Every week, 6 of us pile up in a car armed with yoga mats, some art supplies, a few ideas for games and a plan to inspire. We share stories about our week, we laugh at the absurdities of life and we get ourselves prepared to go into our assigned group homes to teach yoga. The six of us are building such a great little community and forming a bond over our joint vision of bringing a practice, that we love and have so much faith in, to a community of children who are so in need of ways to cope with a life most of us couldn’t handle as adults. In the beginning, the children did not know what to expect and they were mostly interested in testing boundaries. The children found it very difficult to participate in the basic practice of staying on their mats. As one child began to focus, 5 others lost focus and then as I gained the attention of one other child, I lost the focus of 2 other children. It was anything other than what I expected. I truly anticipated guiding these children through a 45 minute, awe inspiring, strength based, power yoga practice with inspiring music that I had compiled just for their practice. We would start with light yet energetic rhythm’s to integrate them into the practice and onto their mats, powerful and motivating music picked from current top 40 playlists to lead them through the power vinyasa’s and then calming yet meaningful music to send them into Savasana. All the while I would be providing insights about their bodies and lending heartfelt inspirational words catapulting them into an alternate reality where they would have no other choice than to want to fully step into their most amazing selves, walking away forever changed…..NOPE, didn’t happen!!! The class was pretty much mayhem! The kids pretty much wanted to stop after about the 3rd Chaturanga. At varying times and at the same time, children were asking when this would be over, telling me it’s too hard, they couldn’t participate due to some ailment, etc. They were loud and not listening, staff were redirecting, I had to turn the music down or off because rather than bringing them into the practice, it was just more distraction. After closing with a Namaste (many kids having already left) my teaching partner and I loaded up our mats and supplies, sat in the car, turned to each other and LAUGHED! What else were we going to do, but laugh! We both still agreed that we loved it, but we would need to switch it up a bit. We have since been at this every Tuesday for the last 2 1/2 months and we are still adjusting our teaching methods and developing a curriculum catered to the needs of the children with whom we are serving. The first thing that had to go was the 45 minute yoga practice. WHAT WAS I THINKING!? We incorporated games that would encourage team building and community building. We also incorporated art projects that would teach the identified aspect of yoga for that week. The actual yoga practice was brought down to about 15 minutes. 20 minutes tops! We focused on breathing exercises and Om’ing! You could never guess how much these kids LOVE to Om! They are learning to be leaders as they eagerly raise their hands to be the next one to lead the next om! We are now also able to incorporate a longer yoga practice. We are now at about 30 minutes or so! They all seem to be getting into a rhythm and they are really learning! It is so exciting to hear them end the practice with the now memorized, “The light in me honors and respects the light in you, Namaste”. It’s so not perfect, as we still have children talking out of turn, being distracting and distracted, yelling across the room, tossing blocks and hitting each other with the straps (which we were just recently confident enough to incorporate in the practice.) We still have commotion in the back ground at times and children not able to participate for some reason or the other, but we have made great strides! I am so thankful when I see staff participating! I am also completely overjoyed when I see a kiddo, who has been placed on restriction in his room, participate in the yoga practice from his doorway! This actually happened twice with the same kiddo! He was finally able to actually join last week and he’s a natural yogi! Thank you to my yoga community/friends who join me every week to make this happen! I couldn’t do this without them and I only wish we could turn the car into a bus so we could add more. Maybe soon:-)

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