by Lisa Hollister
“Authenticity”. It’s another round robin at teacher training, and this time we are supposed to say one word that explains what brought us here. I go first and start right in with my story but Jean, who is here to teach us about restorative yoga reels me in, saying “Relax your body. Breathe. Not a story. One word.” And out comes “authenticity.”
I am a elementary school teacher in an inner city public school. The challenges we face educating our students are many and varied. I have dedicated myself over nineteen years to providing my underserved children with materials and experiences that are commonplace for privileged children, but severely lacking in many public schools. When I look at my students I see possibility, but I also know circumstance weighs in heavily.
When Bread & Yoga moved to 212th street I could see the fluttering prayer flags from my classroom window. It was a peaceful sight, and at the same time a nagging reminder of opportunities that so many of my students do not have. So I did what I always do– I looked for a way to bring to my kids what they don’t have. I raised funds, took a children’s yoga teacher training and began an after school yoga class for my students.
Initially I worried that the kids might think it was boring, but mixing poses with games and activities engaged them. I was surprised and amused to find them clamoring for “final relaxation”, our little savasana. More kids were begging to be in yoga, and I started another class. But I still felt like it wasn’t enough…I wasn’t a “real” yoga teacher. So I came across the street to the haven of Bread & Yoga for teacher training, looking to find my place as an authentic yoga teacher. And that’s the long version.