I had a completely different kid yoga class yesterday. Not that they are ever the same, but I think I will remember this one for a while. First, I had hurt my back two days prior to class, but since it was the last class within the session I did not want to cancel it. It was at an elementary school and to get a sub I would have to find someone qualified and with a clear volunteer status at that school district. So, I took some anti-inflammatory medicine and went, hoping the kids would remember most poses and I could just give them directions plus my verbal enthusiasm for class.
One of the kids, the youngest of all of them, a first grader who was the first one to show up, sat down on the mat and waited for the others to come. After a few seconds, she turned to me, while I was putting my belongings in a corner, and said, “How boring it is to just sit here!” I made my way next to her to inquire about that. I mentioned in a friendly tone, “After doing many things in your day, and just being done with school, you finally get to sit down and simply chill. How lucky!” She looked puzzled. I let it sit in her mind, and went to greet the other kids coming in.
We started class and I explained to them I had hurt my back and would not be able to move much that day. I sat next to that first grader, as that was the only mat left in our circle. Our warm up time was a fun one with an upbeat song to help them get the giggles out after sitting in school for most of their day so far. Then, we started doing poses. When I called a certain pose, which is still and challenging, she said, “This pose is boring!” I chose to not reply to that comment, yet by noticing she still had some wiggles to move inside her (and a few other kids also), I invited them to do the volcano breath with me to get some “lava” out. We breathed together and then continued for a few more poses, necessary to prepare for a yoga game we were playing next. One of the poses we did was star, which is a variation of mountain pose when in standing version. I decided to test how the energy was at that point by counting a bit longer while in that pose; the kids stayed still, even though I heard some of them giggling, which is normal. Instead of judging why some of the kids could not remain still, I chose to help them move the restlessness by breathing followed by honoring their need to move with a fun and active yoga game.
After the game, we had to start slowing down, so we did a different breathing technique with partners and the giggles were all over. The first grader commented, “This is so fun!” I let them really reduce speed with that activity so they would be able to relax in savasana next. When told to lie down on their backs and close their eyes, they did well among some giggles, as usual. Next, I started a visualization to encourage them to stay even longer in savasana, as a few of them (not the first grader though) started to reach to touch a neighbor or two. This was the last class before Christmas, so I suggested they closed their eyes and imagined they were a present inside Santa’s big red bag. They could be anything – a flower, a mug, etc. And they could be given to anyone – a teacher, a friend, etc. I asked them to visualize that person receiving them as a gift and how they would react. Then, I gave them a couple more minutes on the mat to let the little story unfold in their imagination or maybe just rest if they did not visualize anything.
Slowly, we got up and, before officially ending class, I asked if anyone would like to share what they had visualized. A few kids raised their hands. The first one told us she was a picture of herself with an older brother who now lives in another state. She then described how happy he was to receive that picture! Another one said she imagined herself as a mini-fridge being given to her older brother, who gets in trouble with their mom all the time for leaving beverages all over his room, yet now would be able to finally organize them inside the mini-fridge. Besides those two touching stories, we still had time for one more; this one coming from a student who tries to be funny all the time. She said she saw herself as underwear, which started giggles in almost everyone, and proceeded to describe how disgusted her younger sister, who was also taking that class, felt when she got that present. I tried to minimize the effect on her sister by saying something like, “Everybody needs underwear, I don’t know why she would be grossed out. But maybe she would then repass the gift to her sister.” the giggles restarted…
Speaking of gift, I consider a gift to be able to do yoga with kids. On the kids’ side, I am not sure how much they realize they get from doing yoga, however I bet their parents can already point out some, even after only a few classes. We ended class with each student having a chance to tell others in class what their favorite pose was; yet, about half of them could not pick only one. I was also surprised some of them mentioned poses from our first class about two months ago. As they still remember poses done a while ago, I bet they also have at least some memory about the inner peace found inside themselves at some point during our classes. And little by little more seeds are being planted!!