Photo drawn by Marybreath
Teaching kids yoga is one of the most rewarding things that I offer to the world. My passion for this practice is so deep and the fact that I teach it to children makes my connection move deeper. It moves me to know that I am teaching young children about the importance of stillness and being calm while living in a chaotic, fast-paced world. I was not the most calm kid and I definitely was not the most relaxed. However, I was focused, I did spend quiet time in nature and I did have a big imagination. Looking back at my childhood, I believe there were plenty of moments where I was meditating and didn’t even realize it.
My mom tells me the story of when I was four years old. She was unable to find me and when she did find me, I was sitting outside of are house with my palms on my cheeks. She said “Mary beth! I have been searching all over the house for you! What are you doing?” My reply at the ripe old age of four was “Thinking.” She said “Thinking about what?” I said “My life and how it’s going!” I know that this was my form of meditating at that young age. How cute is that!
So years later, I am practicing yoga on the mat and listening to the quiet voice inside of me. In my twenties, I knew that I had come home while on the mat and had many childhood memories of me sitting in various places around the house, the yard and even the school bus. These were once my places where I would go within and reflect on what is.
I was not a depressed child. I was just deep. I had many emotional upheavals where even I didn’t understand why. I became even more emotional as I moved towards and through menarche and often times found myself in my room laying on my bed thinking about my life and how it was going. I enjoyed physical activity and participated on soccer teams, swim teams, dance classes and horseback riding. I was never exposed to yoga, but I know deep inside that it is what I needed. It’s ok that I didn’t have yoga then because I have it now.
However, it is very important to me to help lead the way to the younger generations and teach them about what I call “Peaceful Buddha.” a.k.a. meditation/contemplation. In each of my classes I like to have at least 1 minute or more where the kids and I practice Peaceful Buddha. It may come during a story while practicing FULL LOTUS or it may come at the end of class before savasana when it’s time to quiet down. Lately, I have been bringing a bell. I have the kids close their eyes and then I ring the bell. After the bell is done ringing I have them open their eyes and tell me how the bell made them feel. I love the responses that I get! The best answer was by a little boy named Phoenix. When I asked him how he felt, his response was “It made me feel like I need to go to New Hampshire and get candy!” I love it! Children have the most simple yet innocent responses to life.
Teaching this tool to children allows me to grow in my own practice as well as my own life. It helps guide me to a place within that leads me to a greater sense of purpose. It teaches me how I can improve my life while improving the lives of others. This is the change that I wish to see in the world. My kids are just like Ghandi.