Because of a timetable change, my new favourite morning is Wednesday because that is when I go to teach yoga to the group of special needs students at the local special needs school. Every week when I open the classroom door, little hands stretch out to touch mine and say hello.
On reflection over this past month, what makes these yoga classes standout is not so much what is achieved or how far the students have come in such a short space of time nor how they surprise myself and the teachers with what they can remember or new challenges they can do, it is the profound moments of presence that when they happen for each of the students, they jolt you and are imprinted steadfastly in memory.
Perhaps it is all the more prominent for me because this moment of presence is a moment of true connection with a child on a non-verbal level.
Today, it was a moment with Ellie when I lifted her back into fish pose and she raised her head and held my eyes with utter trust, knowing I was there to help and she moulded her upper back around my hands. With Zed it was a moment in child’s pose when I individually stretched out their back muscles and I carefully untucked his feet and felt his back melt under my touch. With Rob, it was during superman as I held him with my gaze communicating you can do it, you can lift off the ground and I held and held and held him with my focus until he lifted off the ground too and gave me a smile of satisfaction. Or last week when the class walked past me back to the classroom and Harry turned his head and said “Thank you, Loraine.” This was the most present moment of clear and direct communication Harry has made in all the time I’ve been teaching them. I haven’t mentioned my name for weeks. I looked at the teacher in astonishment who looked back at me and said, “That was surprising!”
As a teacher or a parent of special needs and autistic children, it is those moments of clear connection and presence that ring out clearly like a bell and make such a resounding impact that they stop you in your tracks. This is the gift these children bring us – what yoga guides us towards – clear, meaningful moments of presence and what a joy they are