I am proud to say that Dr. John A. Provost is our superintendent. He asked the above question in a letter sent to all Northampton Public School employees, welcoming us to the new school year last August. I was so struck by the depth and importance of this question that I wrote it up on a piece of paper, filled it with color, and hung it in my home yoga studio. Now a mantra for me, it guides me daily in my work with children. It is a question that, even after an entire year of quiet asking, still takes my breath away.
Dr. Provost also wrote in his letter about the “social emotional gap” and the need to “work to develop students who are not only smart but also resilient and empathetic”. Karuna in Sanskrit means compassion and anyone who has held Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Dog, for any length of time knows the importance of resilience. Our practice of yoga at Karuna begins with a happy engagement in every pose. It continues by being sensitive to the beauty of our mind, body, and breath connections. It moves us towards virtue. As one’s practice deepens, it profoundly changes the way a person feels and helps them to thrive in the challenge of life. This is true for anyone who practices yoga in a mindful way, no matter their age.
Many students struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and even trauma. It is my job, as a Tiered Support Specialist, to give these children the special support they need to be successful in our public schools. The nectar of my yoga practice nourishes my ability to be strong and patient. I sow seeds of strength and plant pods of patience in my students through mindful activities, precise movements, and specific breathing techniques. I believe that yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in our schools can help our students to blossom as happy, socially engaged students who are more sensitive to beauty and more capable of virtue.
Please join me in our quest to make yoga more accessible to children and to the people who care for them at email@example.com
Rebeca Allessi is a graduate of the 200-hour Karuna Yoga Teacher Training Program and is certified by Yoga Ed to teach yoga in the schools, grades K – 8. She is currently a Tiered Support Specialist at Jackson Street School and Bridge Street School here in Northampton. She is also enrolled in Eileen’s 300-hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Loft in Albany. She has been a public school classroom teacher for over 20 years and has been taught the importance of truth and kindness by her hundreds of students. Rebeca is drawn to the Karuna community as a place where she can find inner peace and meaningful growth. She is dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the Eight Limb Path of yoga to people of all ages and abilities.