For four weeks, I am joining a group of young ladies at Harrison Middle School to explore themes in yoga. It is easy to forget that yoga is not simply about wrapping yourself up into a pretzel shape or performing amazing feats of athleticism. Rather, it is about tuning into our bodies and becoming more familiar with our internal states. This can prove to be especially challenging for middle school students who are so outwardly focused and engaged socially and with peers. And yet, it is a critical time to start teaching them to tune in, to notice, to observe, and to let go internal judgement and criticism.
We start each class by focusing on a particular theme: Strength, Flexibility, Balance, and Peace. These themes are important explorations on the mat as we flow through postures that challenge or enhance those capabilities. They are also important qualities off the mat: in what ways might we need more strength and stability in our lives? How can we set an intention to be more flexible? In what ways might our lives be out of balance that we can bring them back in?
We explore these questions at the end of each practice, and each take a bead to remind us throughout the week of our intentions. Students spoke of strength required to persevere through challenging tasks, committed to flexibility with their siblings, and intended to sleep more in order to balance their lives.
Below is a blog about it from Harrison Middle School: