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Art & Yoga Tea w/teens

August 24, 2011

I arrive at the girl’s shelter with my yoga mat, ipod, speakers and a large thermos of tea. The girls’ knees bounce nervously up and down as I ask, “How are you today?” “Frustrated and annoyed” they answer. We talk about how uncomfortable it is to feel this way.

“Inner anger can mess up our relationship with ourselves and everyone else. Removing this stored anger in the body makes it easier to control our temper, and allows us to leave past frustrations in the past,” I explain as we warm up.

The girls in this locked facility are in state custody. They have been arrested or are being sent to a new home or detox center. The average stay is three weeks. The class is always a mix of new girls and some I’ve met before—5 to 15 plus staff. The staff are present to keep me and the girls safe, but they also look forward to practicing yoga.

They do the Kriya for Inner Anger, * and when they lie in relaxation, they are completely still for 15 minutes! Some girls tell me that this is the most relaxed they ever remember being. After class, we drink yogi tea and draw. They draw peace signs, flowers, hearts and one girl draws her home, and one her cup of yogi tea (above).

The school principal tells me a “yoga day” is a noticeably better day. “When they come back up on the day of yoga they’re a lot more relaxed. I wish we had yoga more than once a week…they are more relaxed, less likely to snap at each other…”

It’s not hard to do this. Just a few more hours in my week … about the same as watching a movie. But the effect is big- As one staff member puts it,“…these are girls with a lot of frustration, a lot of anger issues, and usually they haven’t been given any good way to deal with those things…the yoga program here is really valuable because it teaches them to…have something to do to help calm themselves down. The breathing is really important, and some of the exercises she gives them for relaxation.”

*pg 38,39, 40 Art & Yoga: Kundalini Awakening in Everyday Life

Hari Kirin
artandyoga.com

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