Better than, more gifted, more flexible, less able, more friendly, less sociable, ADHD< Aspergers, dyspraxic, dyslexic…….
On and on these labels, “help” teachers and parents to differentiate in a class, categorising and measuring outcomes, people, products.
As OfSted looks at “inclusion”, and we take side glances at Finlands’ non-streaming, all inclusive successful and happy school system, it strikes me how aptly yoga fits into these categories.
Are we not all looking to belong, to connect, to be part of a whole? Where does this longing come from? It comes from within, yoga says, it is your brithright, it is the truth, this connection, that you may feel on a forest walk or in the midst of a giggling fit with your best friend, or in a big group of friends, on a roller coaster, as you scream together. This is the truth of human existence.
In the light of this, our system seems to go in the other direction, dividing up, understanding by division and by competition. Competition is important for people to do better, I hear you say. And I ask myself, really? I notice kids working together, the ones who get it, teaching the ones who don’t, and noticing how much more they get out of the class by teaching others and by engaging in teaching themselves. I notice how this group work enhances the sense of unity, friendship and cohesion and it seems to me the goal has been met.
Yoga is a sport. a philosophy, an emotional toolkit to help any child through school, whether they are in the top stream or in the lowest stream for maths or whether they play in the rugby team or whether they are overweight. Yoga is inherently democratic.
Sure, even a yoga teacher needs to be able to differentiate in a class, there are those who can touch their toes and there are those who cannot! There are those who have strength to hold their body weight and there are those who do not.
However, there is no competition. The concept of competition is anathema to yoga, which aims to bring a class to a state of harmony, acceptance of themselves and others, unity within themselves and with the outer world. Honouring differences, we are more able to see a group as a unified body. With compassion and understanding, we can bring people together under the banner of mindful yoga for teens.