Recently I attended Kid’s Yoga Teacher Training at Asheville Yoga Center in Asheville, North Carolina. A lot of topics were discussed over the course of the training, but one topic that continued to make an appearance in our conversations was about the pressure that children feel from being ever connected to the world of social media, how they believe they must respond immediately when their phone buzzes, and how as a whole, they spend most of their daylight hours in front of a screen and less and less time outdoors. JaneAnne Tager, led the discussions and emphasized the importance of using nature themes in our classes as a way for children to disconnect, leave technology at the door, and become more grounded using tools found in mother nature.
We began the four day training in typical fashion with an ice breaker activity, going around the room making introductions. But after stating our name and where we were from, the information we were asked to share was a bit more atypical. We were asked to recount a “memorable time in nature” and then state one word to describe the event.
As a side note: I struggle with any activity where I feel pressure to speak in front of a large group of people. When I’ve never met the people, the stress is even greater. I often spend the entire time trying to think of something clever to say for the inevitable moment when the baton will be passed to me, which leaves me unable to listen to what is being said by the other participants. And while this activity was no different in terms of what it was trying to accomplish, this time I knew immediately and without hesitation what “memorable event in nature” I would be able to share with the group.
People described canoeing on lazy rivers, hiking in exotic places, the delicious reward of mushroom hunting, experiencing a herd of migrating caribou in the Alaskan wilderness and climbing Half-Dome. They used words like: calm, majestic, humble, and serene to illustrate their experiences.
When it was my turn, I recalled an event from my childhood. I was eight years old when my grandparents took me with them on their annual fishing trip to Canada.
One afternoon, midway through the week, we were out on the river in our small, fiberglass boat. Without warning, the skies turned black as storm clouds rolled in. Lightening began to crackle and flash and rain poured down on us filling the boat. My grandfather worked furiously to start the engine, but received nothing but silence for his efforts.
On board, he had an oar…not a paddle, an oar—for a row boat. But since we were not in a row boat, he used the oar to paddle the boat like a canoe. Only we weren’t in a canoe. We were in a boat much wider than a canoe. So he had to stand. He paddled furiously on one side and then switched to the other side, making progress in inches.
We were not close to shore. His hysterical wife frantically bailed water from the boat using an old coffee can, that had once held the worms all while his grand-daughter sobbed. And somehow, paddling, paddling, paddling he managed to get us safely to shore.
We were back out on the river the next day, probably with another $2 worth of gas in the tank.
Nature and me—me and nature. We have a tenuous relationship at best.
My name is FAWN and my word is FEAR.
At the beginning of the training, JaneAnne stated that one of the goals of the weekend was to help us become reacquainted with our inner child. With each exercise, I found myself being transported back to my childhood, a time in my life that was filled with happy memories, uncomplicated and innocent. While this was not intentional, I also do not think it was a coincidence. I finished the training feeling more grounded than I have in several months and freshly inspired to be the best mom, wife, and yoga teacher I can be, to make a difference in the lives of children who may not have as happy a childhood as me, and to write. This is the first blog post of a three-part series.