Six simple life lessons from a group of awesome pre-teen girls that I intend to employ each and every day.
I recently got to teach yoga to a group of 9- and 10-year-old girls as part of the volunteer work I do with Girls With Sole, an incredible organization led by Liz Ferro that brings running and physical fitness programs to at-risk girls throughout the greater Cleveland area (and hopefully someday across the nation).
This was one of those incredible opportunities where I learned so much from the girls I was teaching, and I can’t help but share the nuggets of wisdom that these beautiful yoginis shared with me.
1. Go with the flow.
I had a class flow planned, but as soon as I saw the energy level of these girls, I knew I would have to toss it out to keep them engaged. (And to keep up with them!) There are many times in life when we get too attached to our plans, or to what we think we should be doing. Instead we should be practicing non-attachment, allowing ourselves to let go and instead listen to our hearts and flow with the universe.
2. When you stop talking, the good stuff happens.
Pre-teen girls are still working on developing their filters and have a tendency to blurt out whatever is on their minds. I kept plowing through and didn’t let it get to me. There were even a few moments of triumph when I got them all to quiet down. When I did, you could see the looks of determination and peace on their faces.
It made me think, though, that these 9- and 10-year-old girls really are no different than adults. As grown-ups we may not speak out verbally in class, but, oh, do our minds run rampant with chatter. That mental chatter can be just as disturbing as someone talking out loud. Do yourself a favor and stop talking in class.
3. No hitting.
Yeah, that is something I never thought I’d have to say when teaching yoga, but at one point in class I found myself instructing a few girls to stop hitting. Even though adults (for the most part) don’t need to be told not to hit others, we can be just as abusive with our non-verbal thoughts and actions. So remember, no hitting on or off your yoga mat!
4. Surround yourself with shiny, happy people!
When I walked into the gym that day I could feel the energy of those young girls; it was electric, and their laughter immediately lit me up. I realized how important it is to surround yourself with shiny, happy people. That shine rubs off on you, and you can’t help but be happy!
This concept is the really cool thing about practicing yoga at a studio where you are surrounded by an amazing community of yogis, all there to help, love, and support each other. Next time you’re in a yoga class, close your eyes for a moment and just breathe in that positive energy.
Right before savasana I asked the girls to take the yoga pose that had been their favorite of class. About half of the girls went into virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2), and they transformed into beautiful and fierce yogini goddesses. A few of the girls took vrksasana (tree pose), and I remembered that when they went into tree pose the very first time they nailed it. All of the girls had big smiles on their faces mixed with a sense of pride, determination, and joy.
This moment made me realize that every day we should take the time to do our favorite pose. I’m not being 100 percent literal here—what I’m trying to say is find what it is you love to do, what you’re passionate about, and then do it at least once a day. When doing what we’re passionate about we find our greatest peace, our greatest joy, and ultimately our bliss.
6. Do good deeds.
There is scientific proof that when you do a good deed, it automatically releases a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. It’s the same chemical that releases when you eat chocolate or have sex. When I was driving home from teaching class that day, I was flying high as a kite and felt incredible. These girls had lifted up my heart, and that feeling was so incredible it made me wish I could teach them every day.
Wanna get this natural high? Try doing a good deed today, something that you do without concern for what you will get in return, and then just notice how damn good you feel when you do.
Maria Santoferraro, RYT, is first and foremost a student of yoga and hails from the beautiful shores of Lake Erie, Ohio. A former marketing executive with a ‘Crackberry’ addiction, she now enjoys spending her time teaching yoga on the beach, building yoga brands, and creating meditation videos for Hang Ten Meditation. Go from stressed out to blissed out on her blog The Daily Downward Dog, Twitter, and Facebook and join her next April for a week of beach yoga bliss in Aruba.
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~ Assistant Ed: Thandiwe Ogbonna/Ed: Kate Bartolotta