They come from disparate worlds. They are many colors and many income bracketed families. It takes a no time to see how many struggle or don’t even bother to pay attention. Some of them come every week but every week there are newcomers as well.
Yoga is simply a means to focus attention and hold attention I tell them. To do that, we use our bodies.
I ask them not to talk to each other during class unless it is a necessity. The class is short I tell them. This will let us make the most of our time. This will help us pay attention.
I ask them to follow me in a wide squat. I drop one shoulder and then another. We are squatting. We are twisting I tell them. And we are breathing.
We will lose our attention toward the squatting and twisting and we will find our breath to bring us back to our movement. We will be in charge of that movement.
We will practice this and we will eventually do it in our own way and in our own time but we will keep moving unless we need to rest.
We will be good to ourselves and the people in our room because that will make things easier for us.
We will move in rhythm with the breath, I say as they continue to follow me. I raise my arms overhead in mountain. Breathe in and as we bend forward with bent knees I ask them to breathe out.
A little boy named Marcel who hugs me before class has stopped and is swinging his right arm back and forth almost grazing the arm of the boy next to him.
We pause. Marcel, are you swinging your arm on purpose? I don’t mind but you are in charge of your body and it’s your job to know what you are doing. Then you can decide if it’s a good idea or not. If we notice what we’re doing we can be in charge of ourselves. What a great reason to pay attention!
The kids are pretty wild today. But I ask anyway, are you kids feeling energetic? Three out of about twenty shake their heads but the rest scream yes!
Then here’s what we’ll do. This is called power yoga. They love the name. I give them the first Ashtanga warm up with modifications for the children who will enjoy that choice. I do it with them so they have something to keep them going. I call out the breaths with the poses.
They rise to the occasion though many of these kids are out of shape. This style was created for children back in the day though I believe those were children in gymnastic programs.
They love savasana but today we’ve gone over time and most of these kids rely on the school for the breakfast provided so we disband after one minute of silence. These kids are my great privilege.