Namasté. My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.
Thursdays are yoga days. One of the most wonderful things I have been able to do with some of the students at Helen Keller is to lead them in a weekly yoga practice. Like most other aspects of this experience, this is something completely new for me. I have been interested in yoga for a while, but have only become more serious in my own practice in the past year or so, never really thinking that I would teach others. Thanks to my yoga instructor Aunt Sue, I was gifted with a wonderful set of yoga cards specifically for use with children. With their help, I have slowly introduced Child’s Pose, Mountain Pose, and Butterfly Pose among others to the two oldest groups of English classes with whom I work. That is until today.
Today, I decided to try something new and do yoga with the nine and ten year olds. I was able to take them two at a time, which made it less daunting, but I was still nervous about how we would be able to communicate. As I led them downstairs to the sports room, I told them that we would be doing yoga today. That statement was met with blank stares, neither of them knowing what yoga is, but excitement about trying something new. We got to the room, took off our shoes, and pulled out our mats. From the first moment of sitting together, my relaxation playlist coming through the speakers, I knew that this would be special.
Both students I was with this morning are visually impaired, with one being nearly completely blind. We are fairly limited in our communication, none of us being strong enough in each other’s language to use it completely to explain things. It was so beautiful to experience showing one student the picture on the yoga card and watching her turn to the other student and coach him verbally and physically into the next pose. We fumbled through some of the poses and giggled a little bit when everyone needed a break to get a tissue at the same time. When we got to the end of our practice, the final seated position, I thought I had come to the hardest part of our time together. How on earth was I going to explain what “Namasté” means? I figured that I would wait until a time when I was with another teacher and have her help explain the word. The only explanation I gave to them was that at the end of our practice, I say namasté, and they say it back to me. I looked to them and said “Namasté”, and without missing a beat, one of the students said back, “Salaam, namasté”. I was completely taken aback. What he had said to me was, “Peace”. Without anything but the music, movement, and our breathing, he had understood. Even with the barrier of our language, our limited conversation, we had indeed been united in this time together and had come to experience a profound connection, just a little bit of peace in our complicated lives.
While putting his shoes back on, this same student said to me, “Ms. Sarah, the yoga is beautiful.” I could not agree more.