On My Way – Becoming Certified Grounded & Teaching Yoga in Middle School
Last night felt surreal. I was standing in my kitchen with Lee, Amy & Cheryl when they handed me a single piece of cardstock with the words ‘Certified Grounded Teacher.’ I felt my throat clench and my heart skip a beat. Though I have been teaching Grounded Yoga for over a year, it was this small piece of recognition that let me know that I am now officially recognized as part of one of the greatest movements of my lifetime.
Once I received my 200hr teacher training in 2012, I had begun leading my daughter’s classes at school once a week and eventually took over the Tween class at my studio. I pulled resources from all around- other teachers, online sites, books, games…everything I could find to help create a well-rounded class. It was a year of growth and some things worked and some failed miserably. What I did know was that I loved teaching children- their honesty in their bodies and mouths and they way it was starting to create a shift in their perspective. My dear friend and teacher, Lee introduced me to Grounded in early 2013 when she came home lit UP from Level 1 training. I watched her do Go To Your Room and that’s literally ALL it took! I knew that something special was going on with Grounded…something that hadn’t been done before…something that was about to change how the world looks at kid’s yoga. We put a plan together to “sell” our yoga program to our school as a full-time yoga curriculum. And it WORKED! I decided to take the Level 1 training just after school started so we could teach the same material and use each other to bounce ideas and begin to try to understand the huge undertaking we’d just landed.
The rest of the school year was filled with Level 2 & 3 and some of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I was teaching 4-8th grade yoga every day, and high school classes whenever possible. We met many challenges along the way, especially as it relates to effective communication between us and the teachers regarding expectations. We also felt the force of middle school resistance and cooler-than-yoga attitudes from a few who just didn’t want it! We were teaching as part of a school day curriculum, not as an elective or after school club. Not everyone on their mat wanted to be there. But it didn’t take long before they, their classmates, teacher and parents began to see a dynamic change happening and word spread quickly about how much FUN we were all having.
Some days we got really grounded, focusing on alignment, muscle groups, anatomy and growing roots. Some days we laughed really big, got creative, wrote in journals and on our friend’s backs. Some days we cried and talked about bullying and gossip and how it tears down the very fiber of our beings. We said sorry, we hugged and promised to love bigger and better the next day. Sometimes we talked about yoga’s benefits for menstrual cycles, surprised our athletes with headstands and 3-stacked planks, and gave a student a special chance to shine with a crow pose he’d practiced for weeks. We choreographed an amazing flow to One Tribe by the Black Eyed Peas in just 4 practices! We found out that we really could still our bodies and quiet our minds for a whole 5 minute Savasana and that is was totally worth it! I have watched over them, struggling and resisting until they finally surrendered- into a pose, into an acceptance, into giving into their own grace. I have seen them create beautiful poses all on their own and teach it better than I could’ve! I’ve heard them describe benefits of poses I’d never even considered! It is a completely different experience with children; more honest and certainly more challenging, but in ALL the best ways. They don’t come in to please. They come just as they are.
I am forever changed by the incredible small (and not-so-small) people all around me. I can never repay the gift of learning I’ve experienced at their hand; I can only continue on this journey with gratitude and joy in my heart and lightness in my feet. I wish this to all of you reading. You are GROUNDED, lucky you. We are pioneers on this path and have SO much good work to do! As someone really cool once said, “You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes…Get on your way!”
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