Get that 9-year-old Out of My Yoga Class!

Via on Feb 28, 2011

When she first showed up, I thought she was cute.

Not anymore.

She fidgets and sighs. She plays with her hair, and takes her glasses on and off, on and off, or else just knocks them to the floor with a clatter. She doesn’t know her right from her left. She is unable to translate visuals from the instructor into positions in her own body. She halfheartedly tries each move, before collapsing to her knees and fidgeting some more. She gets up in the middle of class to use the bathroom, and yesterday she came back to ask the instructor with help getting in. The instructor obliged, leaving us in trikonasana for three minutes.

The day before, she farted while the instructor tried to show her shoulder stand.

She has dry skin, which she constantly itches, raking her nails down her arm. She tugs at her t-shirt in each move, trying to keep it down over that sliver of skin above her pants. On Tuesday she was at the front of the class, in front of me, and it was like watching a train wreck. She moves jerkily and quickly, collapsing over her legs for forward bend so fast I think she’s going to hurt herself. I finally asked the instructor if perhaps she could benefit from being behind me, so she could use me as a visual. He turned me down, but after a couple more minutes, reconsidered and we switched. But my balance was already thrown off. Her fidgeting had infected me, and my tree pose wouldn’t hold.

In savasana, she can’t stay still. I hear her next to me, moving around, coughing, gulping her water. I can’t not think of her. She is always there, demanding attention, demanding that I hear her and look at her, and I get angry with how bad she is. When I get home from class after having her there, I snap at my boyfriend, and I slouch in front of the computer, brooding.

The instructors have different ways for dealing with her, none of them successful. One tried to really teach her the moves, working with her personally, adjusting her physically, but she isn’t good at listening to instructions, and the rest of the class felt neglected. One instructor set himself up in front of her, but she still didn’t get it, or didn’t put in the effort, or both. One instructor all but ignored her, dispensing instructions to the class at large, barely letting her eyes flicker over the 9-year-old’s attempts at downward facing dog.

What makes me feel even worse, is that she really wants to be my friend. Her eyes light up when I walk into the room. She smiles eagerly at me, scurrying over to set up her mat next to mine. In class I radiate frustration in her direction, my mind chanting “Stop fidgeting! Be quiet! At least TRY,” but she doesn’t know that, and she looks at me for direction, eating me up with her eyes while I do a headstand.

The thing is, she needs yoga. She is a victim of the child obesity epidemic, and her legs bow inward. She seems so out of touch with her own body that I think that yoga is the only way to teach her to listen to what her core, her neck, her hamstrings are saying, or at least teach her right from left. Her posture is so rounded, yoga seems like the solution to making her stand up straight and proud. I want her to have the gift of yoga, just not MY yoga class. I guess you could call it a case of NIMYS – Not In My Yoga Studio.

She needs a class of kids her own age, but I don’t think that is available anywhere near her. She has some sort of connection to the owner of the studio, and that’s why she gets to come.

What is she trying to teach me? Patience? Unconditional compassion? How I NEVER want to have kids?

About Alden Wicker

Alden Wicker is a freelance journalist and founder of EcoCult.com, a blog about all things sustainable in New York City and beyond. She also writes about electronic music, personal finance, and yoga for publications such as Well + Good, Refinery29, LearnVest, Huffington Post and Narratively.

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66 Responses to “Get that 9-year-old Out of My Yoga Class!”

  1. yogiclarebear says:

    WOW! What a challenge. I'm not sure how to comment supportively besides to note that I think you have taken the challenge…stay open to what this experience is supposed to bring and it will come! Keep us updated…

  2. AMO says:

    Blessings upon you both. I have had that child, or children like her, in my class as a student, though not as a teacher because I won't allow it. Not because kids shouldn't do yoga, but because kids need yoga with other kids. They often CAN'T do what grownups can and shouldn't be required to. You are a Unicorn to her, an impossible thing, a fairy princess in a tale that she "knows" can't really happen for her. While she is surrounded by adults the class will be a place she goes to fail, to feel different, to wonder how on earth women DO that with their bodies, why everyone is SO quiet, what good it does to forward bend. She needs to be around other children who are learning to listen, to the teachers and to their bodies, together. Children are invited into yoga poses for different reasons. I tell my adult students to reach for their toes with tops of their heads to open spaces between the vertebra and to open the hip joints and lengthen the spine and bring oxygenated blood to the brain. Children need to have reasons for doing the postures too and the language we use to invite children into yoga, is and should be different.

    Obviously your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find your own inner peace in your practice regardless of her, and that may mean going to practice yoga elsewhere, because some distractions are just too big to be ignored. I use people like that in class to remind myself that I might irritate people with my wiggling or my weird breathing or whatever and to work on my own stillness. It usually works, but I notice if they are always there I move myself, to another spot, or another studio, because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I want to enjoy my yoga too. What a tough spot you're in. You know you can't save this child from herself, or from her life, and, you don't want to hurt her.

    As a teacher/studio owner I would want my students to tell me if they were ready to leave. To give me a chance to make a change. I'm not sure not saying anything is actually serving the child. I'm not sure…

  3. Nancy A says:

    this made me laugh, but in all honesty I get what you are saying. I had a mom ask if I would let her bring her 5 year old to class. I said no, because I think that teaching kids requires a different approach. My five year old LOVES yoga, but has little patience and frankly would be as you describe above: distracting. Perhaps you could talk to the teacher? Look around and see if there's a kids yoga class in your area to suggest to her?

  4. *shh* don't tell anyone but I always fart when I go into certain asans…*shhh* they are silent! But yeah I hear you about kids. I know you are meant to be all nice about it, but it really puts you off your stride I feel. I know parents need yoga too, but kids running about in front of you can be quite distracting. So I love kids, but get a babysitter unless it is a specific parent child class.

  5. Yogini5 says:

    #1, why is she in such a tough class?
    Are headstands part of the curriculum of such a class that would have a child in it.
    Are there not liability issues involved when the Level I class participants do headstands away from the wall, and there is a child running around?
    #2, There is not really a "child obesity epidemic" per se; some of it is manufactured by health authorities downgrading what used to be considered "overweight" in the BMI category.

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Oh my, I looove this article. So visceral, honest, beautfully put without self-censoring. In Buddhism we call giving in to compassion that doesn't actually benefit others 'idiot compassion'…would seem that this young lady does need a class with her peers, and that drishti or focus or self-practice while part of yoga practiced isn't enough in this case to respect your boundaries…would seem that the teachers or owners could find a class better suited to the young lady.

    On the other hand, I was brought up in the Buddhist community, and though overall it was wonderful there was sometimes a definite lack-of-welcome from those who were there to practice meditation, not be distracted by annoying hyper children. But sounds like you already tried to work with the situation and be helpful, good on you.

    Yours,

    Way

    • jen says:

      This is sooooo not idiot compasion! I think this girl would benefit form any type of compassion and patience. It makes me so sad when I read crap like this. What is yoga for? I thought the purpose of yoga was to learn to be a kinder and more compassionate towards ALL beings. I am willing to bet that if the little yogini was a lithe blonde who dropped back effortlessly into wheel instead of an itchy, fidgety "victim of the child obesity epidemic", she would be the apple of Alden's eye. Waylon, I adore ele, and I can not for the life of me understand why you allow hatred (aimed at a CHILD) to be posted on in your awesome publication. I am all for diversity of ideas, but this is just plain hateful and wrong. If the girl ever reads this, it will break her heart!

  7. Great article and made me giggle. I'd recommend – keep going. It's all happening for good reason. If the class speaks to you, beyond the little girl, keep going. I took a class once in the middle of a ridiculously loud city center..I mean loud. At first it was insane and p*ssed me off so bad, but I kept going and one day, at least for a few moments, I didn't hear it. Now, I keep trying to go back and find that place. I don't know. Maybe it helps? :-) :-.)

