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Author: Ruth Meagher

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What I did and did not expect. A paradox.

I expected Dr. Seuss books to be the inspiration for planning our week of yoga camp. I did not expect to discover the richness and fullness of ideas and themes that could be found in just one of his books.

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I expected the kids to journal, to reflect on the yoga teachings, and to record their thoughts and feelings in some way. I did not expect the amazing, wonderful journal that the amazing and wonderful BobbiJo created for them.

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I expected the children to be able to create a list of feeling, emotions and heart qualities that they would refer to for their art projects. I did not expected the length of their list, 50 words long, and the depth and quality of the words that they called out, one at a time as they lay there on their mats that very first morning. Words like; grateful, sensitive, passionate, guilty, warm hearted, trusting, confused, dis-connected.

I expected the designing and making of tags for their banners and their community project to be enjoyable and fun. Why wouldn’t it be? Who doesn’t love a bit of coloring, sticking and gluing every now and then? I did not expect the limitless creativity, the focus, the concentration and the pleasure they found in sitting around each morning, creating something from themselves.

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I expected the children to have fun playing ‘The Waiting Place Game’. We based the game on the part in the book ‘Oh, the places you’ll Go!’ where everyone is just waiting. The premise of the game was that you have to be daring; if your not daring, if you don’t allow yourself to be engaged and vulnerable then you are not centered, you are in a slump, you on the outside looking in, you must go to the waiting place. We dared the kids to try a new pose, we dared them to ask for help, we dared them to do a pose on the center mat and we dared them to teach that pose to others.

I did not expect how revealing the game would be. How Clara didn’t dare to do Mountain Laughter pose, it was too embarrassing, and went to the waiting place instead. How she laughed loudly while sitting there and shouted out “I need to un-slump myself!” How quiet and shy some of them were when asking for help and how great they were at making partner poses together.

How Lizzie whispered to her sister, “I am definitely going to the waiting place for dare #4” and then allowed herself to be daring and taught Dark Seed Light to the whole group.

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I did not expect to be lost for words trying to describing how amazingly brilliant they were at creating and sharing their own games.

I expected the children to need help with design ideas and the making of their t-shirts. I did not expect them to be so fiercely independent, so focused and so sure of how they wanted to create and express themselves.

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I did expect the banners to be great. I was excited about the project. The children were going to be working on them all week. They would be decorating their driftwood sticks with duck tape and ribbons, decorating both sides of their felt flag, hanging their heart quality tags from the flag and having a parade at the end of the week. I did not expect the sheer delight and excitement they expressed as they finally put all the different elements of their banners together. I did not expect them, on finishing, to go around the studio planting their banner on a yoga mat and calling out “My Yoga-land!”

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I did expect the adults at the studio to like the community project. It was something beautiful that everyone could connect and interact with. I did not expect the yoga teachers at the studio to be so touched by it, so much so that one of them wanted MORE and so we made some more heart quality sticks to span the entire length of the front windows.

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I did expect a good week. This was the second year of teaching a Summer Yoga Camp together and we had done a lot of planning, organizing and collecting materials. I did expect us to wear the same t-shirt everyday! (A tradition we have carried on since seeing Cheryl and Anabel do this at our first Grounded Training together)

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I did not expect the sense of ease I felt throughout the week. The comfort, stability and groundedness I found in our partnership, the way we fell naturally into taking on different roles and the fluidity of our transitions between activities.

Moving forward, I expect us to grow and develop the kids yoga program at Yoga Montclair AND I look forward to the wisdom, learning and growth to be found in the unexpected.

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Flexibility in my teaching this week came in the form of ‘hold on a minute’ and ‘kids’.

