To embark on a new opportunity, I will no longer teach the Boys & Girls Club yoga program I designed to help empower children.
I begin training my replacements today.
Few yoga instructors want to teach children. Of those who are willing, many cannot. Captivating attention of 30 children in the confines of a school gym is a cacophony, released in all directions.
My student’s lives are marked by poverty and hunger, violence and uncertainty. Harsh realities have made them far tougher than me; manners and protocol are not part of their vocabulary. Many have learning, behavioral or executive function issues.
Before the children would listen to me, they had to trust me. To succeed, I teach with my heart. It is the only way to lead. Even the littlest heart knows this truth. The heart sees.
I ask for input and for agreement. I look into their eyes. I explain they may participate or nap, provided it is on their mat, where it is safe and appropriate to let go and express oneself fully. Within this micro-framework of the mat, I encourage mental control via lively stories to spark imagination. I teach self esteem by inviting them to step forward and teach beside me. I allow them to discover internal self regulation through constant reminders to return to the breath.
Together, we stand strong as a mountain, wiggle and hiss as snakes in the grass, extend arms to balance like a tree, and reach for the brightest and most beautiful star in the sky to place inside our body. We each describe our Star, then relax on the mat to breathe.
I tell them I am leaving to reach for a Star. Suddenly, arms, hands, faces, elbows and hugs surround me. They don’t want a new teacher. It’s not the same.
You can’t teach love.