A few weeks ago I was asked to teach a session to a class at my son's school. I was told that the session would be about half and hour and that they were grades 4/5. I have to say I was a little scared. I have taught really little kids and have taught some elderly people as well (my oldest was around 90). This age group I knew would be different.
So I devised a plan to make it a different kind of class. To make our session something that they might enjoy and pay attention to as well. I even contacted a friend and colleague who has more experience with this age group to ask her what she thought (thanks Jamine). Even still with my planning and preparedness when the day came I was terrified, I honestly thought that they were going to eat me alive. We all have certain fears (false, evidence, appearing, real). My fear is that someone will stand up and start yelling fake, phony, get her out of here. I know I'm not a fake or a phony. I have a long practice and certification to back me up but it still sits there - haunting me sometimes. But that's probably another blog post.
I arrived at the school on Monday morning, did my regular volunteering in my son's kindergarten class. Then off to the gym I went. I was surprised to see some of the students already had yoga mats with them and were ready to go. That was re-assuring. We got seated in a circle I was introduced and we began. The girls seemed very interested and attentive, the boys were already being silly. So, I told them how yoga was traditionally for men and that there has been a shift, I told them that pro athletes practiced yoga in order to improve their game. They were interested for a bit and then it all seemed to fall apart (or so I thought). The teacher left the room to attend to something. I was alone with about 30 kids ages 10 and 11. Most of the girls were participating fully and generally happy to be there. The boys were another story, they were laughing and being loud and rambunctious, I had to ask them several times to settle down or quiet down. I even reminded them that sometimes laughter is a sign of nervousness and sometimes we do this when we are uncomfortable. That it is OK as long as you keep it in check.
The teacher came back in and full order was resumed. I had a few little yoga competitions to see who could hold a pose the longest. I even took some requests for postures that they knew from either the Wii Fit or that their mom's did. I had them hold warrior for a longish time while I walked around and reminded them that they are all stronger than they think. The warrior pose could help to build strength and stamina in the body and the mind.
Half an hour flies by I must say because before I knew it, it was time for a relaxation. I keep it to about 3 minutes as I was not sure they could handle much more than that. I was right. I played some soft music and talked them through a nice guided relaxation. The lights were dimmed and much to my surprise they were all totally relaxed. I could tell after about two minutes a lot of them were starting to get fidgety. So up we got and sat in a cross legged pose. Then I OM'd. I explained to them about the universal sound of OM, the calming properties.
I then caught some of the boys "showing off" only they were being a bit dangerous in my opinion. Trying to do head stands and falling over quite hard. Lifting their bodies into wheels with splayed feet. So I showed a couple of them how to do a proper head stand. Then one of them challenged me to do a headstand. Sometimes it's about the tricks. Not usually, but sometimes. So I popped up into a headstand and did some funky moves with my feet. In hind sight I should have started the lesson that way because it sure got their attention.
I thought that most of them honestly didn't like it or found it boring. But then the teacher contacted me and asked if I would come again. She said her students were asking for it. So I guess they did like it. What will my approach be next time? I know there are some things that I will change and some will stay the same. Maybe a little bit of
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.