This article was written by Brandie Freeman — a high school science teacher for more than a decade. She is married with two boys and spends her free time gardening, chasing chickens and children, and doing yoga. To read more by her, visit the Sustainable Schoolteacher Facebook page or her blog.
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I formerly thought yoga was an activity appropriate only for super-flexible women whose thighs don't touch or hippies living in the foothills of the Himalayas on a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Turns out that yoga is perfect for a 34-year-old mother and teacher sans thigh gap and nirvana. Since starting, it has helped me to feel more grounded, comfortable in my own skin, and less stressed. Touted benefits include reduced back pain and increased muscle tone and flexibility, amongst others.
As I have embodied certain asanas, aka postures or poses, the past few months, I have been reminded of some teaching experiences I think we can all relate to.
It's Friday of conference week. You've met with all your students' parents (except the ones you really needed to talk to) and seen where a few of them get their "charm" and "charisma." While this can be a productive and telling time, you are mostly just done. Allow me to introduce you to rabbit pose.
Think you're too clumsy or uncoordinated for yoga? Well, it's probably just right for you, especially if you stumble over book bags and jackets on the reg. I swear they come out of nowhere! With the half-moon pose, you can pair a little tranquility with your topple.
Ever get to the end of school day and realize you never sat down? Well, no worries. You can make your own seat anywhere, anytime with the chair pose. It doesn't make your quads or glutes burn at all! *LIES*
Remember back in the fall when we had Halloween, a full moon, and the presidential election all in one week? That would be the perfect time for mountain pose. This asana also pairs well with Monday mornings and/or a blissful unannounced classroom observation.
True story: my first year teaching I had four, count them, 1-2-3-4 urinary tract infections. No one told me that teaching and going to the restroom were mutually exclusive. Now every time I get into the eagle pose, I am reminded of my 22-year-old self donning rose-colored glasses and a full bladder. Make time to pee. You are that important.
I don't think I have watched an entire movie on a school night since I started my career eleven years ago. Within five minutes, I am dead to world- thus the corpse pose. Of course when I actually go to bed instead of dozing off on the couch, I am wide awake struggling not to replay the movie of my life mentally. Oh, the irony.
Hallelujah for those two precious weeks at the end of December when you get a chance to breathe (and make personal bargains about eating the treats all your students have baked and bought for you). Between Netflix, snickerdoodles, and family gatherings, that first touch of slacks on the skin of my thighs in January is usually quite abrasive and a little too snug. Enter the bridge pose...
I would like to think of myself as a pleasant-smelling, well-groomed human, but some days in the chemistry lab make me doubt I have seen the inside of a shower. Teaching children who can't drive yet how to light Bunsen burners should come with combat pay. I think we all have activities that make us discreetly take a little whiff. Tree pose is a great way to keep it classy and check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Oh the bliss of waving goodbye to children on the last day of school. Once I hear that final bell ring, I sail out of the building like an ice skater. Well, maybe faster than that. Relatable? Then join me for a quick dancer's pose after the last bus rolls out of the parking lot.
Everyone says the three best things about teaching are June, July and August. I don't know about you, but my summers are only two months long. Regardless, June and July are pretty high on my list of awesome perks that come with being an educator. So, I leave you with the locust pose. *Cue "I Believe I Can Fly"*
If you read this list and thought "I'm not flexible enough to do yoga," I would kindly suggest that is analogous to saying you are too dirty for a bath. Since I started four months ago, I have learned the value of loving my body and being kind to myself. My instructors are patient, and they challenge me to respect where I am in my development, no matter how scaled-down or advanced that may be. I am sure you will find the same to be true if you attend a class in your area.
Cheers and Namaste!