Friday, July 19, 2013

Kids yoga-the last day

Last week at Camp Rhythmo, the kids had their final showcase, which they have been building up to and working on for weeks.  When I walked into the cafeteria, I was impressed with the set-up; displays of all of their projects and creations were hanging on the walls, including my favorite, the yoga collages we made on our first day together! I was excited to see the kids perform their songs and do the choreography and of course, their yoga demonstration.  The show was adorable and I felt so proud of the kids.  I may have even teared up a little, or maybe there was an eyelash in my eye??

On my very first day teaching kids yoga, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I ended up feeling so grateful for having had the opportunity to do this.  Sadly, the second session of the camp was cancelled due to low attendance, but my last day with the kids was probably one of the most challenging and the most rewarding. 

I walked in to the school room for my first day of session 2, and saw only three boys, which was a drastic reduction from my very first day when I met somewhere around 20-24 kids. Two of the boys I already knew from session 1, and the other boy was new.  My first thought was "Yay!  everyone can have their own mat!"  and my second thought was "How am I going to do this?"
The class started off a little rough.  I wasn't sure how to structure it since there were so few of them.
I decided to take a different approach and create it like a real/grown up yoga class...teacher up front so that students can watch the demonstration of poses, and students' mats lined up perpendicular. I needed to review and teach the new kid yet try to avoid boring the returning kids...I saw the challenge in this because not only were the returning kids a bit distracted and rowdy, but the new kid seemed tired and uninterested.  hmph.

I quickly went through poses we knew and had the returning kids demonstrate.  We covered breathing techniques and I introduced nadi sodhana.  New kid was not impressed.  So I pulled out my secret weapon- partner boat pose.  Fun was had by all!  That really got them all going! Sensing from this that we needed a faster moving class, we moved right into downward facing dog and then one-legged DFD.  A little bit of a balance challenge.  The boys were keeping up and seemed to want more of a challenge, so I sped things up and introduced the concept of sequencing. We flowed over and over through the poses we knew, taking short breaks in child's pose and then slowed down a bit and studied Tree Pose.  "This is boring and hard" said a boy that is often very distracted.  I replied only, "really?"
I could tell I was losing them so I decided we should be more playful and fun. We used our imaginations and turned our mats into magic carpets and went on a magic carpet ride, but that kind of backfired and caused them to want to constantly lift their mats up and not really do yoga...So I got us standing on our mats to do partner tree poses and we all grew like a forest, which was a good group activity.  (even though tree pose is apparently boring and hard)  Thankfully, we were nearing the end of our allotted time, because I was running out of ideas.
Wearily, tired new boy asked when we were going to "relax", which made me giggle a little bit.  Feeling like I needed a break myself, I complimented him on his excellent suggestion, and enticed them to lay on their backs in "relaxing pose" aka savasana.
It took some work to get them all into the correct form, especially one of the more hyper boys who kept fidgeting and talking.  I sat right up by his head and gently shhhh-ed him/them while verbally taking them on a journey.  I had them imagine being in their favorite place: the beach, their home, their bed, their couch, a garden, wherever they felt best and safe and loved.  I asked them to think about who is there with them, their favorite people, their parents, their pets, their siblings, their friends...I told them that in this place, they didn't have to worry about homework, or chores, or fighting with their siblings or cleaning their rooms.  While calmly shushing the boys between phrases, I noticed that the fidgety one started to become more still, as had the other boys.  I noticed pockets of absolute silence.  Though the boys weren't totally still, they were calm, quiet, and seemed content to just lay there and be.  I tried a little more visualization, but I wasn't totally prepared to do this with them and I didn't want to say anything that would make them uncomfortable or adults in savasana, it can be a very vulnerable place for a child to be, emotionally, and kids have fears about things that I don't even know I kept it light and generic. 

Though part of me wanted to see just how long this could continue and savor the quiet that is so rare among kids this age, our time was almost up, so I instructed them to move into child's pose.  They moved into the pose as if in slow motion. Dr. Grant came over and commented on how tranquil it was in our space and aided me by adjusting the kids and reminded them of their breathing.  Savasana continued on a little bit longer as they sat like rocks in child's pose.  Finally, we had to end the class and after sharing our Namaste blessings to each other, I asked them to reflect on how they felt.  I asked if they felt good right now, if they felt calm and content.  And they convincingly replied that they did. 

As I reflected upon the difference in the energy the boys had been throwing around the room only minutes before our practice, and smiled at the small but delightful change in the tone of the room.  I felt like I had really accomplished something, and maybe that something is a step towards a more peaceful life for all involved.

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