Yoga with Nevada County’s Troubled Youth


I have been teaching yoga to the residents at Carly F Bryan Juvenile Hall for going on 2 years.  I used to work with both boys and girls but a volunteer took over with the girls so now I just teach boys.  I was actually a little relieved; the girls were a real challenge.  They had very little focus, gave up easily, ragged on themselves and each other.  I had to redirect them every few minutes.  Not to say that the boys are easy but I found that usually the boy highest in the pecking order was athletic, alert, competitive and if he wanted to practice the others would usually follow.  I had a great kid come to class for months and each week he would inch forward  a little and notice it. I wish I had been keeping a blog at the time and written down more of our conversations.  But he ushered enough of the other boys into the class that it became a thing.  

The week before last, one of the boys yanked a mat out from another boy’s knee, coming dangerously close to tearing his groin muscle.  This past week, one of them had horrible gas and they wouldn’t stop talking.  I was thinking about it and I decided that since I have an hour and a half with them, I could actually dedicate the first 15 minutes to a discussion.  Then I ask them to be silent for the next 50 minutes.  The music pumps them up but they seem to want to talk more, everything gets louder.  

So what verbage will I use?  

-move with precision

-listen to your breathing

-go into yourself, have a deep conversation with you body, 

-use martial arts as an example, they eat that up.  Focus, awareness of the body in space.  Stilling the monkey-mind.

-eliminate the language

-human potential,  “Pranayama” Lifeforce.  What does it mean? 

-what does a balanced life mean?

I wish I could say to them, look the world is ugly.  There is treachery beyond what your brain can imagine, even in it’s worst nightmares.  Life comes with it’s own obstacles, a certain amount of suffering.  But humans also like to invent pain, for themselves and for others.  As the planet shrinks and the population supernovas, there will be more man made miracles, more selfless acts of heroism but there will also be more horror.  You have to have your sword and by that I mean you have to sharpen your skills, and prime your tools.  You need to be as clear and steady as you can.  

This is why I practice, because it protects my sanity in a truly fucking insane world.  

I guess I can say some of that, but I’m guessing the establishment wouldn’t dig that level of honesty, or the expletive.  

I wish I could live it the way that I talk about it, the way that I dream about it.  I believe that I can but my tiny choices every day hardly add up to the conscious life I wish I had.  I know better.  I want to be a better mirror for my daughter and for these boys.  

I’ll let you know how that goes.




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