Adventures in yoga teaching: Kids and spinal injuries. Or Days 4 and 5, Nepal

Ok so yeah Dal Bhat = delicious but after two days of it as both breakfast and dinner you do start to struggle (or if you’re me, involuntarily begin to regurgitate like a child encountering vegetables they dislike). I keep also making the mistake of allowing Mami to fill my plate, so I have no one to blame but myself. I finally awoke at some sort of reasonable hour, and Renu and Luna popped into my room for some yoga, punctuated by fits of giggles during certain poses, language uncertainties and valiant attempts at poses they were unsure of. The took it seriously though, and enthusiastically copied every movement, and looked forward to meditation at the end – Model students! After this it was time to get ready for school and off we went on le bounce bus, back along roads that had melted away under monsoon rains. It takes maybe 45 mins to get in and arrive for assembly.

The teacher I was with the first day was out this day and I taught with another woman. She told me she had been studying IT but doing her masters in business as there was no IT masters programmes in Nepal, and that she had been teaching for 5 months. This time, I lead the classes, and overall it went much better. The kids definitely have trouble understanding me however, so it is good to have someone to help with translation. At break I talked about my project idea and everyone thought it would be great so we are starting on Monday (the weekend is normally one day here but there is a festival on Sunday. Nepal literally celebrates everything). Kamal, a former VSN kid, walked me to the bus which was early, so we just missed it.

The home was quiet when I eventually got in so I decided to take advantage of the time to myself before everyone started to arrive home and start planning my project out a little better. When in doubt, become a Seanachaí right? Whilst I planned, Raju Dai showed me his very impressive dancing skills, which resulted in a dance lesson that transformed into a martial arts lesson.

Dance/karate instructor extraordinaire, Raju Dai.

The next morning Renu and Luna woke me up early (06.30) so that we could practice yoga. At first it was just we three in the common room, but soon one of the boys joined us, and so did Auntie! “Auntie” is a term used for anyone who is a respected elder that is not your Mami – there are “Uncles” too. I am still young enough to be called “Sister” rather than “Auntie” or “DiDi”. Anyway, Auntie is Hari’s mother (Hari being the house manager). Ten years ago she fell off a ladder and broke her spine, leaving her paralysed. She is recovering from spinal surgery, where they gave her metal rods and like a miracle, she can walk again! All of this was conveyed the evening before through very broken Nepalese and English between her, myself and Raju. Auntie joined the very end of the class and I must say I was pretty nervous to teach someone recuperating from such a severe injury. I kept it easy, some forward folds and gentle twists like ardha matsyendrasana as well as final meditation. She kicked butt though, despite language barriers.

Auntie, me, Cheeky Cheena and Sunita


Dal Bhat time again. My god I really struggled today I took waaaay too much rice and towards the end felt I might throw up and or be a diabetic from over consumption of white rice. Once you’ve touched the food, it’s not clean so can’t be put back, and really you should aim to finish everything you’ve taken, it’s somewhat frowned upon to leave food on your plate. I am officially on local water, the tap water here is filtered so should be fine, I also have water purification tablets to keep tummy bugs at bay. At this point though, I am so loaded with rice that might be a small blessing.

Today being a weekend day, a small group of the older boys took me along to the library, so I could read and use the internet if I wanted (“Sister, do you want to go to the library? It has books, and internet, it’s very good fun!” – an excuse if ever I heard one!). It was about a twenty minute walk from the home in the scorching sun, to find it closed! However the internet was still usable, so a bunch of us sat outside and took advantage. When we arrived I played some card games with the kids, one that involves trying to get four of a kind in your hand, then you touch her hand to your nose and the last one to do it gets slapped by everyone else. I was given out to for not slapping hard enough. Jesus. I mucked in at kajaa time, with (younger) Hari, Luna and Mammy and made a spicy spicy chow mein.

The local library


As the evening rolled on, suddenly my yoga services were DEMANDED in the living room. The boys wanted to partake, so this time I had a room full of teens wanting to practice. Auntie got wind and drifted back in for more too! Unfortunately this made things a little tricky, it was clear the kids really wanted to do something more physical, and being kids weren’t really understanding that Auntie shouldn’t be going for all of the poses – not translating when she needed to back off and instead saying NOOOOO AUNTIE, LIKE THIS! I quickly changed tactics, and the class became full of variations, modifications and many many seated poses. Because the energy in the room was so high (and because everyone kept talking through meditation) we did some continuous Oms… the noise we made was incredible. This was followed by three Shantis, and 8 rounds of Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanthu just as the Dal Bhat bell rang…




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