Imagine That

Armed with puppets and props, I entered the private preschool in an upscale New York City

neighborhood in 2005, ready to introduce a group of preschoolers to yoga. How tough could it be? I’m

no pushover. I’d been an elementary school teacher in the Bronx. When a thief snatched my handbag one

day, I won the tug of war. So, presented with the opportunity to teach yoga to humans who didn’t even

reach my bellybutton, I was fearless. This would be child’s play.

The munchkins greeted me with hugs. They tipped the cuteness meter at first. I soon discovered that

keeping their attention for longer than it takes to say Namaste took serious effort. To begin

our first class, I gave them flowers. Everyone was to smell a flower—my stealthy way of getting

them to breathe deeply—and then say Om. But Giselle wanted Sara’s pink flower. Joshua hit Grace

with his purple flower. A brawl broke out. Pandemonium ensued.

Future classes were calmer. But when the kids wiggled and giggled, I’d panic, scramble to herd

them, then attempt to dazzle them. “Hey, wanna play a yoga game?” I was an entertainer who couldn’t

get them to focus. I felt like a chump. Six classes in, I was giving up. Then, during my meditation

one day, I thought maybe I could use my breath to help. It worked.

We imagined a “car trip” to the desert. The kids sat in Dandasana (Staff Pose), steering their vehicles to poses

we called lizard on a rock, snake, and camel. Little Henry exclaimed, “We’re out of gas!” We laughed.

Rather than trying to exert control, I became present. I smiled and breathed. I was calm; they were

calm. After that, we would “fill ‘er up” before every trip. Class became enriched by their

imaginations. And I didn’t hyperventilate.