A Day at Central Park East II
On Giving Tuesday, the Yoga Foster team, along with our Corepower yoga and lululemon partners, headed to Central Park East II in NYC to observe Yoga in the classroom.
The daily quote on her blackboard read: '“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. - Barack Obama.”
Nell, a 4th and 5th grade teacher at Central Park East II in Harlem, guided her students to the dance studio where they practice yoga every morning. Nell has been a Yoga Foster educator for three years now, after receiving a full grant from our program.
The excited students chose their mats, and methodically rolled them out in time for Nell to begin the class. Her gentle and steady voice had all of her students on their toes, eagerly listening and waiting for the next instruction.
We loved how Nell seamlessly flowed from breathing practices, to easy postures, to more challenging balancing postures. Her students never broke their attention from her - it was clear that their relationship with Nell was strong and filled with trust.
As the students practiced balancing in tree pose, Nell continued to ask them to think of one thing they liked about themselves. What made them special. This was the theme of the Yoga Foster curriculum that month - individuality.
After resting sweetly in do-nothing pose, Nell gently brought them into a sharing circle, where they had an opportunity to say what they liked about themselves. The pride in their faces was as powerful as to how they listened to each other with focus and respect.
In our interview with Nell, we asked her if she has noticed any shifts in her classroom from teaching yoga and mindfulness.
“Overall, the energy in our room is more focused. There’s less anxiety. Kids are constantly being challenged socially, emotionally, and physically. Many of them struggle with hunger and lack of sleep. In addition, they are being challenged academically. When we do yoga, it becomes easier to handle. They are more willing to make a choice in that moment on how to respond. This is powerful because once we accept there are going to be challenges everyday, we can take it a step at a time. Our ability to overcome and learn from them becomes infinite.”
We had the chance to speak with one of Nell’s students, isabella, on how yoga has impacted her life:
“Yoga is very relaxing for me. I like to stretch before school, at school, even when I’m doing homework. I love do nothing pose. As soon as I close my eyes, I feel like I can go to sleep. It makes me feel really happy.”