Hold on a Minute

I usually have 15-20 people in my classes but this week there was only 8. When I saw the sign ups on the computer and was thinking; but where is Laura, where are John and Sonya? I was a little disappointed; I wanted everyone to be there so I could tell them all about flexibility. But then I realized that I was doing a disservice to the students who had actually shown up, that it was these students that needed my focus and attention, it was these students who had choosen to practice yoga this evening. As always I took my notes about the theme Flexibility, (taken from yet another amazing Omni Webinar!!) into my Yoga class Monday night and spoke during centering. Early on in the Evolution series we do a 3-part Utkatasana pose. Part one is similar to the standard pose, part two is sitting hips to heels and part three is balancing. I had decided to carry on wearing the t-shirt I had been wearing to my first day of Kids yoga camp. It shows a picture of a boy doing revolved chair pose, which in Kid’s Yoga is called ‘hold on a minute’. At this point in the class I invited my students to be flexible, to show up and engage in what was being presented to them even thought it was unfamiliar. I instructed everyone into hold on a minute pose, to hold the pose for a minute and then do it again on the other side!

Sitting at the front desk after class I noticed that there was a stack of Yoga Journal magazines on the side and I couldn’t believe it when I saw that the top copy had a picture of none other than Parivrtta Utkatasana on the front cover!!! I was so excited that I made sure to show all my students as they left the studio. Matt commented that ‘It was very Vinyasa of me’. I asked Rosa how it had been for her. She said she found it tough, the pose and the unfamiliarity. I was pleased that my initial question had allowed her to open herself up to asking me a question about a pose in the series that she never really understood. John said he had also found the pose very challenging. He went on to explain that he appreciated the help with the cueing in class to engage and straightening his knees, as he had spent years playing hockey, where his stance throughout a game is knees bent. For him the elevation in height and the different feelings that come up in his body just going from bent knees to straight causes a sense of anxiety to start rising up inside him. This yoga is complex and fascinating stuff!


I want to tell you how flexibility in my planning made a young girl’s face light up when I offered her the opportunity to teach a lesson to the other kids at yoga camp. How the lesson theme ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out?’ was tailor made for her. How the lesson plan happened to include a quote from her all time idol Coco Chanel.

The most courageous thing you can do is think for yourself. Aloud.

How this amazing girl, realized how much she loved teaching and wants to do it again and again.

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I want to tell you how flexibility in my planning allowed a beautiful boy to share with us his wealth of knowledge about chakras. How he brought in the notes he had written up, how he showed us the stones that represent each Chakra and how he then taught us a pose he had chosen to go with each one.

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I want to tell you how flexibility in my perspective allowed a boy, with limited awareness of his physical body, to be successful in crow pose by showing him how to do it on his back. I want to tell you how flexibility in not doing everything myself created a bond between 2 girls as they worked together to write out the word of the day and the alignment action.

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I want to tell you how holding space allowed a girl to help her friend find words of wisdom to share with the universe, ‘love life and follow your dreams’

I want to tell you how flexibility in changing the rules of a game allowed even the quietest and shyest of children to be in a space that was unknown and unfamiliar and find the power within them to teach a new pose to everyone.

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I want to tell you how allowing time and space for growth manifested itself in a tentative smile grow bigger and bigger on the face of the quietest of little angels over the week. How she couldn’t contain herself and giggled with excitement and sheer delight as we played our very last game. And how it came forth in her writing too.

I want to tell you about how flexible this amazing group of children was. How they showed up and engaged fully in what was being presented to them. How they had loud temper tantrums in the pose ‘calm down’, how they held a pose for one minute and then did it again on the other side. How they sang and chanted ‘I am happy, I am good’ and ‘I am the light of my soul, I am light, I am, I am, I am’. How they told us about accepting and staying true to themselves by doing or not doing things that are expected of them because of their gender. How they wrote phrases like, ‘patience now, you’ll get there’, ‘yoga was perfect’, ‘thank you yoga’.

How they told us what yoga means to them:

Yoga is a peaceful place where you can relax and breath
Yoga is patience
Yoga is an exercise where people calm down

How they worked together to created an amazing mandala and chatted and laughed together as they painted rock with the intention of putting their art out into the world.

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How they supported each other as they were tested for their bandanas in the Solid Ground Flow, and how they supported each other in-group poses.

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Atlanta Yoga Movement


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