  8. Peg says:

    Stay with it! Here's hope: http://bit.ly/hfArwc

  9. Candice Garrett Candice says:

    What is that old addage? It's easy to meditate in a quiet room but try it on a busy road? You're getting distracted. Can you use it as an "advanced" practice to cultivate equanimity in all situations, those that are ideal, those that are less so? You wrote an article about "her" but what I heard most is your disturbed quality of mind. "You" should be your focus, don't you think? Thank you for putting yourself out there so honestly. We all have situations like this. I am going through one right now where my neighbor had my car towed. I'm out $500 because she felt like being vindictive. She laughed in my face and is enjoying it immensely. What can I do? I can not let it keep me up at night, I can not let it raise my bloodpressure, I can work on the yoga of my heart and soul…

  10. kcyogachick says:

    Same here, Nancy. I had a mom call and ask if she could bring her 6 year old to class. I politely said "No sorry, our minimum age is 12", but in my mind I was thinking "Hell, no". I have my own 6 year old at home and it would be a cold day in hell before I would subject a room of adults, expecting an adult (read: child-free) class, to that kind of crazy little boy energy. He, too, LOVES yoga but that is not the format for a young child. My 11 year old, on the other hand, is welcome any time. She practices as the adults do and know what MY expectations of her are. On my web site, I say "12 and over but if your child is at least 9 we'll let them have a try and we will be frank with you if we feel they aren't ready." I want to encourage young yogis but I respect the adult's need for an adult practice. For some moms it may be the only kid-free time they have all day.

  11. BAnjeeB says:

    I get that you're being honest and you have the right to write what you will, but seriously…all I can think of how mean this post is. Even though no one here can identify her, you put a 9 year old on blast. Really?? I mean, really?? And what impact is the negativity that you, and the others, are showing her having on her as a developing practitioner?

    • asdfg says:

      Get over it – kids are kids, adults are adults – grown up don't want kids being annoying during their "adult" time.

  12. Tangled Macrame says:

    Perhaps she's there to eventually inspire the studio owner to open a children's yoga class! Until then, be patient. As a yogi with two young children, I see exactly where you're coming from. But at the same time, we take physically challenging classes to push our bodies beyond ourselves. Perhaps you could frame this as a mentally challenging class to push your mind toward bliss/relaxation/yoga even in the presence of distractions. THAT's a skill with real-world benefits!

  13. Namaste,
    I'll try not to be wordy. There are two parts to this conundrum. The "you" part and the "her" part. I'll start with you. Since you're published here I'm assuming you are an experienced yogi. What is yoga about? Is it a better headstand? Is a class supposed to calm you so you treat your boyfriend better? I think it's a opportunity for you (all of us) to go inside and integrate our minds and bodies. My teacher had a blind person show up as a walk-in. I've ha a regular student who had a spinal injury. I'm sure most every teacher has had MS sufferers. Should they all be segregated into special classes so the rest of the class only experiences perfect bodies in perfect motion? As a teacher, what standard might I use to "grade" my students? How would you feel if I graded you on compassion?
    As for her, It seems that she is very brave to come to a place that challenges her abilities at the same time as she exposes her weaknesses(which are all too prominent in young minds) to a bunch of strange adults. Young bodies are very different from adult ones. I hope the teachers in your center are trained to keep her safe. Headstand and shoulderstand are not things I would expect of a child. They don't have the body sense or attention span to do them safely. Of course neither do most adults.
    I think the questions you raise are important and my answer is that you and she both need yoga. Thinking through what you wrote has helped me to understand that better. Thank you for the challenge.

  14. Wow, REALLY great article. As a teacher, we all have the occasional student walk into the class who is just nowhere near ready for "All Levels" or "Level 2/3". Usually it's an adult, but I've had the occasional child, too, and it's ALWAYS a challenge to figure out how to give the rest of the class a nice, well-rounded practice without harming the newcomer who has insisted on coming. I like to sit at the desk and personally meet new students and find out where they're at (I do actually encourage beginners not to come to my class until they're a few months into it). Some studios have great beginner's classes…. some don't. Personally, I am just not great at teaching beginners—some teachers are amazing at it and I totally admire them.

    Interestingly, the behaviors she is exhibiting sound like the completely natural developmental functions of a nine year old (I studied a lot of child development in school and also used to teach children's ballet). Children's classes can be much better (when they are available), if the curriculum is age-appropriate, but sometimes the age range is huge. Any child that is regularly coming to adult yoga has got to be commended in my book. It's not exactly entertaining. I do feel that studios and teachers should try to support their students in creating an ideal environment for practice, but in this case it may not be viable to start a whole new class just for her, and she may be benefitting in numerous unseen ways.

