Learning from Toddlers
My daughter Zola's teacher asked me to come to her class and teach the kids about yoga. I didn't hesitate, because I LOVE to show yoga to anyone who asks. Just talking (and writing) about it is a thrill. I began by asking my friends who teach yoga, what should I do with kids. I knew that my lesson wasn't going to be about achieving a perfect pose, but instead about getting them to move. I also wanted to make it fun and something they would be excited to talk about later. My yoga friends agreed, and I went to work. I wrote a little story that the children and I could act out with various simple yoga poses. We focused on Nature. The smell of earth and the feel of the sun. We began as trees in the woods. Then along came a breeze, which got stronger and toppled us over. Then we became cats smelling and moving in woods and then morphed into cows mooing in the woods. Then the cows saw dogs running in the woods. The dogs were running from a pride of lions. The lions were distracted by some birds that were flying away from some snakes. We went through all the poses: tree, cat, cow, dog, lion breath, bird and cobra. I think the kids enjoyed it -- they were smiling and listening and excited. But, I think I got more out of it because they were such great teachers. So, what did I learn? For one, I know that in my yoga asana, I tend to hold myself stiff, using a lot of muscular energy. These kids were all about organic energy. They are just little balls of energy. They fell and laughed and tried again and again. It was quite fun to watch—I wish I could have watched more. But, what they did to me is amazing. I had my own class after this little session, and I let go of the muscular energy and surrendered to the organic energy ENTIRELY. Know what I found? Places in my body where I needed to let go and surrender and other places where I needed to be stronger. By letting go, I realized where I needed to be stronger. It was such an ah-ha moment for me. What else did I learn? Joy. Yoga is about finding joy. It's not about finding the perfect pose and looking perfect. It's about finding that place where joy and a smile come across your face. Where you are at peace. These kids were all about peace and joy. It was pretty cool. So, a short 15-minute yoga demo to a group of toddlers ended up being an enlightening experience for me that I will work to remember the next time I need to let go!