The Healing Power of Yoga by NGY Teacher & Trainer, Joyce McNally

Do you ever wonder what gifts you are truly giving in your Yoga classes? While we all want to make a lasting and positive impact on our students’ lives, the truth is that sometimes, it is hard to tell. Recently, the sweet gesture of a simple gift served as a reminder of the healing power of Yoga and why I love to teach Yoga to kids.

One afternoon before the start of class, a student ran up to me holding a gift bag. Eight-year-old Kate* had only been practicing Yoga with me for about a month, so I was surprised but touched by this gift of two beautiful candles. Kate is a sweet spirited student, always bringing a smile to the room and eager to participate and connect with her peers. I thanked Kate and her mom with a big hug, and we started class as usual. During the lesson, I noticed in the background that Kate’s mom was having a quiet conversation with the studio owner.

After class was over and the students parted, I mentioned to the studio owner how sweet Kate’s gift was. She then shared with me what Kate’s mom had told her. Kate had gone through significant trauma in her young life and suffered from trichotillomania as a result. Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by consistent urges to pull out one’s own hair. This disorder has numerous negative side effects other than hair loss and can even be fatal in some cases. However, Kate’s mom said that since Kate had started attending my Next Generation Yoga classes, she had stopped pulling her hair out and has made great strides in improvement with her disorder. Kate’s mom was beyond grateful that the simple elements of Yoga were so groundbreaking in her daughter’s recovery. I was shocked and saddened to hear about Kate’s struggle, but WOW! Once again, the power of Yoga has shown me how impactful our teachings can be.

We can never fully know what happens in our student’s lives outside of the classroom. Trauma, illness, bullying, loss – we can’t possibly predict or assume it. All we can do is offer a space to leave that all at the door. To just exist in the moment, to move together, to breathe. To connect in a positive way to one’s body and self. Kate’s is just one story of the ways that the reach of Yoga extends far beyond the classroom. This one really struck a chord with me. The realization of Yoga to heal and even save someone’s life goes far beyond what I could have ever imagined in bringing Yoga to kids. I can only hope that she continues using Yoga as a tool in her recovery process, and that every child who practices is impacted by the healing powers of Yoga.


Joyce McNally
Next Generation Yoga Teacher & Trainer

Medford, NJ

Joyce McNally has been sharing the gift of Yoga with children and families since 2002 and is considered a master Kid’s Yoga teacher. Joyce holds certification in the Next Generation Yoga for Kids program (ages 2-13); Radiant Child Yoga for Autism, ADHD, and Differently-Abled; Yoga for Teens; and has received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training certification. Joyce is also a Teacher Trainer for Next Generation Yoga. Joyce is committed to her belief that we are all beautiful and she seeks to share that message of self-love, self-care, and positive thinking that will benefit kids now and in the future.

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