One of my yoga classes at Lima Juvenile Detention Center this month was very emotionally charged. A participant was autistic and all of his peers were openly mocking him for trying so hard to perform the physical aspects of the practice. After accepting the fact that none of the other kids were engaged or participating, I ended up pulling the special needs student out of the group for a private lesson on the other side of the gym. Away from the cackling and criticism, he was able to fully focus on the breathing and poses. After just a few moments, as the tension and strain melted away, calm seemed to descend upon him.
I'm so proud of him for all of his effort, especially in the face of so much adversity. I'm also proud of myself for holding it together without lashing out in anger at the bullies. Instead, the overwhelming sense of compassion which was overflowing from my heart expressed itself through my teaching. Still, I find myself suffering from an unbearable ache in my chest just thinking about the treatment such a child may be subjected to on a daily basis.
Though this incident is yet another confirmation that there's entirely too much ugliness in our world, I'm filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be there for him in that difficult moment. It was an honor to encourage him, to let him know that he's good enough exactly as he is, regardless of what anyone else has told him. As painful as it is to witness such cruelty, I'm all the more aware that it's a privilege to be on the path of yoga service.
While on my way out the door after class, one of the academic teachers stopped me to say thanks. She wanted me to know that the entire teaching team has noticed the change in the kids on Tuesday afternoons after yoga. She reported that they are calm, positive, and seem to be able to focus more effectively. Yet another thing to be grateful for... especially after such a challenging day.
Transformation Yoga Project is grateful for the support of Tula Software which sponsors a portion of our work at the Lima Juvenile Detention Center, and for the support of all of our donors who make this yoga service possible.