What do you get when you put one yoga instructor in a gym with 90 elementary school students? Chaos, of course.
Today I had the pleasure of teaching yoga to the students of New Foundation Charter School in Philadelphia as part of their health fair. During the 5 hours of teaching yoga I made some interesting observations. The most obvious was that the students who were the best behaved were the students who's teacher was present and involved. A more subtle observation was the kid's level of self-consciousness.
The younger kids just came in and had fun. They all wanted to show off what they could do. The flipped and "crab walked" all around. They were so free and happy. There was no sense of guardedness that I noticed from the older students. I started to wonder at what age do we start feeling self-conscious? Is it just a rite of passage or did something happen that makes us self-conscious? From today's observations, I would say that it happens around 5th grade. It's usually the time when most kids hit puberty. Maybe that's what makes some kids so self-conscious.
It takes a little time to get 90 students to put their shoes on and leave the gym before the next group comes in. At one point, one of the 8th grade teachers comes into the gym and asks the group to leave. "It's 12:01 and we're suppose to be in the gym at 12:00" he says. He must be a pitta, I thought. He wanted to know exactly what I wanted his students to do. Funny guy...... A plan? He wanted me to have a plan? Was he kidding? He did a really good job of keeping his students on task. Later on, I was having lunch in the teacher's lounge. This same 8th teacher was there. I didn't know anyone and was feeling a little self-conscious myself.
The teachers were talking about the activities planned for the last couple of weeks of school. Picnics and field trips. Most of the teachers were looking forward to it. Not the 8th grade teacher. He likes things to be structured and orderly he says. He much prefers to be in the class room where it's more controlled -- I was right, he's a pitta. LOL. He is more comfortable in his own environment. So were some of the kids. Some just ran around like wild animals. Others, stood there, unsure of themselves. They weren't comfortable when they didn't know what was expected of them. Was it puberty or Pitta?
Flexibility is another thing, when do we lose it? The younger kids could do the most amazing things with their bodies. The older kids - a big percentage of them couldn't touch their toes. How does that happen?
My conclusion is that it's so much more fun to be 6yrs old than it is to be 13yrs old. Since there isn't much we can do about growing up and getting older maybe we can hold on to just a little bit of being 6yrs old by trying to have fun. Experience joy. Look for joy. Do silly, fun stuff and forget for a little while to be self-conscious.
What do you get when you put one yoga instructor in a gym with 90 elementary school students? Fun, of course!