how do you teach yoga to teens? you start by teaching Truth. speak to the highest in them. they will get it when you tell them that they are a spiritual being in a physical body and that they are immeasurably powerful. when they root their feet into their mat, into the earth in Mountain pose they will feel steady and strong; a steadiness they themselves create becomes a thing they can rely upon. when their feet are rooted into the earth, they will become rooted in their integrity. when they are faced with difficult situations they can breathe into steadiness, root into their integrity and make grounded choices.
when you have been teaching high school students yoga every week for many weeks, they are going to get it that the feelings that come up on the mat– say while holding a difficult pose like plank– mirror for them the ways they react to difficult situations in their life. they are naturally making connections between the way they feel in their yoga practice and the choices they make in their lives. they have been trusting this journey inward with you for some time now.
one day Something Horrible happens in their community. everyone is talking about It. swirling and weblike and suffocating are all of these: confusion and fear and anger and outrage and compassion and love and disdain and judgment and sadness and fear. your students have been eating and breathing and sleeping and wearing all of these for several days when you meet them on the mat. how will you teach your students the week that Something Horrible happens?
you know that you will not teach glorious poses. you sit in silence on your mat while your students file in to class. they naturally follow your lead. they sit still and quiet on their mats. for some it is still hard to sit still. you ask them to close their eyes. for some it is still so hard to close their eyes. you tell them that today’s class is about Truth. and you remind them by holding your hand over your gut where feelings come from and remind them that their feelings don’t lie. because they’ve come to expect you to talk about Real things they are really really present. you will teach your students today about allowing difficult feelings to reside within them without rushing to get over them. you will give them the most basic poses to hold, with good alignment, even when it feels hard. you will remind them that feeling the feelings is harder and higher than telling themselves a story that makes them feel better.
you tell them that, in any community, what happens to one, happens to all. just like with our heros. when the star football player makes a great play, and the team wins, we all win. we love the star player. we are the star player. i am he and you are me and we are we and we are all together. it’s the same when Something Horrible happens. we are all together in this. the highs school students align their bones, root their feet, and tether to their breathing through several rounds of sun salutations with long held planks and without any glory.
you arranged their yoga mats in concentric circles. you allowed the Something Horrible-that-happened-to-one-of-their-classmates to reside in the center of the room and you asked them to be present; to feel real feelings; to breathe into their hearts. they did all these things. they were steady and true. they blew your mind because you know lots of grown people who were have trouble being present with the feelings that came in the wake of the Something Horrible. and when your mind is blown your heart melts in gratitude… that the students are the teacher.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling has many meanings. I have found the meaning to be Love Conquers All But as you look more closely at the inner-workings of her books you figure out that each book represents a different Chakra. Chakras are energy centers located along the midline of the body.
The first chakra represents stable family roots basically our foundation. In the first book, Harry doesn’t have a family and feels unwelcome. His chakra is under active. He was forced to live with his magic hating relatives- The Dursleys. They have a son Dudley who has an over active chakra. He is very greedy and bullies Harry. When Harry found out he was a wizard and got accepted into Hogwarts, he went there on instinct, not knowing what to expect. He heard Professor McGonagall say, “While you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts”, and knew he had found his home and balanced his first chakra.
The second chakra represents identity- the idea of knowing who you are and expressing that. When the second book begins, Harry is still struggling with the idea that the Sorting Hat thought he would be great in Slytherin, but put him in Gryffindor because he asked him to. He is very withdrawn and hopes to figure this out when he gets to Hogwarts. But, the Chamber of Secrets has been opened by the heir a Slytherin (or so they say) and a monster is petrifying Muggle borns. When Harry discovers that he shares characteristics with Slytherin himself like talking to snakes he is even more confused. Finally while rescuing Ginny from The Chamber of Secrets and defeating the monster the sword of Gryffindor come to him through the Sorting hat. He then figures out he is a true Gryffindor. Dumbledore tells that the Sorting Hat placed him in Gryffindor because it’s not your abilities that make you who you are; it’s your choices. Harry then balances his second chakra.
The third chakra is the power chakra. When Harry Potter comes to Hogwarts in the third book, he faces his biggest challenge yet, Dementors. Dementors are the guards of Azkaban- the wizard prison- and there’s a reason that no one ever escapes from Azkaban. Dementors are soul-sucking monsters. They make you feel like you can never be happy again. They basically take away your third chakra. The only way to defeat them is to cast the Patronus Charm. Harry’s teacher Professor Lupin trys to teach Harry that charm, but it is extremely difficult because you have to feel happy and in control. You have to balance your third chakra and not feel indecisive and timid. It is especially difficult for Harry because the dementor brings back memories of the night his parents died. Harry finally masters the spell when Dementors attack his godfather, Sirius Black. And therefore balances his third chakra.
The fourth chakra is the heart chakra and is related to our ability to be centered and peaceful. Harry starts his fourth year by being entered in the Tri-Wizard Tournament, a competitive sometimes-deadly game between three schools. Someone at this school entered him illegally. The only thing that keeps him in the competition is the love for his friends and school. At first he is distant towards the people who try to help him in the tournament but then he learns he has to open up to those around him in order to compete well. When Harry and a fellow contestant Cedric Diggory get sent to a graveyard to be killed, Harry shows compassion toward Cedric when he dies it helps him escape the graveyard alive. He then proceeds to win the tournament and balance his fourth chakra.
The fifth chakra is related to talking and self-expression. It allows us to communicate. When the fifth book starts Harry is afraid Lord Voldemort possesses him. He is afraid that everyone around him will get hurt and is silent even towards his friends. He even trys to run away. Eventually thanks to his friends and some jokes and laughter from Fred and George Weasley he was able to communicate effectively and talk about it. He has balanced his fifth chakra.
The third eye represents the sixth chakra, its all about the mind and visualization. In the fifth book, Voldemort was able to go inside Harry’s mind and send him untrue pictures. When the sixth book starts, Harry is unable to close his mind to Voldemort, so Dumbledore gives him lessons to help him balance his sixth chakra or master his mind. The lessons help and Harry completely balances his sixth chakra and masters his mind.
When you think of the seventh chakra, you think of spiritually and a higher self. When I first read the seventh book I didn’t really understand it. I thought that Harry just came back to life because Dumbledore let him. But as years passed and I kept reading the book over and over I finally understood. It really represents the 7th chakra. Its all about higher beings and life or death. It also ties together the true meaning of the book which is love conquers all. It even conquers death sometimes. That is a great lesson to learn.