    I do appreciate the formidable distraction she is presenting you (an opportunity to practice Dharana?), though. One time, after the Tsunami, my guru Ammachi invited a huge group of orphaned or PTSD children to stay at the ashram for a week and play in the swimming pool with her to overcome their fear of water. Many residents and renunciates complained that the kids were too noisy and distracted their meditation. Amma responded that we should be able to perform our sadhanas anywhere, regardless of the external circumstances, and that it is excellent training to practice in an environment full of distractions. Strong medicine, for sure, but food for thought.

    Happy one-pointedness…..

    love,
    Prajna

  15. Gretchen says:

    I believe this girl is definitely there to teach you some sort of lesson, so I was happy to read the last bit of your article. And, I also believe she feels all of the energy you send her way, only, she can't decipher the quality of that energy… I have the same problem with dogs! I can't stand them & I they just can't get enough of me! Good luck, and stick with it… hopefully one day it will all make sense.

  16. Kristi Glaze says:

    The only way it will get any better is to lean into it. But I suspect you already know that …

  17. Priscilla Wood says:

    what is she trying to teach you? tolerance…

  18. Sybil says:

    Thank you for this article. It made me chuckle.

    We have a student in class that fits this description PERFECTLY – except she’s 70 years old not 9. Other than that – the challenges are the same. :) The disruptions can be very annoying. I’m really working on patience and acceptance. I’ll toss in some unconditional compassion this week – just for good measure.

  19. Tough situation! Your ending caught me completely by surprise.

    I was expecting a conclusion something like "and that's why kids shouldn't be allowed in Yoga classes…", but you wrote, "What is she trying to teach me?".

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  20. funnygirl says:

    This article annoyed me. I think that this kid is showing you about your own self-centeredness and ego and lack of compassion. And perhaps preparing you for if and when you finally do have kids and they (surprise!) aren't perfect. Or showing you that you are unfit at this point in life to be a good parent. And perhaps she is also showing you your distractablity since if you were really focused. Sorry, but I live in a town with lots of self-absorbed twenty somethings and they are SOOOO self involved… until they have kids, then they magically transform into human beings.

  21. funnygirl says:

    This article annoyed me. I think that this kid is showing you about your own self-centeredness and ego and lack of compassion. And perhaps preparing you for if and when you finally do have kids and they (surprise!) aren't perfect. Or showing you that you are unfit at this point in life to be a good parent. And perhaps she is also showing you your distractablity since if you were really focused she could be singing "Old Man River" and she would not distract you from your practice. Lots to think about.

  22. Brandi says:

    In reality, I have been in classes many many times with adults who are just as bad, if not worse. Should we not allow them in our classes as well? At least the 9 year old has an excuse…

  23. mmargoshka says:

    9-year-old is a difficult age, the body is going through many changes. It's no wonder this little person is fidgeting and distracted. Sounds like you don't need to do anything, or even learn anything in particular. How fortunate for her to have you as an example, and how fortunate for you to have her as an obstacle. What's in the way is the way.
    Not sure where in New York you are but there is a studio called Yoga Village at 22 east 21st street with a full schedule of yoga classes for kids and teens. http://www.yogavillagenyc.com/classes/schedule/
    (I there on teach on Saturdays.)

    Thank you for for your thoughtful and eloquent post.
    -Margarita

  24. Aminda R Courtwright send her to mine…:)
    5 hours ago · Like · 1 person
    From Facebook:

    Emily Expat-Wannabe The four year old in my life loves to do 'oooh-ga'. She has trouble with her y's but not with downward dog or even meditation but I don't think I'd take her to a class……… she is only four and prone to mood swings. :o)
    5 hours ago · Like · 2 people

    Colleen Allen Kennedy I think the author should find a new place to practice. Boo.
    5 hours ago · Like · 3 people

    Rosalind Clewley To the author: What is she trying to teach you…? Er..in your case…not to breed.
    5 hours ago · Like · 6 people

    Kendice Masse Booooo … the way to get your child to have a full and peaceful life is to start them on the path early. This writer should be damn ashamed of themselves.
    That little girl is your future … you need to find another place to do your yoga.
    5 hours ago · Like · 7 people

