Together We are One by NGY Teacher Michelle Gunnell

I wish I had a picture from my class at the library today to share. I wish I could transport the feeling that I held inside of me out to others, as I walked out of the building. It was the most loving and sweet feeling … it moved me to tears. Literally. Wiping away tears as I ended class and walked away.

I’ve been teaching a Next Generation Yoga class at the local library for a little over a year now. But this summer, with word spreading about Kids Yoga and with kids out of school, the class has grown exponentially. On this day, there were nearly 45 kids – a wonderful GUMBO of kids! (That’s what we call beautiful diversity down here in New Orleans! It always comes back to good food!) We had fun, we moved our bodies in and out of Yoga poses, we used the breathing ball to learn how to calm our bodies and minds, we danced … we relaxed … we sent love and peace to ourselves and to others.

Aug 2016 - M Gunnell

As the children lay in Savasana, aka “do nothing” part of Yoga, eyes closed, we imagined that we were on a cloud drifting in the sky above. The sun shining down on our faces. A beautiful rainbow leading down to earth where everyone we know and love was looking up at us, proud, sending us peace and love. We reciprocated, sending peace and love back down to earth. To our loved ones. To the world.

Soon, the meditation came to an end, the kids slowly sat up, and as we do at the end of every Next Generation Yoga class … we closed by bringing our palms together and saying:

Palms pointing to ourselves, “There is Light inside of Me”

Palms pointing to someone else, “There is Light Inside of You”

Palms pointing to the whole room of kids and caregivers, “And, Together WE ARE ONE!”

As I pointed across from me in the middle of this beautiful closing, there was a young boy, about 9 years old whom I recognized from the beginning of the class. He didn’t really want to participate, because he could see that he was the oldest kid in the class, but his caregiver encouraged him to do it with the other little kids they had come with. I could tell that he was feeling a little “too cool” for Yoga with the little kids … but over the course of the class he really got into it. I was impressed!

I pointed to him, looked him in the eyes, and with every ounce of love that I had … I sent it ALL to him, letting him know that I SAW HIM, I APPRECIATED HIM!

And you know what happened?

He kept his eyes on me, unwavering, and as he spoke to me, I could feel that he SAW ME, THAT HE APPRECIATED ME and he really GOT IT, if even for just that moment he could see and feel the love.

It’s not always easy to look someone in the eye and acknowledge them. For kids and adults alike, it can be uncomfortable at times. But in this moment, the young boy was able to do so, because he felt safe and loved.

It’s not always easy (and that’s OK!), but when you have moments and classes like I did today… this is it! I am doing my part to SEE our children, to HEAR our children, and to TEACH our children that WE ARE ONE! To make them feel safe, to embrace our differences and learn from each other. To use movement, our voices and our breath to express and cope with our feelings constructively. We need to teach children that there is nothing wrong with being angry or sad or glad, but how we react to those feelings, how we process and deal with them … that’s what is important. That is where the Yoga comes in.

Today was a gift to me … and acknowledgment for myself that this is why I teach Next Generation Yoga for Kids.

I challenge each and every one of you reading this to find a way to be part of the change our world so desperately needs right now! After a summer of chaos and confusion, we need this so much! Be mindful of your thoughts, words and actions … for every one of them can have a lasting vibrational effect … good or bad. But wouldn’t you rather those vibrations be for the greater good? I’ll answer for you. Yes, yes you would.

Michelle Gunnell
Next Generation Yoga Teacher & Trainer
New Orleans, LA

MichelleGunnellHeadshotMichelle has worked with children since 2005 teaching dance, volunteering at the Louisiana Children’s Museum and eventually becoming a certified Elementary School Teacher in 2007. After receiving her 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) certification, she began teaching Yoga to adults & kids drawing upon her experiences and knowledge as a classroom teacher. She was then inspired to open a family-friendly Yoga studio with her own family in 2014. Michelle took her first Next Generation Yoga Teacher Training for 2-7 year olds the same year and has since also graduated from the NGY Teacher Training for 8-13 year olds. She immediately felt a connection to Jodi Komitor, NGY Founder, and the methodology that makes an NGY class so fun & successful!

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