Many times during my life, I have been accused of being overly exuberant, overly excited, and just plain asked, "Are you sure you don't have ADHD?" I tend to be that person who is ready for anything, and when taking on a project, I jump in with two feet, both hands, and usually go head first. Yoga has helped me with this, and my teacher Karen, who is enjoying two months in India jokes with me alot about how she is the string to my kite--she guides me and keeps me from flying off into the wild blue yonder. See I get this "ideas", and because of my drive and past type "A" mentality, my ideas come to fruition, most times for good, like helping to bring the yoga progam to the kids that I adore in jail---sometimes it should be stopped, like when a couple kids came to me and said, "Jen, we want to teach a Sun Sal that we have been trying." In the excitement of the fact that the kids wanted to take on such task, I (jumping with my entire body) said, "Well sure, as long as you take it seriously, and before you teach the class, honor the yoga by bringing in why you picked these poses to add to your Sun Sal." I have to admit, as I was growing up, I was told many times that "you're not able to do that", "what would give you that idea", "are you kidding me--what kind of pie in the sky crazy are you talking." So to say that I am sensitive to people's ideas and beliefs in thier efforts is an understatement. I believe that given enough of a chance--every single person if they come from the place in their heart where the best part of themselves lie--will do good with their life.
As we began practice, there was a different vibe in the jail--we have had 95 inches of snow here in the last month--there was Christmas break and then a week without school because of collapsing danger from the roofs--to say that these kids were restless is like saying a grizzly bear might have a little anger if you poke it with a stick. They were unbelieveable--when there is no school there is nothing for them to do--nothing--but sit in their cells and read, or do yoga or meditate--which for a 12-18 year old kid cannot be done 12 hours per day for 21 days straight. They walked into class and they were --WOW--like they had been sitting in their cells for 3 weeks with nothing to do but read and get mad. I had this voice--Karen would call it the voice of the Goddess of Sequencing--telling me, just teach the class--be the teacher, hold the seat--have a strong practice and get them sweating--breathing, opening, clearing the pathways for their breath--but being me, I plowed forward with my promise that the Sun Sals could be done. The boys were ready, and as the first one took his "seat"-- he explained his Sun Sal and how he has had time to work on it--and then he froze--all those eyes looking at him. The eyes of the boys who thought it was "girly" of him to try and the eyes that looked at me like 'I told you so--this would never work." I could feel it coming, this boy had the fight or flight look on his face, and as the room became smaller all he wanted to do was fly--out of that room--I realized at that moment how important the seat of the teacher is. How being a "teacher" is so much more than calling poses and talking about opening your heart. Being a teacher we hold the coveted responsibility of being the "tour guide" on the yoga journey---we must understand that our seat has been held by many teachers before us--we are not doing anything different than our yoga ancestors were--we are giving our students the ability to aleviate suffering--we are giving out students the ability to know it's ok to shine out from the best part of themselves. The best part of being a yoga teacher, is when the students get the realizeation that they are born of sweetness and that it is safe to live from the best part of themelves. When they soften enough to remember their heart and lead with it during class, it moves me to my core, and to think that I caused suffering to my students who trust me to hold them in a place of love--kills me.
Thanking this brave soul--he thanked me, and asked if he could do it again--WHAT??!! even though it was hard, even though he wanted to run, the pull of yoga on his heart was stronger and he wanted to do it again--maybe that is where the seat of the teacher takes over--maybe that is where the yoga we have worked has instilled the self confidence--maybe next time the boys will be more generous with their thoughts.....maybe next time....maybe next time....
I love that in JDC, we have a next time!