    Cassie Dixon wwwkiddingaroundyoga.com for a Teacher Training in Kid's Yoga. We'd give the instructor ways to engage the child so they are not fidgeting, but practicing in non-conventional ways :)
    5 hours ago · Like · 2 people

    Emma Magenta I also think the author should find another place to practice, and she should let the management know why she's going elsewhere. Maybe that will inspire them to start a kids program which will better serve the kids in her community. If it's not working for many of the adults in the class to have a 9 year old in there, then it's not working.
    5 hours ago · Like · 3 people

    Leah Lindell Morgan I don't find the author to be anti-kid, and I agree if a child can't conduct themselves well, the parents should find a kid specific class. I teach kid's and adult yoga and the kids enjoy class SO much more when practicing with their peers in a children's class.
    4 hours ago · Like · 3 people

    Rosalind Clewley ‎"If a child can't conduct themselves well" The child appears to be conducting herself in a very normal, if not slightly restrained, way.
    Who owns the problem? The author. So rather than kid bashing and whingeing she should be a big girl …
    See More
    4 hours ago · Like · 5 people

    Mary Fitzsimons ive seen this attitude in adults throughout the so called 'spiritual and yogic 'communities, mostly from unmarried or childless adults who are so irritated and uncomfortable in the presence of children as to become hysterical , accusing chi…
    See More
    4 hours ago · Like · 4 people

    Kristi Siefer Glaze Distractions are ours to overcome – not eliminate
    4 hours ago · Like

    Kimberly McCarthy To me, the author comes off as ridiculously anti kid & so critical of a young child! What's her problem? It always annoys me when adults get aggravated over kids just being kids. I can understand that the author doesn't want her class disrupted but I think her endless list of criticisms are inappropriate. I thought it was a joke at first.
    4 hours ago · Like · 3 people

    Tracy Hovde Johnson Is this supposed to be funny? I really don't know. Is it supposed to show us how ridiculously selfish we can be with our Asana practice and how that is NOT yoga?
    4 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      I have to say, I totally concur with the majority of these comments. Especially "Distractions are ours to overcome – not eliminate."

      If the teachers are allowing the child to be in class, perhaps it would be wise for the author to find another time slot in which to attend.

  25. From Facebook (contin.):

    Kristi Siefer Glaze I like Alden's honesty. That is really how people feel about obnoxious, pervasive distractions during their yoga practice – whether it is a child or, like at my studio next to the railroad yard, constantly blaring train whistles. Here is the thing – a yoga class should not be a quiet place removed from the rest of life. It is a microcosm of a teaching environment about life – and that child is the biggest teacher in the room.
    4 hours ago · Like · 3 people

    Alpine Lily If it is not advertised as a children's class then it is not appropriate for a child to be in the room! There are plenty of kid's classes that are structured to be a their level and with the age group that is on the same emotional level (i.e shorter attention spans for poses!).
    3 hours ago · Like · 3 people

    Karen Nisivoccia-Campbell What happened to leave your ego at the door. My yoga studio welcomes all well behaved children (not mini adults) to classes. When I have brought my youngest to class she is 7 they have treated her like any other student. Helping her with…
    See More
    3 hours ago · Like · 4 people

    Priscilla Paredes Wood what is she trying to teach you? tolerance…
    2 hours ago · Like · 2 people

    Dana Langer very rude article…children teach us about letting go…that's what the author needs to learn..
    about an hour ago · Like · 2 people

    Emma Magenta The author says in the article that she understands she has something to learn from the situation. I find her honesty courageous. We've all had the experience of being annoyed by someone/something in yoga class. Part of our yoga practice is acknowledging our feelings, even the dark ones. If you find yourself trying to shame someone else, chances are good they are triggering something in you.
    55 minutes ago · Like

    Wilona Shideler- Betzen I will probably catch aot of heat for responding to this feed… I work in a Salon/ Spa and it is a daily challenge to not be distracted by clients that bring their children in with them while they receive services, hoping there is someone…
    See More
    39 minutes ago · Like

