I would not identify myself as a 'kid person' (and if you know me - you would probably agree). Now, this has definitely shifted over the past two and a half years as I have gotten to know my amazing nieces Charlotte and (more recently!) Emma. I love Charlotte and Emma to the moon and back and believe they are the most amazing human beings on this earth - but other kids? Meh. Just not my thing.
So to my surprise, I found myself eagerly signing up for a volunteer opportunity to teach yoga and mindfulness to 4th and 1st graders at a summer school program in the Lower East Side. I have a burning desire to be able to spread my passion for yoga and have been trying to turn this passion into a career. I struggle with how to shape my career as a yoga teacher and how to veer away from being a personal trainer or an aerobics teacher and put the yoga into my classes (not that those are easy or 'less' jobs at all - that is just not my goal). I want to be able to not only teach in the typical studio environment but also to share yoga with people who may need it, can gain value from it, but may not have access to it or simply do not think that it is for them.
I hope to be able to share the yoga philosophy of acceptance of body and of self with everyone who practices and especially with the younger population. A demographic that is just starting to understand their body and themselves as an individual and make judgements about the self and others. Yoga teaches us that we are not our body, we are not our mind, we are something separate - our true self, the Atma, is limitless and pure. We can control our thoughts and we can control our physical bodies, therefore we have the power to make this life a very positive experience - or a negative one.
As a taller than average woman, I was what felt like an Amazon as a teenager. I wore a size 6 when all of my friends size 0 jean skirts were barely hanging on to their hips. I was bigger than all of my friends and felt awkward in my body for a long time. I longed for a boyish figure with a flat chest and narrow hips; to feel cute and petite instead of tall and gangly. Alas, this did not happen and it was never going to happen. Through my years in a yoga practice I have been able to better accept and understand my body for what it is and how it serves me. Every body is perfect and every body is beautiful - a fact that pop culture seems to refuse to let us believe. Yoga makes your body strong, it gives you a soft, gentle yet steady and determined focus, and there are yogis and yoginis of all shapes and sizes doing amazing things in the world.
Okay, so I didn't get across most of these thoughts in my first hour this morning of teaching a gaggle of 9-10 year olds - but that is fine. My job is not to preach acceptance and self-love to any open ears. My goal is to present the yoga philosophy and the ideas of what it means to be a yogi and maybe one day, one child will remember those yoga classes they took in the summer of 2015 and take the next step themselves.
Teaching yoga to kids is something I never saw myself doing, much less enjoying. But I put myself (way) out of my comfort zone and it was an awesome experience.