Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yoga Classroom Rules

When Patanjali prescribed his 8-limbs of yoga, what were the rules he gave us for existing in the great, big yoga classroom of life? The yamas & niyamas. But is there a place for them in my 6th and 7th grade English classes? I'll let you know, but that's how my wish for a yoga classroom was born...

This morning as I forced myself through yet another chaturanga and wondered whether I was practicing tapas (discipline) or pushing too hard when I was just plain tapped out (a blog post for another day, perhaps?), my mind started to wander: tapas... now that would be a good one for my students... keep writing until the timer goes off, remember your tapas! As I pushed back, downnnward facing dog, I went through each of Patanjali's inner and outer observances and by the time I was inhaling - arms to the sky, I had forgotten about my tired body, chucked mindfulness out the window and was giddy over how well these "yoga rules" would fit into a junior high school classroom.

Before I share my take on the yamas & niyams, the red flags -

try as I might to justify it to myself, there is just no room for ishvaripranidhana in a NYC public school. Imagine the backlash from parents when they sign a student contract including a rule that sounds something like "devotion and surrender to god". While it might be an interesting twist from the tiring retort of "because I'm the teacher and I said so" (Now ____. god wants you to write this essay so just do it and offer the fruits up to your higher power), I'm not willing to try this one out just yet. Wonder if this could become "Ms. F is always right"? That's not my ego talking or anything...

brahmacharya - I can't lie; I whole-heartedly wish that all of my students would practice a little more sexual restraint, but it's not exactly something I want to post up on the wall for administrators to take notes on during observations. There is room, though, for restraint in the classroom - restraint from calling out, restraint from angry outbursts, etc and then when things get a little too spicy between students I can always slyly remind of them of brahmacharya *wink wink* and hope they catch my drift.

Yoga Classroom Rules - An Addendum

*Ahimsa: Non-Violence/Kindness
*Satya: Truthfulness
*Asteya: Non-Stealing (this counts for plagiarism, too!)
*Brahmacharya: Restraint (raise your hand; think before acting!)
*Aparigraha: Non-Greediness (sharing is caring!)
*Saucha: Cleanliness (yourself & your work area, please!)
*Santosha: Contentment/Acceptance (be ready for anything and then smile about it!)
*Tapas: Discipline (follow the rules, be prepared, be on time, take responsibility!)
*Svadhyaya: Self-Study (goal-setting, reflection/meta-cognition)
*Ishvaripranidhana: Respect for school authority figures (we have your best interest in mind, promise!)

What I'm struggling with is whether I should keep or ditch the Sanskrit. I do think it adds a quirky yogic-ness to what are otherwise some pretty basic, boring rules, but I don't know if it crosses the line into "Ms. F is just too weird" territory. Thoughts?

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