Love is unity; the moment it is divided, it is no longer love. --Red Hawk
I generally have a "loose" plan for my classes in JDC, not having consitant students opens me to a freedom of class that does not happen in any other class i teach. This Monday was no different-- one of many new students filed in-- the regulars took their spots on the mats, the new kids walk around like deer full of muscle energy and ready to react at any moment. I calmly break the silence and fear with a cheerful-- "Welcome to class find any mat you'd like and sit down." They do just that, still on red alert.
One of the boys who filed in was told by one of the guards where to sit, they began by telling me he was slow and that they would need him to sit by them-- this is my favorite student, one who the staff feels they cannot control, but one who responds well to yoga-- many of the "most out of control" kids have the greatest response to the attention that yoga brings.
We begin by talking a few minutes about what they are thinking right now, and some kids say they are thinking they are excited, some are thinking of twhat they just ate for dinner, some are thinking that they just want out of there. My new friend, said he's thinking of me--- "Why are you so nice to me?" he asked, "why did you bring me this mat and what are we going to do?" He then proceeded to go immediately into a handstand like pose and the guards set him back on his mat-- I gave them the "please don't interrupt my kids look" and they moved away from him. I asked my new friend if he ever did yoga, and he said yes-- but he meant no, and I asked him if he could wait until we were ready to get started, he agreed and sat PERFECTLY still until after the centering. We began with breath, I could hear him breathing, shallow, short breaths, the breaths of anxiety, I went and stood behind him and put my hand on his back, he softened, not a lot but a litle and after a few moments we began our class.
My pseudo-plan for this class was to talk about how our beliefs are formed about anything, so after a few warmups we spoke about Vira II, and if the regular kids could talk about how it feels to do it, and one boy said I feel strong, I feel like a warrior and then I asked them how they felt the first time, and one boy said, stupid, like I looked crooked like yoga was for girls. After transitioning to the other side, I asked them again how they came to think that it was stupid, or that they looked crooked if they had never done it and that it was for girls-- and they couldn't answer, one boy said, "I guess maybe because I was told that this yoga was dumb by a nother kid and I just thought it was cause he said it and I just wanted to be with the big kids so I believed him."
My new friend, worked hard at the poses, he was a ball of energy for sure, but he worked hard, calling me over every pose to see if he was doing it right-- I put one of my most studious boys next to him and they worked togehter-- my new friend said," I don't think it's dumb I never thought about it before, I jsut thought we were coming out to play and I wanted to play so when they said Yoga, I didn't know what it mean, I just followed the other boys."
The boys worked hard, we worked with hip openers, they hate those, they are so tight-- but they worked and in meditation, as the other boys sat, breathing, I walked over to my new friend who was breathing again with great anxiety-- short top of the chest breaths, barely an inhale and barely an exhale-- but he sat trying.
At the end of class he walked around and collected all the eye pillows from the boys, and thanked them for coming ( so sweet ). The boys were going to make fun of him, but didn't when I commented on how much I appreciated his help.
As the boys left, my new friend shook my hand and said see you later, you can read me a story I like you-- it was heart renching to see him walk to his cell knowing that there is no story, just his room, the dark and the thoughts going through his head.
One of my fav guards came up and said, "He ran away that's why he's here, he ran away from his mom because they have been living in a dumpster-- we've had a lot of problems with him hording food, we don't know what to do with him-- He likes you, he has never even spoke to any of us.. that's the most we heard him talk, we thought he couldn't talk."
With my mouth hung open, I couldn't speak, each of us who come to our mat, have a story, as a teacher I cannot forget that, we come with a belief system and we come with expectations and we come cloaked and scared--
Keep your eye on the bandaged place
That is where the light gets in