My name is Lily Landers and I taught yoga in schools with Sat Naam for five awesome years. It was an honor for me to guide students through classes where we would stretch, breathe, laugh, play and share our experiences together.
From South LA to the Valley, I met some spectacular kids. I spent the first year trying not to cry when students would tell me heart wrenching stories about their experiences from home, or describe beautiful images that they saw when they closed their eyes in Savasana. Their joy and appreciation for life often brought me to the brink of tears. But we definitely spent more time laughing than crying.
One time I was teaching Spider Pose (Malasana Squat) to a second grade class. I instructed the students to reach one hand up to shoot a web. One of my students interrupted me to say, "Excuse me, Ms. Lily. Spiders shoot webs out of their butts." There is nothing like laughing with a room full of second graders.
After just a few months teaching at a school, kids would stop to hug me in the halls and I started to realize how much it meant to them that I showed up every week. In some schools with high teacher turnover, I was the constant presence in their academic lives and they appreciated me for it. And no matter what was going on in my life, they were always there for me. Teaching those kids forced me to be present, in the moment, and I would often leave school feeling a positive shift in my own energy.
That being said, the school system is not perfect. I also dealt with frustrating situations like having our yoga room taken away from us or canceling classes due to extra standardized testing, but the kids stayed connected to their vibrant spirits and I tried whenever possible to ride that wave with them. That's what is so great about working with kids--their love for life is contagious.
Some kids were certainly more challenging than others, but even those kids improved and gained something from their yoga classes. I remember talking to the mother of a particularly difficult student at the beginning of the new school year. She said she couldn't believe it but her son had spent the whole summer meditating in his room. Even my students who seemed like they didn't care about yoga learned something valuable from it.
Teaching yoga to kids deepened my own yoga practice in an off-the-mat kind of way. By learning to be patient with them, I learned to be patient with myself and other people and situations. By asserting myself in the classroom, I learned to stand up for myself in my own life. By being present with them, I learned to be present now. Thank you Seema and Sat Naam for helping me on my journey. I wish you all the best in the future!