I arrived early, and the girls were already on their mats which were pre-delivered. I distributed blocks and eye pillows, then we had a short introduction in a circle amongst ourselves. The yoga class officially began in a seated position, where everyone was quiet and tuned in. Then we did a few rounds of modified sun salutations to warm up. Teaching in Filipino proved to be its own challenge. But because the girls were so open to learn, my own limitations didn't get in the way. We laughed quite a lot since the poses were very new to them, and I was happy to see they allowed themselves to be light and silly and not take things so seriously. I'd hear comments that it feels good, it's like getting a massage, or that it's painful, or their legs are trembling, but they all said it in a positive light and with good humor. I deliberately did not give any hands-on adjustments and also chose the poses I covered carefully, so as not to set off any triggers of abuse or violation of boundaries. After a few standing poses, a few seated poses, a backbend, and a twist, we closed with savasana and I played Amazing Grace. I gave simple instructions to use their eye pillows, to relax, and to let go of tension. We did a few minutes of Jivamukti-style meditation before we closed with a circle of sharing.
The common themes that came up during sharing were that they felt stretched, they felt good, some fell asleep, many liked savasana. One girl said she was able to release her endless thoughts and worries, and the exact words she used was that she felt "at peace". Another girl articulated so well that she felt not just the physical effects of yoga, but that she felt the calmness in her own heart.
It was such a beautiful experience. Truth be told, I was seated and meditating during their savasana, and I felt like crying, because there I was, with these girls trying their best to survive what has happened to them, making the most of it, and I root for them to find the love within themselves that they deserve. I realize even more that yoga is indeed a gift, and I feel so grateful that I could be of service to those who need this peace the most. I have committed to teaching every Tuesday morning until end of November, and I am humbled by the thought that what comes relatively easy to me is something that they could truly benefit from.
If you are a yoga teacher, I urge you to take yoga to those who need them but have no access to them-- shelters, prisons, underserved communities. Let us be agents of the peace that we teach.