We hear about young people suffering from mental health problems more and more these days as they struggle to come to terms with the frenetic pace of modern life and with cuts to funding being slashed, getting help seems to be getting harder and harder for them - that’s help other than being handed anti-depressants that simply mask the problem.

But Yoga Expressions is keen to help teenagers cope with mental health issues and it is hosting a yoga festival in St Albans this weekend. The one-day event, which has been set up by a group of local yoga instructors, looks at meditating and creating a calm and relaxed environment where youngsters can de-stress, let go of their anxieties and thrive.

Instructor Melanie Ashley regularly visits schools to teach yoga to young children. She says the idea behind the festival is to give teenagers an alternative way of managing their stress and looking after their health and wellbeing.

Melanie holds yoga sessions on a weekly basis and I went along to get a taste of how yoga can help with stressful situations.

I have done yoga before, although only twice but the class followed a very similar set up where you follow the instructor through all the movements and positions.

Melanie’s class was a bit different, however, everyone does what they can at their own pace, and she just guides them and ensures they do each movement correctly so as not to put any strain on the body.

One of the first things she tells me is that yoga is all about expression through movement and we start by getting to grips with breathing exercises.

Focusing on your breathing is instantly relaxing and clears your mind – it’s the first and most important part of yoga and any form of meditation. Even when Melanie placed a 5kg bag on my stomach, focusing just on how you breath in and out somehow makes you stop worrying about how much you have to do at work the next day.

After doing at least a five rounds of this, we moved on to some basic stretches and movements. I approached yoga from a fitness perspective, whereas my friend focused more on meditation.

The movements were simple enough but what was key whilst we were doing this was to maintain the breathing exercises – knowing when to inhale deeply and exhale out as this is all part of the meditative process of yoga.

Many of the positions we tried were based on stretches that I would usually associate with a warm up before playing a sport like football or lacrosse. But by repeating them has a releasing and rhythmic effect – it is as though you are letting go of your anxieties and stress in a very calm environment.

These simple, repetitive movements are very reassuring and Melanie points out that everyone can do them at home, and they will be particularly effective if you learn the breathing techniques which she will be teaching at the festival.

We spent about two hours with Melanie doing various yoga movements, adding more difficult and intrinsic positions in once we’d got the hang of the routines. By the end, I definitely felt like I had done a workout, but most of all, me and my colleague felt incredibly relaxed, to the point where we knew we would get a good night’s sleep.

There will be a range of classes on offer from dynamic to restorative yoga as well as craft workshops and ways to heighten the senses using food and sound.

Details: yoga-expressions.info.