It is mid-summer and I am reminded of a story about a boy walking along the ocean. As he walked along, he would stoop down, pick up a starfish, and toss it back to the sea.
Another beach visitor, upon seeing this, stopped the boy and asked why he was doing this. There were many, many starfish past the water’s edge. The visitor figured the boy could never return all of them; why would the boy take time to do what appeared to be an impossible task? Why bother? What difference would it make?
The boy straightened up, smiled, pointed to the starfish in his hand, and said, “It makes a difference to him”.
Last summer, one of my evening teen classes had only one attendee. Having a single student in a yoga class can challenge your teaching skills when you have prepared for a larger class. My ideas of group and partner poses went right out the proverbial window with the realization that this student was the only one showing up. But the needs of that student ended up being better served by our one to one lesson. It had a lasting effect on me as an instructor and as a person.
Abandoning most of what was planned became my strategy. I followed her lead and allowed her to take me on her journey. She opened up about how life was affecting her, some unique challenges she was facing, and emotions she was dealing with. We focused on what she wanted to achieve during our time together. She wanted movement and time to talk. She wanted to do her favorite poses. She wanted to talk some more. And at the end of the class, she created a flow sequence from all of the poses we worked on that session, naming it “Water Serenity Flow.” I was so inspired by this that I created a picture representation of the vinyasa to give to her and to share with my other classes.
I learned so much in that hour lesson that its teachings still resonate with me today. Meet the student where they are, not where you want them to be. Listen, be present, be flexible. And make a difference in the life of that one starfish.
Water Serenity Flow
- Talking Turtle
- Bubble Fish
- Lord of the Fishes (right)
- Lord of the Fishes (left)
- Table Top
- Spouting Dolphin
- Waterman (Superman swim)