Yoga for the Young Athlete…and All Ambitious Kids!
This is a new yoga class that I am running for grades 5-12. It is held at Open Spirit at Edwards Church, 39 Edwards Street, Framingham, MA from 4:30-5:30PM Mondays (except on school holidays). is a new multi-faith center for the wider community, a place to celebrate and strengthen our connectedness, to promote healing and wholeness, and to experience spiritual nourishment.
I have been teaching my veterans yoga class at this same location for about a year now and the center has expanded its focus to include more community based classes in yoga, Tai Chi, spirituality and flamenco! I am offering a Family Yoga class (Monday 3:30-4:30), Yoga for the Young Athlete…and All Ambitious Kids (grades 5-12; Monday 4:30-5:30); I teach in rotation a free Veteran’s Yoga class (along with Lynn Stoller and Michael Thomas; Monday 6:00-7:30PM); Family Flamenco (Thursday 4:30-5:30) and Adult/Teen Flamenco (Friday 10:00-11:15AM).
The first meeting of Athlete Yoga we spent our time exploring how yoga can be a great companion for all the other things we do in our life: sports, schoolwork, musical instruments/singing, busy time, free time, happy time, sad time, angry time….We gathered a list of activities we like to do: Basketball, Bicycling, Hiking, Piano, Saxophone, Sing, Ski/Snowboard, Surf, Swim and Tennis. Over the weeks, we will explore each session focusing on one of the activities Classes will include breath-work (Pranyama), poses (Asana) and Meditation. We will also listen to stories and music, color, talk about healthy living choices and how to bring our yoga off the mat and into the world.
Swimming was chosen as our first “activity”, as it is something that all the students enjoy. None of these kids are on a swim team but they all enjoy swimming just the same (minus the competitive edge). A yoga practice can complement even an amateur’s swim routine by introducing strength building and flexibility. Asanas (postures) utilize body weight as a powerful source of resistance: Outside of the water, gravity helps to build strength and muscle. In addition, postures take the body through a full range of motion, encouraging flexible, supple muscles that are less prone to injury.
We started today’s class outside at the church’s labyrinth. The kids naturally took to completing the spiral in and then out, sensing the need to follow the path in and out, noticing that somehow it seemed necessary to do this. Feeling the evenness in their bodies and their minds upon completion. The entered and exited repeatedly, sometimes walking slowly, sometimes following each other and at other times running around each curve. In the end, they ended up in the center, smiling and sitting with each other.
*Dog in Prayer 2
We also talked about being mindful, staying in the present moment both in yoga and in life. I read them the story “The Three Questions” adapted from a book by Leo Tolstoy. Jon J. Muth recasts a short story by Tolstoy into picture-book format, substituting a boy and his animal friends for the czar and his human companions. Yearning to be a good person, Nikolai asks, “When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?” Sonya the heron, Gogol the monkey and Pushkin the dog offer their opinions, but their answers do not satisfy Nikolai. He visits Leo, an old turtle who lives in the mountains. While there, he helps Leo with his garden and rescues an injured panda and her cub, and in so doing, finds the answers he seeks. As Leo explains, “There is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.” Moral without being moralistic, the tale sends a simple and direct message unfreighted by pomp or pedantry. Muth’s art is as carefully distilled as his prose. A series of misty, evocative watercolors in muted tones suggests the figures and their changing relationships to the landscape. Judicious flashes of color quicken the compositions, as in the red of Nikolai’s kite (the kite, released at the end, takes on symbolic value). An afterword describes Tolstoy and his work.
We ended class in the playground.