One of my students is a very polite 10 year-old-boy, who talks to me like he would to a friend. He asks me questions casually and admits things during our yoga class together. I have known him for more than a year now. And recently, he has been upgraded to the tween/teen class, since he is mature enough physically and emotionally for it. Well, it also fits his and his mom’s schedule, because there is an adult class going on in the adjacent room at the same time as my class. He can still handle the kids yoga level, but I also can feel he wants more challenges and he does not fall for the stories anymore.
Since he joined my tweens/teens class, we have been working with these new, more challenging poses like Crow for instance. It’s been a couple of months now, yet he still gets tired in between sequences of poses. At first, he could not even do a push up, which is completely normal at this age, especially since he does not practice any sports. So we started building strength in the arms with various poses, including Warrior I, II, III and IV. We ended up inventing Warrior V together! So, it is not all doing yoga “like an adult” with him – thank goodness! Let the playing happen, too! After a month, he was all proud to see he could now do a push up to perform chaturanga dandasana (yoga push up).
As he talks to me regularly, he admitted to me he is not much into exercising. He said, “Actually I am lazy”. I believe he was trying to explain why he gets tired in my class. I talked to him about stamina and how we build it after starting a new form of exercise, and that he was doing great. I added that I do not expect him to be perfect, and neither should he. I encouraged him to stick with it and maybe even practice a few poses during the week (we only have class once a week, and it is on the weekend) to keep the momentum going with his muscles and strength building. Next, we started working on Crow. After a few classes, he managed to lift up one foot. He was so happy he showed his mom when class ended! A few classes later, he was “flying” with both feet off the mat for one or two seconds. “Woohoo!”, he celebrated in the middle of class; I high-fived him. Every little victory counts. I remember when I started these poses; we build them little by little, and every step we manage to conquer is a little victory to be celebrated. Then you realize, you are actually making progress! And that gives you a huge internal encouragement, a big self-esteem boost to try whatever you want and actually believe you can succeed. He even tried headstand on the other day, after seeing other two students, who have been practicing longer than him, doing it next to him.
Another perk from practicing yoga is that you realize you make progress by working hard yourself, not by what you get or wait to get from others. If you want something, go get it! This is part of a bigger life lesson, that is, taking responsibility for how your life goes; and this is a way to begin to understand this. It is wonderful to take part in this process with him, being there by his side to encourage him. I can’t wait to see the heights he will reach!