    Dana Langer I'm a special education teacher, I love children, and appreciate honesty in all aspects. Yes, she was truthful but I don't believe she was respectful at all to the child by commenting on her weight and overall demeanor.
    39 minutes ago · Like

    Dana Langer and I believe its the teachers responsbility to incorporate all types of learners in the class and to make the class accessible to the child at her level.
    36 minutes ago · Like

  26. Roger Wolsey Roger Wolsey says:

    I take my 10 year old with me to class. He is present and focused the whole time. "The family that yogas together, yoga." ; )

  27. Jerry says:

    Oooo… such a hard one! I teach adults and kids, but never in the same class (to date). Teaching kids is a whole different ballgame than adults, and I have to have my bag of tricks that if one pose/sequence isn't working, to change gears, and to always have a sense of humor and not take anything seriously. Because they're going to laugh and wiggle and things are going to go wrong.

    But honestly, several of those complaints aimed at the 9 year-old by the author, I can complain about adults in classes that I attend. The person falling over in a balancing pose who happens to be in my gaze, the person who coughs during the meditation, the person who keeps getting up to leave the room, the person who loudly gathers her things during savasana.

    I guess you could complain to the studio management, but one of my teachers told me that you shouldn't complain about something in a yoga studio/class – that if it's making you want to complain, just don't go back. So I guess my question for the author is why can't you find another yoga studio? What's keeping you at this one?

  28. Sibil says:

    A selfish and self-centered twenty something.

  29. Nadine says:

    Working with children is like hitting the fast-forward button in spiritual evolution. Off the top of my head, I can think of about 20 things that this situation is trying to teach. You can potentially learn more from this kid than your yoga instructor, depending on what exactly you are seeking to gain on the mat…

  30. DWL says:

    You are amazing for writing something this honest. And you ask the toughest question ‘what is she trying to teach me?’ Sometimes I never figure out the answer to that question and the only response I know that makes me feel better is tonglen. Check it out if you haven’t already embarked on this path, my theory is it can’t hurt and may even make the situation better – good luck!!!!
    http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/tonglen1.p

  31. Jenn says:

    WOW – this really hit me. I keep wanting to judge the writer, help her to realize that HER thoughts/response/actions toward this other being IS her yoga. But then I have to ask myself how I would react, or better yet, how I would feel. Sometimes the bravest thing to do is to speak/share the ugliest side of ourselves, isn't that how we grow?

  32. Daiana says:

    To the author – Your blog makes the saying come to mind: "Children should be seen but not heard." How sad it is that you do not see that the young girl is in fact your teacher. If you reflect on your personal experience, where in your life can you learn from your reaction to her? I'm sure Life has presented you with many opportunities where you have selectively tuned out enviromental stimulation and made you completely oblivious to your surroundings. What is it about this young girl that irritates the young girl in you? Why can you not tune her out? Have you made that connection? Think of how many times when we were children and found ourselves amoungst adults participating in their activities, we were filled with pride that we were included but then the walls of pride came crashing down when some irritated adult made an off-the-cuff remark about the nonsense we were creating because we weren't acting right. Well, she is there. She is a child. She is trying. She is proud. She is enjoying the moment. She is comepletely present in her body. Why does your mind wander? Imagine that beautiful moment when you recognize the beauty in her is the reflection of the beauty in you. Namaste.

  33. fivefootwo says:

    Wow. You kind of outed that girl into cyberspace if she is the only nine year old in your yoga class in NYC. I understand your problem but more general and less descriptive would have shielded this child's identity and we would had gotten the point.

  34. Sara says:

    http://www.karmakidsyoga.com/
    ( just one of the many resources and/or places available in the US for Yoga for kids!)
    This one is for the "YOGI" that wrote this article…. you should really be ashamed of yourself for writing like this about a child…. go to this website LEARN and explore ….. yes kids classes are especially designed to cater to the children of different ages…. what has YOGA done for you? You need to go back and look at yourself inside… and your practice… the very definition of YOGa is a UNION between body,mind and SOUL!! Please!!!! you have gotta be kidding me!

