Last month brought the beginning of another class session with my beloved young students. Working with children often magnifies my understanding of traits and struggles that are common tous all, and I know, as we embark on another season together, that these young students will be teaching me even as I instruct them.
The concept of "stretching" is notorious for bringing out an attitude of striving and discontent in any age group. And yet, expanding our range of motion in a mindful way can be a deeply healthful and balancing activity. It is also essential to opening new doorways of expression for our young dancers.
One afternoon, as we gently approach the often sensitive activity of "splits", I watch a range of reactions not unlike what might surface in an adult's yoga class. Defeat was present, and some pride, and enthusiasm, and much desire to possess the desired outcome, now. Just as I am about to speak to the need for awareness and patience, the entire group decides to try a "trick", a dubious activity involving pushing defiant limbs into the wall in hopes of attaining success, now.
As I watch and wait for a moment, giving an opportunity for the idea to run its course, I ponder the words I know I will offer as we reconvene, words that may be of relevance to those of us grown-ups who might also, on occasion, push blindly into the next threshold.
I will say to them, "How can you know where you're going if you don't first know where you are?".
And I will say to them, "How can you have the strength to move forward if you don't first have the strength to hold steady as you are?".
And perhaps they will not understand. But perhaps they will, now or someday. And what might the invitation to pause, breathe, and look clearly awaken for them? What might it awaken for all of us?
On this particular afternoon, we settle again in our colorful circle of yoga mats, take a deep breath, and learn one small lesson in patience as we hold steady, just as we are. And then, in the small, clear space we have created with our own awareness, we begin to dance.