it reinforces the importance of building self-esteem and inner strength.
“The meditation aspect of yoga -- this solitary act of being in your own head can be very positive and uplifting,” says Rigal. “It’s a practice that can aid teens in their efforts to see their flaws in a new light and combat bullying. You really need to have a good relationship with yourself before you can with others.”
Just as yoga is a journey in self-exploration, “Flawd aims to keep the conversation going on how to use your flaws in a positive way. It’s the idea that we’re all plenty good enough and able to make a positive change in the world,” says Rigal.
Many topics in Flawd parallel important yogic principles. Here are three examples...
Use your sphere of influence. When you act on any of the many opportunities there are to be helpful, soothing or in any way a positive influence in the lives of others…you’re shaping the world in to something better. Be generous that way. Share the good you’ve got going on. Share a lot of it.
Do nothing. Do nothing means being able to say, “I give up trying to change this flaw. I may not be able to embrace it, but I’m not going to reject it either. Surrender to things just the way they are.
Be you. It’s so simple. But, straightforward as BeYOU sounds, it’s a very easy thing to get away from. That’s why it’s so impressive when being YOU happens. Being YOU happens when you’re doing the smallest, most ordinary, everyday things. But the smallest, most ordinary, everyday things are actually really big things. They’re acts of bravery. Ordinary Acts of Bravery.





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