In 29 years, I have yet to have a successful first when it comes to school. My best friend’s parents still comment about “that little girl with the long braid who just would not stop bawling” my first day of kindergarten. The first day I walked into school to find a substitute teacher, my dad dropped me off inside the classroom and walked out. I saw this stranger and turned on my heels immediately after one glance and walked right out, catching up with my dad and determinedly walking with him toward home. He was so taken aback that he just took me home with him! My mom was not happy about that one.
Then came middle school, the first day, crucial to one’s success the rest of life - or so the middle school mind thinks. What did I do? Trip, fall flat out, pile of books sprawling through the air everywhere. I hit the dirt so hard I blacked out for a minute. I woke to my friend’s older brother pointing at me and laughing. First day of high school, I tripped going up the stairs. Up. The first day I took on a huge leadership role in college, I unwittingly walked into a glass door so hard that I fell down backward and ended up with nothing less than a unicorn horn protruding from my nose.
But none of these compare to my very first day teaching 10th grade English. I got through the first 20 minutes like a breeze, feeling as inspiring as Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society (in reality, I was boring as all get out!). Then, I locked my knees. I fainted. On my first day. In front of 35 sixteen year olds. They thought I died. I found out later that one of them literally said, “Go get the nurse! I think she died!”
Why share all of this? Because even as an adult, as an eighth-year teacher, I still get incredibly nervous before I start school every year. I still get knobbly knees and wonder what my students will think of me and if I can do them the justice they deserve. If I feel that as a grown woman, I can only imagine what my kids feel walking through the door! Peer judgment, desires to please teachers, mental pleadings to stay out of the principal’s office, hopes to do better this year than last, friendship changes, athletic tryouts, competitions to keep up with new trends in clothes, shoes, music, everything. And it’s not even like you can leave this feeling at school anymore - it all follows you home on social media!
My number one goal is always going to be to help my kids through all that jungle of feelings to find their security and confidence. And that’s where yoga comes in.
If I need it as an adult to battle my nerves and to catch me after a long, tough day at school, how could it not be great for kids, too? Actually, I know it is! I use breathing in my classroom to relieve tension, poses for brain breaks to get the body going, and teach after-school classes that are an absolute blast for me and for them. I’ve seen yoga help change the structure of a student’s day for the better. Don’t they all deserve that?
I look back to my, well, first day fumbles if you will and think how much I wish I had had yoga back then. But I am overjoyed to have it now to help that slightly klutzy kiddo like me pick themselves right back up again!
My biggest tip for the beginning of the school year? Take some time to do some yoga whenever you can! Oh, and don’t lock your knees in front of sixteen year olds!