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thumbs up and a high five

Guest Blogger and Peace through Yoga Teacher, Sara Naderi

Kids’ Yoga doesn’t invoke a picture of organized calm and peace. Kids are so honest you will know right away if your students have lost interest. I was naturally a bit anxious as I drove to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as a representative of Peace Through Yoga to teach two twenty minute yoga lessons to the museum guests.

The Children’s Museum had only been open for half an hour this Saturday morning and it was already bustling with energetic children and their parents. The classes were held in the Sunburst Atrium, with an alluring gift shop to the left, the delicious Food Court to the right, and a fantastic grand Chocolate Slide directly in front of me. Did I have any chance at seeming interesting among all the colorful distractions, not to mention the hustle and bustle of passers-by?

The fifth limb of yoga, Pratyahara, talks about the withdrawal of the senses. Would these children be able to focus and follow while at one of the best children’s Museums in the country? On top of that I had to withdraw my senses and turn inward to focus on my task at hand. 

Before I knew it, the helpful museum staff announced the start of my class. Little eager yogis appeared out of the crowd and stepped onto a mat. The smiles on their faces were reassuring. A few parents joined in as well, and to my delight, everyone followed along and did the poses. I was inspired by the museum’s popular new exhibit, Circus—Starring YOU! and was sure to incorporate some circus-themed poses and props. 

Savasana, our final pose, is time for deep relaxation. There, amidst the motion and activity of the museum, a group of very still, young yogis lay flat on their backs with eyes closed. It was surreal and beautiful. 

Parents pushing strollers, families hurrying to get to their next destination, and onlookers from the floor above us gave more than an occasional curious glance at the still bodies. Maybe they wanted to join in but were too self-conscious. Maybe they were just curious and learned something new on this day.

As the children wiped down their yoga mats, several parents came over to say thank you. The first session was over and not only had I had fun, I felt relaxed, more confident and ready for the next class.

The second session ended as quickly as it started and little bodies scattered into the crowds. As I began to gather my belongings, a fair-skinned, blond-haired girl with sweet blue eyes walked up and gave me a big smile and a thumbs up! “You did a great job!” she said enthusiastically. I was pleasantly surprised hearing this from a child, and it meant more to me than anyone else saying it. She then offered me a high five and then demonstrated her favorite pose of the day. 

As it turns out, this was her first time doing yoga. Child’s Pose, which I referred to as “Seed,” was her favorite pose. She told me that she often gets frustrated in school and thought that this pose would help her calm down. I sat beside her and suggested she use her breathing techniques to calm herself in school, and then when she came home she could go into the safety of “Seed” pose. 

I asked her where her parents were, thinking surely they had sent her over to say thank you, but she pointed to her mom looking over from the Food Court. This little yogi came to me on her own volition. I admired her honesty and courage to share her feelings with me. 

This nine-year-old had gained a valuable tool to manage her frequent frustration. She had brightened my day and made this event so meaningful. We never know when we touch someone’s life for the better. This little angel certainly touched mine with a thumbs up and a high five!

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