  35. Jen says:

    This article REALLY upsets me! What is wrong with you? This little girl obviously would benefit tremendously from yoga (which you did point out). Seriously, if you can't deal with an itchy, fidgety 9 year old, how do you think that you are going to deal with life's more diifcult challenges? I hate it when I go into a yoga class and the teacher scolds people for being fidgety or talking. If you want a silent retreat, stay home, turn the TV off ans meditate. In the real world, you have to deal with so many other people. It does not matter if you like them or not, they are not going to go away, so we have to try to be kind to them! Yoga teaches us how to deal with difficult people in a graceful way. Try to have a little compassion for this girl. Let's just hope this little yogini never sees this article at any point in her life because it will devistate her.

  36. NotSoSure says:

    I understand the "incorporate all types of learners" and "what she is teaching me" comments. But the plain truth as that a 9 year old should be involved in activities that are age appropriate and should participate in those activities with a peer group.
    Nine year olds are not little adults, either emotionally or physically. Children more easily get "over heating" injuries because they cannot regulate body tempature as well as adults. And due to a lack of strength, and a skeletal structure that is still forming, can be easily badly injured by inappropriate activities. Just ask any former child ballerina who was put en pointe at too young of an age about the long term damage that can be done.

  37. Sybil says:

    You made me laugh. Thanks for having the courage to voice your opinion. Easily, I could substitute "70 year old woman" for 9 year old child and it would describe a local class I go to. I am trying to learn those same lessons – patience & compassion – they're not always easy things to learn.

    Those that are ragging on you need to lighten up. Just because you/we THINK things doesn't mean we ACT on those thoughts.

  38. Blissful Girl says:

    If this girl's presence is distracting you must tell the instructor. They may or may not realize it, but they should know that it is affecting your practice. After allowing a student's grandchild to attend a class, another student informed me later that the child had distracted her the entire class, which I was not aware of. So this was a valuable lesson for me. I also think an age limit should be established in adult classes, 12 years old is probably appropriate. If the child can't behave like everyone else, they shouldn't be in class. Everyone's practice is equally important and should be respected.

    If all else fails, start attending a class on a different day or time.

  39. Kala says:

    I agree that this is not an appropriate class for this little girl. But why oh why must her weight be brought up! We are so obsessed with being thin. And when you are not, you NEED yoga. Yoga is not a weight loss program.

    • Yogini5 says:

      You can blame the media for that one.

      In the late '80s nobody was under any illusion that yoga would help them lose weight.

  40. 13thfloorelevators says:

    It doesn't appear to me that the thing primarily bothering her about this person is that she is being a kid, per se, but that the kid person is also awkward, lacks focus, overweight, and demands everyone's attention. I suspect anyone of any age behaving that way would tweak the writer for precisely the same reasons. Clearly if the writer here struggles with focus, feels awkward, and would like more attention but curtails her need in an effort to be socially acceptable, the kid's behavior is going to be extraordinarily annoying. Certainly these are issues that are prompted by things the writer might want to think about.

    I've had a similar problem in a class that started out fairly rigorous but devolved into a personal session for one particular person who, class after class, had trouble with very basic stuff. It would piss me off because 1) she was monopolizing the class time and the teacher allowed it, 2) she was everything I didn't want to be; I wanted to be graceful and strong, and I wanted to make progress. She managed to do none of those things, and it freaked me out that I might be just as "bad" but lack the self-awareness to know how much I sucked; I simply didn't want to be like her and that was, as usually is the case with someone we don't want to be like, an enormous challenge. At the time, I think I spent most of the class breathing through my anger and resentment. That was my task at the moment. But I ultimately left the class to find one that suited me better; there is nothing wrong with taking the opportunity to learn from the situation, but moving on when you're done. Just make sure you aren't running away from it.

    Whether to remain in a challenging situation entirely depends on whether 1) you're learning from it, 2) you're doing so consciously, and 3) other possible concerns, (spiritual or not). ( For example, while the writer here can learn a lot with continued exposure to this kid, she also might be struggling with taking care of herself (which is often the case when it's a kid tweaking us) and finding the ability in her to appropriately find a safer place for HER to practice might also be an appropriate lesson to take from the situation.)

