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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yoga off the mat when working with teens

I am asked every morning by colleagues of mine as I walk across the high school campus with mat and blanket to the gym how are you doing. I love this exchange. First thought, I am so grateful to have another day of breath. Next thought, I am so happy to be connected to the over six billion human beings on the planet, and then all the sentient beings. Next thought, what a difference a smile and a kind tone creates in a vast sea of teenagers. Next thought, since the greeting how are you doing makes such an impact on me, how much will it have on my students.
Plenty it turns out. With just under 200 students in the classes and different disciplines I teach this semester, a sincere acknowledgment daily of each and every one of them may seem somewhat daunting, but to me is the most precious gift I receive. During the first week of school, students readily acknowledge me. During the second week, many of the students are already caught up in the angst of homework, the drama of peers and expectations, and it is the opportunity for me to seek them out as I cross their paths. Sometimes it is a grin we exchange, sometimes a wave from across campus to each other, sometimes it includes exchanging names (they forget mine as well), and always it is eye contact.

In this day and age of connectedness to objects, such as electronics, I notice students have developed coping skills such as being plugged in while crossing campus to lend support for their isolation tendencies. Sometimes I honor that, and many times I purposefully step into that. You see, for me, it’s all about relationship. Call it Love, or Consciousness, but relationship is what we are all here for; walking the planet, living our lives, being the human experience. Each time I apply this philosophy to each student I greet (whether they are enrolled in any of my classes or not), I am rewarded with an exchange that is both memorable and deeply important. The opportunity to have hearts connect on a personal level in a setting known for its impersonal is extraordinary. How many of us went through our high school experience feeling invisible. Even though at times we may have been quite well adjusted to the armor we donned each morning to get through the day, occasionally there were kinks in it we most likely relive even today.
I start each of the four yoga classes I have the honor of teaching at this high school with quotes, comments, poems, readings, aha moments, or opportunities for focus in the practice. The students are quite aware this is my tendency. The mind thrives on sequence; the body thrives on ritual. The ritual I enjoy practicing with my students always includes practical ways to learn to deal with the teen experience, and to approach it with an open heart and sense of ease, starting with connecting to our breath before acting or reacting. These quotes and readings I will share along the way during our journey together in this blog over the school year. Seldom is there a set pattern to these or a typical sequence of unfolding, nor does one quote apply to each of the classes. My intention is always to sense the energy in the room, and begin from there, as all of us do when we teach what we love so much, Yoga.

1 comment:

  1. Love It - great reminders for parents of teens, too! I have a group of teens coming to my 4 pm class today. Thanks!