Yesterday I had the pleasure of assisting a room full of high school sport teams experiencing their first yoga class. The room was still warm from teaching my advanced power vinyasa even though we opened the doors. It's getting hot in the Florida summers. I was wet with sweat from the previous class and I dry mop the sweat off the floor. The kids walked into the room and immediately started moaning and groaning about the heat. I was laughing because this was after we cooled the room off. It's still warm. Eventually these kids will grow to love the heat in a yoga room.
They place their mats on the floor and I don't know what to expect. For some reason I assume that because they are athletes that yoga will be easy for them. We ask the students to tell us their experience with yoga and many of them have never done it before. We start them in a standing position and the first thing that I notice is that their posture needs help. Many of them roll their feet into their arches which will affect their knees and hips later in life. We go over the basics of every position so that they know proper alignment when they start flowing. This prevents injury. When they do a forward fold, I'm surprised how inflexible they are. Bend your knees in a forward fold in the beginning to protect your spine. They come down to all fours and we teach them cat and cow pose. There is a simple lack of body awareness with isolating movements like your pelvis or widening your scapula. I teach them the difference between pronate and supinating the shoulders. They eagerly learn, grown and say how it's already helping. One kid says, "I can touch my toes. I have never been able to do this before." I am humbled as a teacher as I watch my teacher Gina Keefe expertly guide beginner beginners how to do the basics of yoga. Rebecca, the other assistant and I say to each other, "I'm so happy Gina is teaching the first one." I learn that I have to go way back to the beginning and teach the basics of every pose. I learn from the students how I can better serve. I also see how badly yoga is needed for our youth. These kids deserve to have healthy bodies. Yoga can do that for them. The need is urgent in my opinion.
The students were great and as I watch them I wonder, "Why isn't yoga taught in school"? These kids need it! They are developing their bodies, growing into their bones and yoga can help set them up for proper body alignment for the rest of their lives. Many of these athletes are so tight that I'm surprised that they haven't already gotten injured. I imagine how these problems grow as people age into adults. Yoga can save them from so many injuries, give them a better range of motion and create a body awareness that I think everyone needs. We live in our skin. The more that we know and understand how our parts work then the less pain that we have. We can live a life of joy, pain free if we are properly guided. Most importantly for these athletes, yoga can help them take off in their sports. As a former triathlete and marathon runner myself, I wish I had yoga. I was taking off in my sports but injuries slowed me down. I know this could have been prevented with proper training and yoga.
I am inspired by the willingness of these kids to get out of their comfort zone and try. They worked hard and many of them are soaking wet with sweat after class. They are gracious after they leave and I mentally think what I can teach these students so that they can be successful. I hope this program continues. I can thank their coach Paul for bringing them to the studio for these kids to experience their first class. For me, yoga has changed my life but that is for another post. For now, I'm just happy to learn and help. I'm excited to foster the excitement and curiosity of yoga for these students. Let the healing begin.