Their faces, their eyes, their voices are embedded deeply into my being. They are what drives me to find the best of the practices. They are what teach me how to personify patience, kindness, and compassion.
It was said by an aged yogi; “to understand one must stand under.”
Each one, each life, each child has a story. They are an I. They are a complete and individual human being. In their essence, they inhabit a body. In inhabiting a body, they take up space. Those are immense realities. I want them to learn how to take up space, how to inhabit their own body, how to possess their own voice!
I do not come with presumption. I leave often being taught more than I teach. I allow myself to engage and be impacted. I am changed, as much as I change. My heart is determined to be changed. I change how I see, then I watch how I change. I stand under as to understand. I am wise. I am learned. I am compassionate. They are wise. They are learned. They are compassionate. We step into space together. Their personhood and mine engage with movement and mindful practices. Healing and strength come.
Here are their stories, their parent’s stories.I took my son Liam to a session with Mims Driscoll. My son Liam is eleven years old and on the Autism spectrum. He has a hard time focusing and has some sensory issues. I was was nervous about this session because this was a very new experience for him. He paces a lot, so I wasn't sure if he would sit still long enough for an hour long yoga session. Not to mention he is an eleven year old boy and I was taking him away from his Saturday morning Lego time! I never know what he is going to say or how he will respond, which added to my anxiety before our session. Well, he loved it! Mims did a wonderful job explaining the poses and making it a relaxing experience for both of us. She was patient and spoke directly to Liam, I could tell that he was very serious about following her instructions. He has even asked to go back!
I took my son Liam to a session with Mims Driscoll. My son Liam is eleven years old and on the Autism spectrum. He has a hard time focusing and has some sensory issues. I was nervous about this session because this was a very new experience for him. He paces a lot, so I wasn't sure if he would sit still long enough for an hour long yoga session. Not to mention he is an eleven year old boy and I was taking him away from his Saturday morning Lego time! I never know what he is going to say or how he will respond, which added to my anxiety before our session. Well, he loved it! Mims did a wonderful job explaining the poses and making it a relaxing experience for both of us. She was patient and spoke directly to Liam, I could tell that he was very serious about following her instructions. He has even asked to go back! ~V.K. (February 2017)
I didn’t tell my child’s therapist we were doing yoga. I wanted to see if she would notice the differences I was already seeing after three sessions with Mims. Then as we were leaving therapy, the therapist asked to talk to me for a minute. I’ll never forget the question posed to me. “Something has opened for her,” the therapist said. Then I blurted out, “I’m doing yoga with her with a woman who knows trauma informed yoga.” The therapist just smiled and told me to keep it up. Oh, don’t worry. We are. We are… This isn’t just yoga. This has changed the life of my child. Mims works wonders. She is attentive. I love when she says, “we stand under as to understand.” It makes so much sense what she says, it is like common sense. Except it isn’t. ~E.M. (January 2017)
I was amazed by how my 7-year-old daughter with ASD responded during her first yoga session with Mims. My very sedentary and anxious child had fun and tried new things thanks to the gentle, supportive environment that Mims created. Mims responded perfectly to my daughter’s anxiety and emotions during the session—she really has a gift. I knew my daughter had a good experience when she gave Mims a big hug before we left—this girl of mine does not give out hugs very often or to just anyone! My Daughter also asked if she could have more yoga classes with Mims. My answer: YES! ~ V.B. (Summer 2016 )
It was a new school. There was a group of kids. It would be their first time doing yoga. Resting pose is placed at the end of the practice. It is the hardest pose known to yoga for typical populations. It asks of the body, breath, heart, and mind to find stillness. Laying upon the back body, allowing the breath to have its own natural rhythm, asking the participant to still the heart and mind, thoughts and emotions. That is resting pose. I watch. I invite. I allow them to be on their side body, front body, sitting; all the while watching to see if and when they will go to their back body and lay down. There are moments. It feels like the whole room settles. Some days we get there, other days we don’t. This day we would. After the class was over, mats were rolled up and put away; I felt a tug upon my sleeve. It would be a tug upon my heart. A little boy was standing there, “It is never that quiet in my house. Can we do it again?” A child was exposed to stillness, silence had touched his life. Like a dried out sponge upon a windowsill, he had had a drop of water. He wanted more. I want to give him more.
Excerpt from AMAZEMENT!
As I have said the three components of children’s yoga that are central to Mangaliso Kids’ Yoga are: Tune in, Resting Pose, Mantra with a shout. This class, the one I am referencing above, we were in the cafeteria instead of the gym. We had sat upon the benches, I taught them how to feel the ground underneath them. Oh, I don’t say that is what we are doing, “Place your feet underneath you, feel the soles of your feet in your shoes, and press down the soles of your shoes upon the ground. Place your hands upon your knees or thighs. Tuck your chin, lift at the crown of the head.”
I watch the children.
I’m looking at the room.
