This week I asked my boys why they do yoga, #broga!

My year 8 yoga class (12 yr old boys) is entirely made up of boys, more and more each week. Noisy, rambunctious and lippy, they take about 10 minutes to calm down. I am used the crazy chat by now, the giggling, the shoving and the teasing comes as par for the course.

Suddenly from being cute little kids, their voices have dropped, their shoulders broadened and they are perceived as thugs in the eyes of society, reflecting our own brutish nature, projecting it onto these relatively innocent boys.

And then comes the calm – how are you today?

“My girlfriend broke up with me”
“My chemistry teacher told me off”

“I hurt my leg in rugby”
“I have a big match tomorrow and I am worried about my knee”

“I feel so tired, can we just do yoga sleep?”

Then the class commences, the chaotic, arm balances, spontaneous partner work, until finally they beg for mercy, they beg for the peace of yoga nidra, like babies, the crawl down onto their mats, checking each other out – slowly letting go of the expectations, the constant judgment and assessments and let go…..the most beautiful point of my day and of their week, it seems.

As they come out of their stillness and lie like embryos on their mats, their breathing is deeper and calmer, their bodies are no longer twitching or fiddling, just absolute physical and mental stillness for a few moments.

When the class is over I ask a few of them who have been doing yoga for over a month, why they do yoga, what makes them come back?

Their answers surprised me!

No.1 (12 yr old)

“I love yoga because it’s spiritual”

me – what do you mean?

“it feels so calm, so peaceful, so light, like I am full of light – I never feel like that, not even when I am sleeping. “

me – wow, like religion?

“No, not like religion, like a fullness – I cant explain.”

Me- thank you…

No.2 (13 yr old)

“I feel like its spiritual”

me – what does that mean?

“I don’t know how to explain it, its like empty and light, like something leaves me and I feel calm.”

Me – wow, I didn’t think you would say that

“well, that’s what its like” shrugs.

No.3 (12 yr old)

“I don’t know, I think it makes me better at the sports I do like rugby and hockey, it helps my game and relieves pain when I am stiff”

No.4 (17 years old)

“I love this community of people, how it makes us all feel so connected and happy, it releases me from worries and allows me to do better at my exams and assessments, I feel confident and well in myself on a very deep level. I am so grateful.”

Over the years I have had the feedback that the boys are longing for a forum where they can show their feelings, relax and be cared for. School has traditionally not been that place but with yoga (in its broadest sense, meaning unconditional positive regard), there is a safe and calm space, where the mind can breathe and the spirit is relaxed, where they are seen as whole and complete beings and completely welcome.