    Thus I find the criticism of her that she needs to just "learn" something here and be less "anti-kid, to be crass, myopic and unforgiving. There's an epistemic problem with this kind of criticism, because there are usually competing concerns, unresolved issues we don't know about, and an incredible lack of available information about everyone involved. It's simply not the task of elephant readers to decide what she should be learning and how she should learn it. What she needs to do is entirely up to her, and so long as she's doing it consciously, she's not failing to do it properly. Nobody here but her knows if that's the case.

  41. Diana Mercer diana says:

    I feel deeply saddened after reading your article. This child is simply being a child, and your depiction of her is so callous and disrespectful. If she were an adult beginner would you write about her dry skin, the way she pulls at her shirt, the distasteful way she drinks her water, or "get angry with how bad she is"? Not really in the spirit of yoga, I don't think.

    What has she triggered in you? I hope that as a yoga practitioner, you will stay on your own side of the net, owning your anger, frustration and judgements and knowing that they are yours to work with alone. This child (as all of us do) has her own challenges. I think you should leave her alone.

  42. bradski says:

    I have the same problem with someone I am guessing is somewhere between the age of 39 and 49. This woman is a total distraction in class and makes it extremely difficult to stay focused on my practice, but I now view it as a way work on staying focused and being non-reactive.

    The woman too doesn't know right from left – she'll be face to face with her neighbor in trikonasa and not be phased (with her front leg completely bent!) I struggle so much not being frustrated by this woman. I only see her in the most challenging 90 minute vinyasa classes at my studio. Very frustrating and a similar situation to yours, though you would think an adult would figure out she doesn't belong…

  43. Sam says:

    she is YOUR guru. discover how, and thank her. imagine how that will "improve" her practice!

  44. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  45. I appreciate that you shared your honest feelings and perceptions about the girl in your class. Sounds to me like her presence triggers something in you that you might not want to see. So maybe she is giving you an opportunity to explore and befriend your personal shadow: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/12/afraid-of-

  46. wendy says:

    something you can do is find another class.

  47. Circleseeker says:

    This article does read like it is written by a self centered 20 something as the author describes herself basically. I think sometimes the yoga community loses all sight of what yoga and "sangha" is really. I have a great teacher who would tell you that this situation is all about not allowing another individual to govern your experience. Also, we are all one. Why is it you cannot embrace this young person who so obviously needs love and acceptance? Is there some part of her that reminds you of yourself as a young person or even now? I have had more fidgety adults in class then the sound of this little girl. Adults just play with their i-phone and whatever but it seems the accepted and the norm. Hmmm, I find this article sad but telling. Telling in the sense of what I see as a yoga community that hangs together at times out of a sense of judgment of others outside the clique. Your spiritual practice should be 24/7. This little one is part of it. Sounds like you are the one with the real issue here.

  48. Kids yoga and adults yoga are quite different. Bringing a nine year old to adult yoga is like asking an adult to watch a Hanna Montanna marathon. They don't care about the same things.

    The girl doesn't sounds like she's enjoying the class. It sounds like, for her, its another thing she is supposed to do because its good for her. I wonder if she chooses to be there? Maybe you could ask her why she comes, it may give you some insight. The studio owners could also consider reaching out to her school to start a program.

    Alden – you could also try a little "law of attraction" type of stuff with her since she looks up to you. Try to be completely neutral to all behavior except when she does a good job, then really encourage and congratulate it. For some children even negative attention is better than no attention. This works for me in my kids yoga classes.

    But if you need to, I think its fine for you to find a new class. Sometimes the lesson is to learn to walk away.

  49. I can't find the photo on the internet right now but I love the picture of Saraswati Jois doing a backbend when she was about nine years old. Pattabhi Jois would then give a lecture for an hour while standing on top of her. I wish my kids were into it like that.

  50. Fastcat7 says:

    I had the same experience but with an adult advanced yogini who was so impressed with herself that during poses in class, she would move into more challenging poses and then hold them longer so that everyone could see her in them. If my head even turned the teeniest bit in her direction, she was ready with intense eye contact. She made little noises to call attention to herself, and frequently chimed in with pronunciations and pose structure hints. She almost made me hate yoga. Luckily, a new instructor has moved to our area and has provided a much more challenging class for this woman. I am still trying to figure out what I was supposed to be learning from her distracting annoying presence in my sacred yoga world.

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