It’s a normal day at work for me. I enter a classroom full of enthusiastic 6-8 year old children. Unfortunately, it’s a rainy day so the children have little outside playtime today, which means their energy level is sky-high. So I let them run around for a bit before I ask them to sit down in a circle. We start by taking a deep breath which immediately brings the concentration back in the room and takes everyone to the present moment. The class is ready to start.
Ah, the power of breathing. Sometimes we forget the importance of it. A simple breath can help you calm down, release anxiety and just bring you back to the present moment. A simple breath can change the energy of an entire classroom full of highly energized children. And breathing is just one of the many wonderful aspects of a lovely movement practice called yoga. And that movement practice has become an essential part of Moving Educators.
Yoga with children. Photo by: Victoria Guiraldes
It’s a lifestyle
The growing popularity of yoga has been interesting to witness. Yoga has become a lifestyle. Everywhere I travel, people inform me they either practice yoga actively or are planning to do so. I have met countless women and men that did yoga teacher trainings and my favorite online yoga teacher (Yoga with Adriene) has over 3 million followers on her YouTube channel.
And once you’re in the ‘yoga circle’, it’s hard to get out. Facebook advertisements show me which new yoga supplies to buy, yoga studios are popping up everywhere and my Instagram feed is full of people in impossible but awesome poses. It’s a trend which, I have to admit, has infected me too… While practicing yoga during a breathtaking sunrise on a gorgeous beach in Brazil I asked a friend to take some pictures. It does sometimes make me wonder and question my intentions and those of others. Yoga has such a beautiful rich history and meaning. What is left of it now? (I could write a whole new blog post about this subject.)
Yoga Teacher Training, Bali, Indonesia
How it started
For me, my first experiences were actually not that great. I took my first class when I was living in NYC in 2009. Even though I had been dancing for such a long time and had just finished my Bachelor degree in Dance Education, I had trouble making it through the class. The poses combined with the breathing and lying in one pose for a couple of minutes just drove me crazy. I was short of breath, my mind was going insane and I didn’t particularly like the slow voice of the teacher. The whole thing just annoyed me.
If only I had known back then that yoga is all about learning how to connect your breath with movement, calm the mind and surrender to what is. Things most people, including myself, have a lot of trouble with, especially living in a fast world like we do. So I didn’t practice yoga again until I was recovering from a lower back injury a couple of years later. This time I did learn to surrender and miraculously it helped me cope with my injury. Ever since then, I have been practicing yoga almost every day.
Yoga kids training, Boulder, Colorado
Practicing to teaching
Never did I imagine teaching yoga to kids. Teaching dance to children was what I did every day, yoga was something just for me. Until I followed a children’s yoga course in Boulder, Colorado (U.S.A.). I realized a lot of the movement exercises and ways of teaching were very much like my own way of teaching I had developed throughout the years. I absolutely loved it. Even more than in dance, yoga is about connection. It’s about easing the mind and getting comfortable with your body. Through meditation, we can teach children to live in the moment and to find happiness within themselves. To me, that is the most beautiful thing we can give them.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Yoga in Argentinian schools
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, I met Victoria Guiraldes, a yoga teacher and artist. In Buenos Aires, a lot of schools have been integrating yoga as a tool in their classrooms. Victoria has been working with elementary school teachers for a long time and helps them teach yoga to young children. She explained to me that yoga helps the children to calm down, release tension and develop a better concentration during long school days.
Victoria has created a wonderful book where she combines yoga poses with drawings of nature. There is also a CD with her own music (in Spanish) to play during class. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the book and it’s absolutely beautiful:
The thing I love the most about yoga is that it creates an open space for everyone to be themselves. It matches so well with dance, because both are movement practices and move you on the outside and from within. I encourage everyone to try it sometime, even if it’s just a short breathing exercise before another learning assignment. I hope it brings you as much joy and peace of mind as it does for me and the children I teach.