Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Little Sparrows and One-Legged Pigeons

After spending most of yesterday with a group of economically homogenous but ethnically diverse six- and eight-year olds, I cabbed it up to the Bronx, where not far from the Grand Concourse, which lays below the elevated subway track, about 300 Kindergarten through Third Graders go to school year-round (even during holiday weeks such as this one) at the Little Sparrow Elementary School (P.S. 88). There, I taught yoga to twenty six- through eight-year olds who couldn't have been more different, and yet more the same, from the kids I had left playing with my nanny in my Upper East Side co-op.

Unlike the school that my kids attend, which is somewhat ethnically diverse, the Little Sparrow School is quite ethnically homogeneous. Less than one percent are caucasian or asian. Greater than 99 percent are of color. About one-third of the kids are in the school's city-mandated after-school/day-care program so that their parents/guardians can work. But in nearly every other way, these kids were very much like my own kids, like the kids with whom my kids go to school: cute and rambunctious and puppy-like...they wanted to clown around, and they also wanted to do the right thing. In fact, I would have to say that they were far more willing to follow directions from me than my own kids....partnering up for forward bending poses, back to back, taking turns leaning back on each other and singing the Closing Mantra at the end (better than ANY led class I have ever attended). We did some handstanding and some crow balancing as well. I managed to keep their attention for over an hour....and as fun as it was for me, and as rewarding as it was to have one of the little sparrows show me her coloring book after class, it was quite a demanding hour of teaching.

And then off I was to find the subway back to Manhattan. The Husband, being the mainstreamiest of them all, and dare I say, a teeny bit closedminded, had asked that I have one of the other teachers accompany me to a cab. But that's just not my way - no delicate flower am I. I found the subway just fine, no problems, and shivered for what seemed like hours, waiting for the train to arrive on the elevated platform. Now I understood what it meant when it was said that the trains seemed to be moving slowly. When you have to wait for it outside, you really begin to notice how slow the trains are.

Somehow I managed to get to Yoga Sutra with enough time to squeeze in my practice. Zoe was there. She knows that I am working hard on Parivritta Parsvakonasana these days, and she spent a lot of time with me, helping me to twist juuuuust a bit more. She suggested that by going for the full posture - reaching my top arm over my head and using my hand as my driste - as opposed to keeping my hands in prayer as I had been doing, my body would follow along with a deeper twist. And as Parivritta Parsvakonasana goes, so go Mari C and D (just as my Ardha Badha Padmotannasana is a pretty good indicator of how everything with a "padma" in it will feel that day), and they were nice and deep. Pressing up into Lolasana seems to be becoming a reality as well....

And then it was time to teach. I was subbing for Julie, who has replaced Karri, who used to teach "Happy Hip Hopping Yoga", which was a super-advanced vinyasa class set to funky, happy music. The class is now simply a Level II vinyasa class, but I don't think that word has gotten around yet: the two students who showed up told me that they were ready for anything I was willing to give them. I recognized one of them from the Mysore room. She was practicing while I was teaching Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors (in the Mysore room also), and I remember being struck by the simple beauty of her practice. The other told me he practices with Dharma Mittra and Allison West. Enough said. The three of us spent a minute or two discussing what we would cover in class....

1. Arm balances (crow, side-crow, vasistasana, pincha mayurasana, astavakrasana)
2. Standing balances (eagle into a twisting version of Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana into the Bikram Style Toestand into Ardha Badha Padmotannasana)
3. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana...both of my students touched their foot to their head.

It's really fun for me every now and then to lead super-advanced students. With a good vinyasa teacher training, you can learn enough about anatomy and about the poses such that you can teach poses that you aren't necessarily practicing yourself. For the most part, my students last night could "do" more than I could. But I did have the wonderful opportunity to teach one of them how to get into Astavakrasana from Compass (which I can actually do), and, I think she got it!

Today it's ice skating with the kids....


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Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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