Today was day 2 of Grounded Kids 95 hour Certification Intensive Online. In a group that totals 15, there is 1 black woman. Out of hundreds of Grounded Kids teachers, less than 50 are black. I will spend time figuring out how to correct such a discrepancy but first I have a lot to learn.
Each year Little Shop of Stories, a bookstore in Decatur, has a city wide reading initiative called On the Same Page. Readers of all ages enjoy the same book and for several weeks, activities are planned for the schools and the community leading up to the grand finale which is a guest reading by the book’s author.
Our children have an opinion and I feel it is important for them to be heard. In my classes I welcome discussion and I let my students know that their opinions matter. Yesterday’s classes were magically healing. My Thursday morning class at LEAD Homeschool in Avondale Estates started off the day with heart opening poses and balancing poses.
Flexibility in my teaching this week came in the form of ‘hold on a minute’ and ‘kids’.
Hold on a Minute
I usually have 15-20 people in my classes but this week there was only 8. When I saw the sign ups on the computer and was thinking; but where is Laura, where are John and Sonya? I was a little disappointed; I wanted everyone to be there so I could tell them all about flexibility. But then I realized that I was doing a disservice to the students who had actually shown up, that it was these students that needed my focus and attention, it was these students who had choosen to practice yoga this evening. As always I took my notes about the theme Flexibility, (taken from yet another amazing Omni Webinar!!) into my Yoga class Monday night and spoke during centering. Early on in the Evolution series we do a 3-part Utkatasana pose. Part one is similar to the standard pose, part two is sitting hips to heels and part three is balancing. I had decided to carry on wearing the t-shirt I had been wearing to my first day of Kids yoga camp. It shows a picture of a boy doing revolved chair pose, which in Kid’s Yoga is called ‘hold on a minute’. At this point in the class I invited my students to be flexible, to show up and engage in what was being presented to them even thought it was unfamiliar. I instructed everyone into hold on a minute pose, to hold the pose for a minute and then do it again on the other side!
Sitting at the front desk after class I noticed that there was a stack of Yoga Journal magazines on the side and I couldn’t believe it when I saw that the top copy had a picture of none other than Parivrtta Utkatasana on the front cover!!! I was so excited that I made sure to show all my students as they left the studio. Matt commented that ‘It was very Vinyasa of me’. I asked Rosa how it had been for her. She said she found it tough, the pose and the unfamiliarity. I was pleased that my initial question had allowed her to open herself up to asking me a question about a pose in the series that she never really understood. John said he had also found the pose very challenging. He went on to explain that he appreciated the help with the cueing in class to engage and straightening his knees, as he had spent years playing hockey, where his stance throughout a game is knees bent. For him the elevation in height and the different feelings that come up in his body just going from bent knees to straight causes a sense of anxiety to start rising up inside him. This yoga is complex and fascinating stuff!
I want to tell you how flexibility in my planning made a young girl’s face light up when I offered her the opportunity to teach a lesson to the other kids at yoga camp. How the lesson theme ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ was tailor made for her. How the lesson plan happened to include a quote from her all time idol Coco Chanel.
The most courageous thing you can do is think for yourself. Aloud.
How this amazing girl, realized how much she loved teaching and wants to do it again and again.
I want to tell you how flexibility in my planning allowed a beautiful boy to share with us his wealth of knowledge about chakras. How he brought in the notes he had written up, how he showed us the stones that represent each Chakra and how he then taught us a pose he had chosen to go with each one.
I want to tell you how flexibility in my perspective allowed a boy, with limited awareness of his physical body, to be successful in crow pose by showing him how to do it on his back. I want to tell you how flexibility in not doing everything myself created a bond between 2 girls as they worked together to write out the word of the day and the alignment action.
I want to tell you how holding space allowed a girl to help her friend find words of wisdom to share with the universe, ‘love life and follow your dreams’
I want to tell you how flexibility in changing the rules of a game allowed even the quietest and shyest of children to be in a space that was unknown and unfamiliar and find the power within them to teach a new pose to everyone.
I want to tell you how allowing time and space for growth manifested itself in a tentative smile grow bigger and bigger on the face of the quietest of little angels over the week. How she couldn’t contain herself and giggled with excitement and sheer delight as we played our very last game. And how it came forth in her writing too.
I want to tell you about how flexible this amazing group of children was. How they showed up and engaged fully in what was being presented to them. How they had loud temper tantrums in the pose ‘calm down’, how they held a pose for one minute and then did it again on the other side. How they sang and chanted ‘I am happy, I am good’ and ‘I am the light of my soul, I am light, I am, I am, I am’. How they told us about accepting and staying true to themselves by doing or not doing things that are expected of them because of their gender. How they wrote phrases like, ‘patience now, you’ll get there’, ‘yoga was perfect’, ‘thank you yoga’.
How they told us what yoga means to them:
Yoga is a peaceful place where you can relax and breath
Yoga is patience
Yoga is an exercise where people calm down
How they worked together to created an amazing mandala and chatted and laughed together as they painted rock with the intention of putting their art out into the world.
How they supported each other as they were tested for their bandanas in the Solid Ground Flow, and how they supported each other in-group poses.
CLEAR BOUNDARIES, NO LIMITS!!