I've been teaching yoga to children for nearly ten years, but it wasn't until I arrived in Peru in December of 2017 that I had the opportunity to bring yoga to children without parents. I had extremely heartfelt experiences visiting orphanages in Peru in the cities of Lima and Iquitos. Before arriving, I was told they had never received a yoga class before and upon entering the orphanages, the children ran over to me and were clinging on for hugs and human touch. They were surprised and delighted to be exposed to this new practice, but more excited to have someone new to bond with.
I taught the class in Spanish, yet some English vocabulary such as counting, names of postures, and basic phrases were thrown into the mix to encourage creative language learning. They also taught me some new Spanish vocabulary, as each country and even community tends to have their own dialect and slang words. Language exchange is one of my favorite things about traveling :)
Teaching classes onsite typically comes with its own set of challenges, distractions, and interruptions. A fight broke out amongst the teenage girls halfway through the class, a ball was kicked over the wall, and the snacks and drinks were distributed before the end of class. In spite of this, the yoga experiences were well received and the youth smiled through sun salutations and expressed this was the first time they had ever felt so relaxed, which in turn made me smile and relax into their environment, too.
In Iquitos, one of the teenage girls at the orphanage mentioned she had never stopped to feel her heartbeat before like we had in class, and expressed this was her favorite part of the yoga experience. Her comment has especially inspired me to consistently take intentional time to feel and listen to my heartbeat, too, as this is something I can easily take for granted.
Connecting with the participants is a rewarding aspect of teaching, and it is those moments after class when someone shares their experience with me that I am reminded I am also a student and they are my teacher, too.
I haven't taught yoga since my second trimester of being pregnant, and now I am 10 weeks postpartum with a beautiful baby girl and am continually growing into motherhood. I think back to the orphanages, and feel blessed I had the opportunity to share those sacred moments with youth who are without parents. I was amazed how vibrantly full of light and love they were, and I saw how they connected immediately with anyone who visited them with nurturing intentions.
Even though I have now personally experienced that the bond between a mother and a child is special and unique, I have also felt a similar bond with children and adults who are not of my kin. I believe that a special connection can be made with anyone, and it comes down to the power of intention and our own willingness to be open to receiving and giving love, no matter what the relationship technically is or isn't.
I feel being a mother is being a teacher and a student. My daughter teaches me something everyday, just like my yoga students have taught me something every class. I hope to one day take my daughter to visit these orphanages so she can also experience the pure joy these children express for merely being listened to, played with, and loved on.
Sending love and gratitude to all the children with and without parents in the world. You are our teachers just as much as we are yours!
Peace and blessings,