Her name is Ale…
So most of us have probably done our best to block out those painfully awkward years of pre-adolescence, pre-puberty, and than puberty. But those of us that work with this age group are given the opportunity to revisit this time, to relive it with new eyes and hopefully with great compassion for those in the trenches of their own development.
These last few months have been a pretty hellacious ride for many of our girls. One several levels, one being the fact that this stage of life has a tendency to result in feelings of isolation and frustration with the construct of our inner and outer world, this compiled with the negative potential of girls in a group setting, and then of course, the clashing realities of their various lives outside of the Buen Pastor. There was a moment when I honestly thought I was going to finish this year and then have to pack up and head on to the next step, whatever that might be. I felt like the problems the girls were facing and the way in which they were communicating with me was a storm that I had not been prepared to weather.
In this moment of panic and self-doubt I did the only thing that I could see any reason in: find another avenue for them that could offer what I felt so strongly I could not. I needed to find another person that I knew could connect with them in a way that was necessary and constructive. I then remembered a point in my life when I was facing great difficulty, trying to cope with grief, navigating a failing relationship while dealing with the stress of balancing work and school expectations. I was in my mid-twenties (which is actually quite like round-two of the middle school era according to my experience). I remembered this great sense of loneliness and self-doubt, and I remember a moment when it all came out. Right in the middle of a Yoga class at the YMCA, 10 am on a Wednesday. It was the strangest sensation to have movement and something that so about the body trigger this great emotional response and most importantly, release. I have to admit, I still am not a regular Yoga doer…I have the pants and matt to play one on TV, but I have not yet incorporated this into my life as a regular practice. BUT, I do know what it is worth, what is can offer the body, the mind and the spirit. And I firmly believe that the movement to teach children yoga, to practice meditation and mindfulness is going to offer greater, deeper impact within this generation than any changes in methodology, curriculum, or testing/assesment will impart.
So that being said, I called upon a friend of mine. A rock star of a yoga instructor, tiny in build and gigantic in character, Ale was the woman I needed. She has this wonderful calmness that I imagine her discovering through her own practice and relationship with Yoga. But she is also embodies a beautiful combination of patience and firmness which I felt was exactly what the girls needed to encounter in this tenuous phase. I rounded up some do-ray-me and bought mats, met with Ale and set up a regular time for her to come and lead the girls.
It has been an interesting experience for them and her. I love hearing their observations of their bodies, abilities versus inabilities… and more than anything their reflections on how they feel in their minds throughout the practice. They all comment on the difficulty and on the great relaxation that they feel. School is almost out…we have one more class. But now as we look ahead into the next school year, we are planning to continue this practice and hopefully add a Storytime Yoga and possibly even an introduction to meditation, for all of the girls. Both of these sites have a lot to offer, I highly recommend taking a look at both.