Calm of a yoga junkie

30th April 2004 at 01:00
Ever in pursuit of the great Holy Grail of teachers - a way of coping with stress - I have started going to a yoga class. It's perfectly timed: just as the stress and aggravation reaches a midweek peak. After my Wednesday night yoga fix I get a great night's sleep and am able to face the great unwashed for the next two days.

I have to admit that at first the chanting gave me uncontrollable giggles and the exercises were totally baffling: more like boy scout knots in human form than a way of keeping fit. But I have become a yoga junkie, needing my fix of peace and relaxation to get me sanely through a school week.

It occurred to me in one class as I attempted a spinal twist that yoga teachers have got it made. After all, a yogi is full of inner calm whereas I am a secondary teacher with innards full of Kalms (another failed attempt at stress relief).

Even though their pupils share some of the characteristics of my hormonally challenged classes, yogis have a different way of looking at things, which keeps them stress free. For example, they don't get angry with students who don't understand instructions, and show endless patience when disentangling the limbs of the confused.

They don't suffer anxiety attacks about becoming the world's most boring teacher (as I do ) when a pupil falls asleep, and positively rejoice at the sounds of snoring that fill the room during relaxation. They actively encourage pupils to let their minds wander and not to concentrate on one thing, while in my class, this lack of effort is usually accompanied by the appearance of a throbbing vein on my forehead.

Unlike me, they don't burst a blood vessel at the onset of communal humming or other repetitive noises; they call it a mantra and join in. They smile beatifically when the class breaks out into synchronised farting as apparently it's good for you, whereas when Year 9 try that in my room I spontaneously combust as I head for the safety and relatively clean air of my store cupboard.

Yoga is based on teachings that have been around for centuries so yogis don't have to change their methods to keep up with the latest fads and fashions. But most impressive of all, they have mastered a skill that most secondary teachers spend all their career trying to perfect: the art of holding a sensible conversation with a group of adults whose heads are firmly wedged up their backsides - known in yoga as the plough, but I prefer to call it the SMT position.

Yes, in my next teaching re-incarnation, I'm definitely coming back as a yogi.

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