Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Well-Behaved Yoga Students

I would have to say that most of the people I lead yoga to are well-behaved. There's usually more disruption from my inner voices when I'm teaching than from any disturbances out in the room while I'm leading a class, to be honest. Sometimes a phone will go off, or somebody farts loudly, or the door opens with an interruption, but usually that doesn't happen and things go as planned. The class starts, it happens, it ends, et voila.

There's one group I teach where it's not usually like that. This group is actually one of my favourite groups to teach as a result, but it doesn't always feel that way at the time. I teach a lot of teens these days and have for the past year. I've written in the past about what it's like to teach a group of people who all know each other. Or what it's like when the class is non-optional (like it's part of their program and they have to do it). The group I'm thinking of all know each other to some degree and some of them are friends. Each of them has the option to not take the class - they choose to come to the class. They say they come because they like the final relaxation. It's a break from their other work they tell me.

Sometimes this group gets a little rowdy though. Rowdy can be okay at times in a yoga class, but at others it seems "wrong" and that brings on the challenge for me. Sometimes another teach pokes their head in the door and sees how it's going, do I need help, does someone need to leave the class? Because this group has a few issues. The kids have all been expelled or suspended from school for a variety of reasons ranging from being violent to doing drugs, you get the picture. They've been kicked out of school for good reason, most of them.

Lots of times the classes go fine. They go even somewhat like the first classes I mentioned. They go as planned, without interruptions. But not usually. Usually I have to move someone's mat to a different spot. Or tell someone to be quiet. Or even, but rarely, just end the class early. Yep. Roll up your mats. We're done. "What about the relaxation?" You blew it. We're not doing that.

Today's class was a challenging one. One where I got to look at my own expectations of a yoga class, of myself as a yoga teacher and of them as students. I didn't kick anybody out, but I came close. After class, the teachers asked me how it went and how a couple of kids did in particular because they've been disallowed from coming to yoga in the past. "They were a pain in the ass," was how I got to respond honestly, "yea, those two." So maybe they'll alternate in the future. One will come one day, the other will come the other day. Maybe.

When we finally get to the final relaxation, I know it matters to them that we're doing yoga together. I know it's hard for them to keep it together and not swear and throw things at each other and blurt out stupid comments and try to make each other laugh and complain about the poses and be totally inappropriate. When I hold their head in my hands in savasana and give them a good "shampoo" and I hear them exhale, I have a small idea of what it took for them to be there and I'm grateful I have the opportunity to share some yoga with them.

(The photo is recent but it's not that group.)

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