Yoga: Letting Go and Trying Something New

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Last week, I went to yoga expecting my normal class.  To my surprise, class was cancelled due to an arm balance and inversion workshop.  Since I was there, I decided to go for it, with a little hesitation.  I’ve gained strength doing yoga, but still struggle with balances and being comfortable being upside down.  As I walked into the crowded room, I assumed I’d be the only one who couldn’t do a headstand.

Luckily, the workshop started off slowly with warmups and more basic postures.  I decided to give everything a try because what did I have to lose?!  As the workshop continued and the instructor demonstrated inversions and more advanced positions, I realized others were giving the same looks of bewilderment and I was not alone in beginning inversions.  Everyone gave her best effort, with some falling and laughter along the way.

By the end of the workshop, I had done a pike headstand independently, and a full headstand and handstand with someone spotting me.  I’m capable of doing it, I just need to figure out where my body should be independently to balance.  I was proud of my efforts.

As a new school is about to begin, I think of bringing this same mindset to my new role.  As a special education teacher, I’ll be working with a variety of students at different ability levels.  They will need to learn new skills and be supported along the way.  They will be given modifications, not to make things easier, but to help them be successful at their level.  As time goes on, they will be given challenges as well.  This will allow them to grow, learn, and build self-confidence.  Then, hopefully, they will feel balanced and proud of their efforts as well.

Lessons from Yoga

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In the past year, I’ve become an avid yoga enthusiast.  I only practice 1-2 times per week, but when I get in that zone, it is a true destresser.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to clear my mind, but after class I always feel so much better.  And if my mind begins to wander, I lose my focus and fall out of poses!  I’ve also used the breathing techniques to help me calm down in daily life events.  As I’ve increased my practice, I’ve also realized lessons from yoga that can be applied to daily life and the classroom.  Below outlines lessons we can bring into our daily lives.

  • Yoga is differentiated-everyone has different abilities and is at different stages of their practice and that is okay.  There are different options with the poses that the instructor shares, and you get the choice of how far to go based on your flexibility and level.  There are tools to use, such as a block or strap for additional support so you can try a more advanced option.  Also, you are focused on yourself rather than comparing to others around yourself.  Yes, I do look around, in awe of people who can do crazy balances, and know I am not there yet.  And that is okay.
  • Throughout yoga, you are focused on yourself and your breath.  You use this breath to help you push through poses.  Any other thoughts are pushed to the wayside.  Throughout the class, you take moments to return to your breath to regain focus or slow down after a difficult sequence or pose.  If you struggled, this is a chance to regain neutral ground and keep going.  This is why yoga is seen as a stress relief and confidence booster.
  • At the beginning of each class, an intention is set.  Sometimes the instructor gives you a suggestion, sometimes you create your own.  Usually these are a word or a phrase, the reason you decided to come to class that day.  Imagine if everyone woke up and set an attention to try their best, listen to themselves, appreciate the world, or be awesome everyday!
  • Yoga is about growth.  Each class you can push yourself further or try something new.  Over time, you gain strength and can notice the difference.  Then you can set new goals.  There are poses I am doing now that I didn’t think were possible for my body to do; one day I decided to try and succeeded!  It was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and helped my confidence grow.  The worst thing that happens, is you fall out of a pose; then you try again.  I watch others who have succeeded and have something to aspire to as I gain more strength.  Also, the instructors are very supportive-they offer feedback throughout class and are willing to help and assist if you want.
  • At the end of class, time is spent to relax and recover; often, everyone breathes together as a community.  In her closing remarks, the instructor says to leave what happened on the mat.  Throughout class she also says to listen to your body-some days you may be capable of doing more than others, but what is important is you came to class and gave effort.  Everyone worked their hardest and deserves the chance to revel and take in that moment.

As I continue my practice and build strength, I hope to also bring these lessons into other moments of my life.

Namaste!