Yoga Magic Part 1:
Well, when your mom is a kids’ yoga teacher, you inevitably play the role of guinea pig from time to time. So you know a few poses. And you know how much yoga means to dear old Mom, so sometimes you indulge her yoga whims. And you have some muscle memory of the rush of energy and relaxation that comes from filling your lungs, moving your spine, stretching your hammies and glutes, getting the blood and oxygen – the life force – moving through your body.
But even this mom/kids’ yoga teacher was surprised that these two boys were so hungrily eager to bend and move.
Let me back up – –
Last week, I was already feeling washed out by the muggy air and gray drizzle and a whole lot of butt-in-chair work at my computer when I went to check on my 13-year-old sons in the family room.
I knew they had been playing an online game for most of the afternoon, and I had already suggested several times that they get up and go for a bike ride, walk to the library, make something. “Yep! We will!” One of them did juggle tennis balls for about 3 minutes. And then went back to his computer game.
But they hadn’t moved for at least two hours when I found them glazed over, listless, and sludgy from way too much time curled fetally over their laptops. Shoulders drooped kneeward, faces oily and pasty, eye contact brief and twitchy.
I watched them try to disengage from their screens a couple of times, as if they knew I was in the room and they were trying to locate me, but their eyes and hands and attention returned magnetically to their laptops.
My two big, strong, bright, energetic, ebullient boys who love to swim and read and laugh and draw and play basketball looked utterly lost and depressed. They looked ill. If I hadn’t known they had just been over-screened, I would have had the thermometer out, looking for signs of fever and infection. Or zombie apocalypse.
A wave of emotional nausea washed over me, and I considered dropping to the floor for a nice, long, avoidant nap. I really hate to see them looking so diminished and controlled. So addicted and miserable. Yep, it’s possible that all this gaming has some benefits, yes, this might be the world they are going to live in as adults, but their bodies and spirits exuded suffering.
I’m pretty sure I had to shout to get them to hear me, “Okay, guys, stand up and move your computers out of the way.”
“We’re going to do some yoga.”
We jumped right in. Some deep breathing, lifting and lowering arms. Half moon bends. A baby back bend. Rag doll pose and then some hip-shimmying and a deep forward bend.
When they stood back up into another mountain pose, they both sighed, shoulders melting away from ears and a flash of life sparkling once again in their eyes.
It felt like we needed to get even more blood pumping, so I sent them outside, barefoot, onto wet grass and had them run an obstacle course.
When they came back in, now smiling and pink-cheeked, we did a few warrior poses and some balancing poses. A sun salutation. We got on our bellies for cobras, locusts, a gentle bow pose. Then I had them lay on their backs and close their eyes and I swung their legs in the air and gave them each a long shoulder press.
When I asked them how they felt, they both said, “Great.” One guy got up right away for some more juggling outside where the grass had felt so wonderful on his feet. The other stayed on the ground with his eyes closed.
After he got up and downed a post-yoga root beer (a kale smoothie would have been waaaaaaay too much magic to ask for in one day, I guess), one boy came and found me in my room and said, and I quote, “Thanks for doing that, Mom. I really love you.” Swoon!
And that leads us to Yoga Magic Part 2: This stuff really works.
How? I’m not completely sure, although researchers are working on that question as I type this, and practitioners have known it experientially for millennia. We know it has something to do with the fact that moving your body changes the way you see the world. It has something to do with blood flow and feeding your brain and your heart and the nervous system that runs all the way through your body. It has to do with oxygen and focusing the mind and purposeful movement.
Maybe someday the boys will tell me that it’s just way too weird that I insist that they do sun salutations between “lives” when they’re computer battling or tree poses when we’re getting crabby about waiting in line for too long. But they do it. And they feel better. And the simple and powerful fact that yoga does work is magic enough for me.