Recently I finished teaching a six week yoga class at St. Christopher’s – a non-profit organization just outside of NYC that supports children, youth and families with special needs. My class had seven participants aged 6-12 years old.
The class was extremely rewarding, and also challenging! Each student had individual issues, and all required one-on-one attention, which is obviously impossible to give to seven students at the same time! Often, while I was helping one, another would lose focus. One student was not a fan of physical activity and wanted to sit out most of the time. The first session, I don’t believe she did anything. Another student found the basketball hoop incredibly distracting, as he loved to play basketball. It was also tricky to get the difficulty level right – some students found the poses too easy, others were struggling. Some wanted to do everything slowly, others wanted to rush through. The student who wanted to play basketball tried to do everything really fast so that he could finish early and shoot some hoops.
A challenge! However, over the six weeks, I noticed how the students initial energy and anxiety changed into ease and routine. The whole group became calmer as the weeks went by. They could hold poses for longer. There was less distraction. Even the girl who didn’t want to participate joined in. She would always arrive early, so I took to spending some time speaking with her before each session, asking about her week, what she was wearing (she was really into fashion!), and what she enjoyed doing in the warmer weather. By the last session, she was doing most of the poses.
Before this class, I had researched the benefits of yoga on the mind, and it is something that has considerably helped me personally, too. So seeing these kids get excited for 45 minutes of their week, and seeing how the yoga impacted them, was really so rewarding. They taught me the importance of keeping to a consistent pace and routine. They also taught me about balancing different people’s needs in order to create something that’s comfortable for everyone. They also taught me that it’s not easy to plan a class!
However, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I hope to return to St. Christopher’s – to see my amazing students again, but also to bring yoga to a whole new group of students.