I've always loved the connection between yoga and life. The work done on the mat finding it's shadows in life's situations, when, for instance, the controlled breath learned through a challenging asana appears during a personal conflict. Not that I've mastered that quality, but Yoga is about the connections between body, mind, breath, and your connection to the world as a whole. I used to think of yoga as a person with his legs twisted like a pretzel, and loving pretzels the way I do, it all made sense.
Off I go to my class for the new semester. There's no teacher of course today, so the kids are thrilled that someone came in to pay attention to them. I write the word YOGA on the board, have them say it loudly, and then I ask one of my little friends in the class to interpret for me--”No.” What do you mean, no? “No!” I guess he means no! Another kid voluntarily stands up, “I'll do it”—he comes running up, I tell him what to say, he just stares at the class. This is turning out to be a great start. Asking the class to pull out their chairs away from the desk is our next chore, but they don't move, so I demonstrate---they do nothing---I go around to each kid, pulling them and the chair out, which turns into a game as each kid is bouncing up and down waiting for the chair ride. I'm getting way more exercise than they are here! Ok, let's talk about breathing and balloons. I show them a picture of a balloon, we all scream balloon, and tell them to put both hands on their tummy to feel their breathing. I demonstrate---nobody moves---off I go again to put each bouncing kids hands in the proper place. They're loving this so far. Breathing kid style, here we go---they love breathing into the imaginary balloon. AAH! Then next, our first asana, BOAT---I show the picture, demonstrate, they copy my every move, they are learning to breath while up in boat posture, and then I hear it----"Teacher, I'm so tired!" What the hell, your only 6 years old, you can't be tired. I couldn't believe my ears! So then we go into a variation of Boat to strengthen abdominals, and while we do it, we have to pretend we are rowing, so I teach them the first line of Row, row, row your boat. These kids can't connect the row to the boat. My mind starts chanting---OHM!
Next class, at least I have an interpreter, my friend Lefika, and this class goes sort of perfect because of him. Sort of, because kids outside are peaking in the window, yelling stuff---I shoo them away, but they're like mosquitos, relentless, I should've bought a fly swatter to class. I open the window and tell them to go back to class---No---what do you mean no! NO! God, these kids are out of control with no teachers available. Then I hear a kid in my class shout out, “ breathe like a balloon teacher!” This isn't exactly how I imagined my first day of Yoga Life Skills would go! OHM!
But seriously, kids naturally understand how to use yoga, and over time, and with a lot of praying, maybe they'll gain that mental control, maybe they'll see that poses like Warrior gives the message that a true Warrior is strong without weapons, that it fosters inner strength, determination, and focus. For right now though, we'll explore together the endless possibilities of fun through poses.
|keoki wants in on the yoga|