Things I am learning from teaching yoga to 15yo girls
First of all: There IS definitely a reason why my friends and I were always separated in class - especially in grade 9.
Everything is funny when you do it with your friends. Especially if it's new. Especially if you fall over (figuratively or actually) while you're first trying it
Giggling is the main reason we were split up in class. It's difficult to listen when you're giggling, and sometimes, it's difficult to stop the laughter, or to breathe or stay on your chair (not thinking of anyone in particular ;) ).
So it's great to have a bit of fun when you start yoga. Don't take yourself too seriously. Laugh with your friends and at yourself when you try a new pose.
Or anything new. Anything.
We all make mistakes when we do something for the first time. You can berate yourself, or have a laugh. The outcome will not change, only your feelings about yourself and your confidence levels. So laugh, and work on improving. Little by little. Step-by-step.
A little encouragement goes a long way - whether from a teacher, a friend, a classmate or you yourself
A smile. A word of encouragement. A tip on how to go to the next step. We all need help to continue improving. I wanted to do it all myself, but I learnt much quicker when others helped.
Even with simply a smile.
As your friends laugh with you as you fall and encourage you to try again, maybe they give you some advice. This provides you with the motivation, confidence and flexibility of mind to try again. To continue to improve. To learn more.
You may say to yourself 'C'mon! You can do it!' or 'If I just move this...' to give yourself a boost along.
But the words and smiles of others make it a bit easier to push yourself.
So, smile, give a word of encouragement to a friend, a classmate, family or a little kid in a park trying something new. Be the one to provide that encouragement to others - even people you don't know well. There are enough critics in the world already.
Even if you do fall over a bit at the start, it doesn't mean you can't do it
Yoga is an excellent example, but so is anything you try for the first time. Whether physical or mental - you are more likely to make mistakes when you start doing things.
Go back to laughing with others. Laughing at yourself. Providing even a smile or a nod to encourage others or yourself. There is no need to speak sometimes.
Things I hope students began to notice during yoga
It's important to find balance
These groups of year 9 students, most trying yoga for the first time, are full of energy. Some are nervous. Some are excited. A few are not really sure if they want to be there. This balances into a buzzing energy as the class starts, which settles a little following breath work but swings back up as we try some poses new to the class.
But as we move into to tree pose or another balance, the energy shifts. You can feel everyone in the room grounding, finding balance in their breathing and their muscles as they softly focus to stay upright on one leg.
Finding a focal point, but keeping that focus soft - if the focus is too concentrated we are ripped out of balance if we move slightly. The same with anything in life.
Grounding through the foot, but lifting out of the waist and up through the crown of the head. Finding a balance in tension and relaxation. The tension through the vertical line of the body helps us stay upright. But the relaxation of the muscles helps us adjust to slight movements without falling.
It's important to breathe, and breathe deeply.
When we find it difficult to balance, focus or feel where we are, we need to breathe, and breathe deeply.
By watching how our breath moves, following it from nostril to belly and back again, we can find the best way for us to find balance. Both in yoga and in life.
Sometimes silence is best
There times when things are fun and funny for everyone. We can all have a joke and a laugh, and there are no ill effects on those around us. The starts of these classes were like that. Great fun as everyone tried something new.
However, sometimes, even though things are funny for us and our friends, we need to remember that others have their own reasons for doing things, for being there. Wherever 'there' is.
So even if a smart comment, or something our friends will appreciate comes to mind, we need to check on those around us. Are they deeply relaxed? Are they stressed? Are they having trouble understanding? Are they having trouble holding it together?
We don't know what others are going through - but we need to be aware of how others are acting and reacting, and support them as best we can. Sometimes that means we have to zip it - look inwards and keep our comments to ourselves until afterwards, when we're outside. Looking inwards to help both others and ourselves.
Classes are at 4:30pm on Fridays and Sundays in Endeavour Park, Newport (Redcliffe Peninsula)