How Yoga Informs my Classroom Teaching

I had the pleasure of teaching my very first consistently scheduled yoga class this morning!  Thank you to the lovely people who came to share some yoga.  Following this morning’s class I felt compelled to share on Tale of Two Teachers about how my yoga practice informs my teaching practice.  I’ve shared a bit on our blog about my yoga experiences, but I am aware that the concept of yoga can be a bit sensitive for people, so I try to steer clear of talking about it too much in most cases.  Please know that the experiences I am writing about and sharing are my own opinions.  I do not wish to force my opinions upon anyone (especially my students) and I do not intend to offend anyone with my opinions. 

5.30am sun rise in Mexico.

5.30am sun rise in Mexico.

As many of you know, I’m a former rhythmic gymnast; I come from an extensive dance and gymnastics background, so my extension to the yoga mat really is the only natural “next step”.  I started practicing yoga back in my gymnastics days, but have come to take it more seriously in recent years.  At first, I wanted to do yoga to fix what I like to call my “million dollar spine” (hello, chronic spinal injuries!)  Thankfully, this plan has worked for the most part.  Like many people who start practicing yoga for one reason or another, the benefits of the physical practice eventually reached my mind (which has needed a LOT of work!) In case you didn’t pick up on how anxious and nervy I can be, let me be the first to wholeheartedly admit that I tend to have anxious, nervous meltdowns every now and then.  We all do.  BUT – the great part is that through the physical practice of yoga (also known as asana), I have learned to calm my mind and my spirit and my soul.  It’s amazing, really.  If you would have met me 10 years ago you’d likely think I was headed down Insanity Road (self-imposed).

Warrior III atop a rotten stump in rain boots...not easy.

Warrior III atop a rotten stump in rain boots…not easy.

This first week at school, starting up a grade 7 class, was amazing, terrifying, invigorating, stressful, inspiring, challenging…it was a work out in all kinds of ways.  Yes, I went to bed at 9.15pm on Wednesday night and yes, I had my requisite meltdown (complete with “ugly cry”) on Friday night.  One might think that after such a crazy week at work who would want to work on the weekend?  During my Uni days I tried my best to stay away from shift work (especially on weekends), but I did end up working weekends more often than not.  I really did not enjoy working weekends, especially Sundays, so I was a tiny bit apprehensive about taking on a Sunday yoga class.  Today’s yoga class proved me wrong.  Teaching yoga is good for me.  It’s more like 75 minutes of therapy rather than work.

Yoga poses have become a "go to" photography experience for my husband, hence this shot, taken in Paris in front of the Louvre.

Yoga poses have become a “go to” photography experience for my husband, hence this shot, taken in Paris in front of the Louvre.

I have learned that when I practice yoga I become a better person, friend, wife, daughter, teacher.  This week I have received some genuinely kind feedback from my teacher (and non teacher) friends.  I’ve had people tell me that my students are “so lucky” to have me as their teacher, even if it is for a short time.  The comments and kindness people have shared with me are appreciated and they make me feel like I AM doing a good job.  However, I wouldn’t be the person I am without yoga.  The creative lessons I come up with?  Yoga.  The calm, collected way I lead my classroom?  Yoga.  The way I talk about gratitude and kindness with my students?  Yoga.  The way I live my life, full of gratitude?  Yoga.  The way I can de-stress after a long day at school?  Yoga.

A pre-surf warm up in Tofino with my dear friends, Naomi and Olivia Keane.  Check out the Keane Sisters and the amazing work they do HERE.

A pre-surf warm up in Tofino with dear friends, Naomi and Olivia Keane. Check out the Keane Sisters and the amazing work they do HERE.

I wasn’t kidding when I said in my last post that teaching, to me, is an extension of who I am rather than just a job.  It is my opinion that yoga helps me become a better person; therefore, I become a better teacher.  Through yoga I learn peace and when I let that peace manifest in me, I can share it with my students and my school community.

Here is a video clip of a community class I taught last December.  All funds raised went to Let Us Create, a Cambodian NGO (focusing on art education) my husband and I support.  If you’d like to take part in my local yoga class, come check it out on Sundays at Studio 4 Athletics (downtown Victoria) from 11-12.15pm.

Karley

7 thoughts on “How Yoga Informs my Classroom Teaching

  1. My Dear Karley, I love to read your blog. It is so nice to see the enthusiasm and genuine love for a job as a teacher that can be at times exhausting, stressfull, and difficult but at the same time very rewarding since like me you make children’s lives happy and joyful and know that you made their lives better. You wake up in the morning and want to change the world and you do it one child at a time. You have no idea just like me how much of an impact that you leave on your students. Thank you for giving me the chance to read your blog and for getting a view into your classroom it is a great joy. As I have begun my 11 year of teaching, this blog gives me the inspiration to continue to make my lesson plans, lessons, and professional practice original , creative, and unique for the students that I have the pleasure . Thank you again, for putting yourself out there and never stop being an original. Since the world ,needs more teachers like you. Have a wonderful year and I am looking forward to seeing your future blog posts.

    • Hi Dayna,

      Thanks for reading our posts and for your comment. We love our job! As you know, being a teacher is a pretty unique and amazing experience 🙂 What grade are you teaching this year?

      Karley

  2. Dear Girls, i would just like to say this blog site is a good read, I am not one to sit and read often but i have followed this for a bit now. So well done girls keep up the great work. Jamie

  3. One of the things that you might have hinted at, is that yoga is a practice much like teaching is a practice, and much like medicine is a practice.

    No one is perfect. All of it requires the mental component to exist. At the same time we all approach it differently.

    The more we practice, the more we reflect, the more we dig deep, the more we can express in one form or another what we need to express.

    Teaching in a school classroom can be a huge challenge. Ever deal with 35 kids and all of their mental needs? Of course you understand! Yet, it’s something that needs to be addressed more in schools.

    Kids aren’t just bodies and numbers. Their mental states impact the classroom. We, as teachers, need to be aware and help guide them so we can teach effectively. That means being aware of our own mental states, etc.

    Keep up the great work!

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