Monday, March 14, 2011

The View

Lucia's school has four kindergarten classrooms, a total of 96 students and four awe-inspiring teachers. Every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance, these four teachers perch in a row on a kid-height counter that spans the length of one classroom. The 96 children sit on the floor criss-cross-appelesauce, almost stone silent, heads cocked to see the four teachers. Barely raising their voices above a quiet conversational level, the teachers talk about the weather or what the kindergarten day will be like or a special event coming up at the school. The teachers seemingly look through the sea of five- and six-year-olds, ignoring raised hands, chatting about the activities for the day among themselves. The teachers don't even address the kids who are acting out. The kids who can hold it together quiet the loudmouths like pros, absently waving their peace sign fingers in front of the kids disturbing the Kindergarten Teacher Hour starring Ms. Thorp, Ms.Kowabata, Ms. Dadashi and Ms. Martinez. I've very affectionately coined this morning ritual "The View" (after the Barbara Walters show on the ABC Network.)

Last week on The [Kindergarten] View, after the hosts queried each other about who was on for recess duty that day and crossing collective fingers that it wouldn't be another rainy day recess, the topic drifted to problem solving. "Remember what Ms. Lee, the old school counselor used to say...." Ms. Kowabata mused in her sing-song way, "about keeping problems small."

"Right" said Ms. Thorp, putting her index finger to her temple and furrowing her brow, "What did she used to say about that?"

"Keep your problems small by addressing them RIGHT away" Ms. Kowabata instructed her co-hosts, "then your problems will stay small and be easier to solve."

More conversation ensued among the four hosts-- about telling the truth, not holding feelings inside, asking for help. All the while, the children watched and listened, completely star struck. Eventually, Ms. Dadashi observed, "Ms. Thorp's class is the most quiet this morning. Let's watch them walk to their classroom first." And then all of the kids quietly migrated to their respective classrooms.

It doesn't matter what the topic is. Every day, the teachers command this attention from the kids. I stay and watch every chance I get. What I love the most about The [Kindergarten] View is the absence of preaching. There is so much Kindergartners need to learn-- abcs, 123s, hygiene, penmanship. The View offers a totally different angle of learning for the kids. It's almost like the kids are learning these important lessons despite themselves because their teachers are these rock-star, famous people and the kids want to be just like them.

I notice a similar phenomenon among my yoga students. Often, a student will say, "I really wish my partner would practice, but they're so resistant." Over the years, I've learned that the only way to get people to practice is to inspire them with your own practice. "Why are you so calm?" someone might ask or, "Your skin looks so good. New product?" And, after enough times of the answer being "Yoga", this person will try it. You will be their rock star, celebrity talk show host that they want to emulate. And, just like the fabulously well-behaved, compassionate teachers cultivate and nurture 96 well-behaved, compassionate children, we can do the same by practicing yoga and sharing the benefits just by being ourselves.

Friday, March 11, 2011

If your brow is really wrinkly....

"If your brow is really wrinkly, put a needle in it." Sing this to the tune of Beyonce's lyrics, "if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it...."(From All the Single Ladies). Lately, I sing this all the time.

Thanks to acupuncture my SI joint pain is cured. It feels so great. I can do forward bends. I can do flip turns. I can have dance parties with Lucia to the Glee soundtrack. Last week at acupuncture, the healer had a student in tow which meant that everything happened twice (except for the actual needles). All the assessments, pulse taking, tongue examination, random stuff they do with their flat palms over my body. Because I was lying on the table for so long with my eyes closed while the two of them "worked me over," I found myself feeling more relaxed than usual. I hardly noticed the healer putting the needles in.

So I was more than surprised when, after putting in all the needles, the healer dimmed the lights and said, "Now you only have to do one more thing... relax the furrow in your brow." What?!!! I had no idea I had a furrow in my brow. Flippantly with a hint of indignation, I mumbled, "Can't you just stick a needle in it?" To which the healer said, "Sure." And he popped one right between my eyebrows.

My brow furrow is significant. I'm pretty sure I could hold a dime, maybe even a quarter in my vertical forehead crease. It's possible I was born with a little tilted eyebrow squint. I consciously try to relax my brow on a regular basis--during yoga practice, when I have insomnia, when I look in the mirror-- but this sensation with the needle was revelatory. I wasn't doing anything mentally to relax my wrinkle, it was being relaxed for me. It's like when you get a massage and the masseuse holds the weight of your head in their hands and you can feel the heft of your head but it doesn't matter because it's not your responsibility to hold it up.

I fantasized that the forehead needle would have a botoxian effect and I would leave acupuncture a new woman, years younger, perkier, less stressed. Alas, the needle offered no long term forehead changes, but it wasn't for naught either. I have been left with the knowledge that my brow can really soften, even if it requires external intervention.

"Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh....If you're brow is really wrinkly, put a needle in it.If you're brow is really wrinkly, put a needle in it....Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh.... "