I recently taught a yoga class for six girls between the ages of 6 and 11, who came to my home studio. It was a shy start, with a warm up done alternating who would be the leader. Two of them refused to be the leader, asking to have their turn skipped. Obviously, I respected their choice, as nothing is forced in my class.
We started doing poses, and all of them were participating enthusiastically. We performed individual, partner and group poses for more than thirty minutes. As we reached the climax of the class, I then presented the most challenging pose for that day: scorpion pose. They looked at me as if I had told them aliens had landed on the planet… I then did the pose myself talking about the challenges to perform it, what not to do while in it so they would not get hurt, and I also told them how I would help them do it. A few hands went up, volunteering to do the pose, but one of the girls said, “I don’t know… I don’t think I want to try this.” I told her it was okay if she did not want to try it, and proceeded to help each girl, who had raised their hand, individually. By the time the fifth girl was done performing the pose with my help, that sixth girl, who was hesitating minutes ago and had watched all the other five trying the pose and accomplishing it, came forward and decided to try it. I smiled as she felt confident enough to come try something scary, but done safely in a friendly environment. And obviously she got it, and smiled proudly.
After a few other poses, we began to cool down, switched the music to a calm one, and the girls lied down still and ready for relaxation. I led them in a guided visualization and they all seemed to be deeply relaxed on their mats. As I finished, they came to a seated position, still silent. Yes, those chattering girls, who sang songs, laughed and made comments during class, were now quiet and as still as their mats. Then we heard one parent coming to pick up her kid, and another kid asked, “Is it time to leave already?” I smiled, as seventy minutes had passed and none of us were tired of it or wanting it to end. I was glad I had asked parents for those extra ten minutes, because I estimated this class would take a little longer, especially building confidence and preparing the body for the challenging pose chosen for today. When I asked for comments at the end of class, all of the girls agreed it was a hard pose, but worth a try. None of them regretted trying it. And so, the seed has been planted, and, next time each one of these girls are presented with a challenge in life, this moment will be alive inside them and motivating them to try their best to face the challenge.
Note to self: next seed to be planted… Maybe it would do them great if we talked about and experienced the realization that we get to choose our responses to facts. Facts are what they are, but our responses vary, and can be transformed into something that will help us instead of bringing us down. It looks like my next mission is set!