I’m opening myself up to possibility.
This is no longer one ½ hour kids’ yoga class.
These are moments.
These are moments where what gets deposited within their beings is the essence of sense of self. It is their body. It is their breath, they are breathing. It is their awareness, focus, and attention that they are cultivating. It has so little to nothing to do with me, everything to do with them.
I do not view them as lesser citizens. They are full human beings. They are capable. They are strong. They need to be showed where their capacity and strength reside. I want them to see that in the way I actively gaze and look at them. I want to empower them to feel the strength in their own body. I want them to sense the power of breath.
In this class, we would do many things.
Even in a cafeteria, with tables and cold floors, these kids took to savasana. As we emerged from resting pose; allowing rest and stillness to imprint upon their physical bodies, their hearts and minds. We always head into the closing mantra. Two times in a regular voice, two times in a whisper, one time quietly into their heart, and one time as loud as they want the utterance, “I AM AN AMAZEMENT,” passes through their lips.
I wanted to check in with them.
I come in and we just do what we do.
We tune in, we do a variety of practices of movement, meditation, and mindful elements, then we turn to resting pose and emerging from that we close in the Mangaliso Mantra. Day after day, time after time, visit after visit basically the ½ hour stays the same. With some details changing here and there, always the tune in, always resting pose, and always the closing mantra; with creativity and allowance interspersed in between.
But upon this day I paused, I asked them about the shout.
There are moments where I just want to give them the experience. Engage the body, engage the breath, engage their capacity to focus and be aware. Sometimes, we pause. Sometimes, I ask them if they remember what the three components of yoga are: Body, breath, and awareness. Sometimes, I ask them what does yoga mean: to unite or yoke together. Sometimes, I ask them what a word in Sanskrit means.
On this day, I asked them to explain to me why do I let them shout.
I wondered what would their answers would be, after all these “kids” are kindergarten to fifth grade. They are kids, right? Yes, they are young. Youth does not mean unwise or unknowing.
Hands shot up!
Their words, their expressions, their courage always captivates my heart. These moments would be no different. They knew that why I put a shout at the end of every kids’ class, (I would do it at the end of every adult class, it isn’t any less needed. Adults are just so much more self-conscious.) was to give them the opportunity to release stress. One of the boys said, “to release my anger.” YES! Yes, oh very wise one. Yes! We give an intentional shout so that you can gather up all the stress, all the anger, all that you endure throughout the week and let it out!
I have watched some of these kids over the course of almost two years. They know what is coming. They know, and some of them mouth the directions, “two times in a regular voice, two times in a whisper, one time quietly into your heart, and one time as loud as you want.” Do you recognize the most important part? “AS YOU WANT!” It is their choice. It is an option. Some children will place their hands over their ears. Oh, they will still shout. They just cover their ears, too. But as I have watched, I watch their bodies gather and prepare for the shout. It is like everything that they have stored in their bodies, deep down from the tips of their toes to the top of their head, they prepare to let out. My eyes watch them gather it all together, then releasing all that energy not haphazardly. The release is intentional and directed. The utterance, “I am an amazement,” passes through their bodies, through their lips; filling their hearts and ears as it emerges into the air.
Like the piped piper, she walked in. “Hi, everyone. Let’s line up. Time to do yoga. Line up on the lines, feet hips distance apart, roll your shoulders down your back body, tuck your chin, lift at the crown of your head. It is time to do yoga.” They love her. They line up. They stand at attention. Her ability to guide a class of kids is solid. ~ S.L.
I walked in and a fifth-grade boy came up to me. “Are we going to do that hardest yoga pose?” (resting pose = Savasana) My response was affirming. Indeed, of course, we always incorporate that pose into all we do. His reply back, “Great! I have a lot of anger in me. That always helps.” There…. That is it from their own mouths. They get it!
We were at a festival where Mims was working as a spiritual director. We were waiting in line at a food truck. She smiled at me and asked me about my daughter. My daughter has MS and is in a wheelchair. Mims stood there engaging with her, as she told me about what she did. I would seek Mims out later. I wanted to talk to her, I wanted to ask her about what she did; of all the PTs and OTs my daughter has worked with, none of them looked at her like Mims did. I like doing the few things Mims showed me on that day. So does my daughter. ~K.L. (Summer 2016)
I didn't tell my child's therapist we were doing yoga. I wanted to see if she would notice the differences I was already seeing after three sessions with Mims. Then as we were leaving therapy, the therapist asked to talk to me for a minute. I'll never forget the question posed to me. "Something has opened for her," the therapist said. Then I blurted out, I'm doing yoga with her with a woman who knows trauma informed yoga. The therapist just smiled and told me to keep it up. Oh, don't worry. We are. We are.... This isn't just yoga. This has changed the life of my child.
Mims works wonders. She is attentive. I love when she says, "we stand under as to understand." It makes so much sense what she says, it is like common sense. Except it isn't.