West Jordan Middle School Shines Light on Centered City Yoga

West Jordan Middle School Shines Light on Centered City Yoga
I believe in creating a bright future for our children. With all of my heart. A couple of months ago one of our Centered City Yoga incredible yoga and Qi Gong teachers, Olin Leavitt (Oli), reached out to me asking if I would mind a conference call the next day with he and Dixie Garrison, the principal of West Jordan Middle School. “Of course!” I said, wondering what they wanted to ask me about. The next day I went from curious, to completely excited when I was asked to host 20 students from their school, of which Oli is the psychologist, for a very special field trip in celebration of their learning yoga, meditation, Qi Gong, and other mindful techniques through the school year.

Students Arriving From West Jordan Middle School! Looking from the inside, out.

PC: Dixie Garrison. Students have arrived!

I am delighted to say they came yesterday and spent a very cherished two-hours at Centered City Yoga! It was thrilling to see them all playfully find their way to the studio; I couldn’t help but take a photo from the inside, looking out, while at the same time they were taking photos outside.

Quiet and polite. Respect and kindness from each and all

Upon entering the studio, I met some of the most respectful, kindhearted middle school kids I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. They quietly removed their shoes and tip-toed down the stairs to begin their studio experience in our Earth studio. Each of our three studios has a very special energy. The Earth studio feels like an old school yoga shala. Darker and semi-cool. It is a space that allows the outer world to completely let go of our hearts, while we turn inward deep within ourselves and our practice.

Earth Studio

We began with short introductions. Myself and a sweet warmhearted Ashtanga teacher from our studio, Lauren Holman, talked a bit about how we began to practice yoga, and what it means to us, and how the practice guides our lives. Then we all were led by Oli through a short and delightful Qi Gong session, and into a peaceful guided meditation.

Oli leading Qi Gong. The principal, and other adults practiced right along with the kids!

CCY teacher, Lauren Holman practicing Qi Gong in Earth studio with the youth

Refreshed from the quiet, we then went upstairs to experience the Heart studio on the street level. This studio has no outside windows, but a bit of light comes in through the frosted doors, and stairways. It is more like a veil to the outside, while still allowing a very deep and relaxing quiet to lead our hearts. Here, Lauren taught us some Ashtanga, which is also my daily practice! What fun we had twisting into postures rarely taught outside of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system.

Lauren Holman leading Ashtanga Yoga in Heart studio

Ashtanga Yoga with Lauren Holman, Oli assisting

We had few extra minutes while waiting for a class to finish in our upstairs studio. Oli asked me to give an Ashtanga demonstration. Yikes! The yoga teacher who gets nervous to share her practice. Haha! I tried not to show my nerves (or how not warmed up I was!) yet with trust, I breathed my body into motion demonstrating a few more common poses from the standing and Primary series. I then showed the students a taste of the Intermediate series with Tittibhasana, or firefly pose, all four of the series’ expressions. And then Vatayanasana, or air vehicle pose. How fun! Afterwards the kids played around trying to mimic what they saw. Love! I hope they all keep going with their practice.

Rachel Cieslewicz demonstrating Tittibhasana, meaning “little firefly.” PC: Dixie Garrison

Rachel Cieslewicz demonstratingTittibhasana, meaning “little firefly.” PC: Dixie Garrison

When it was time to go upstairs the students were greeted and blessed by the Crown studio. The Crown studio is the Sun of Centered City Yoga. It is where the outside meets in inside in perfect ying-yang balance. The studio is filled by day with natural light, and a cherished full wall of windows looking out into the vibrant 9th and 9th district. This studio meets each student with exactly what they need from a strong power class, to a restful yin practice.

West Jordan Middle school kids practicing yoga in Crown Studio at Centered City Yoga. PC: Dixie Garrison

Savasana in Crown studio, Centered City Yoga.

Savasana in Crown Studio. PC: Dixie Garrison

Peace begins with each soul. PC: Dixie Garrison

For this last part of our time together I took the students through a few restorative asana, and assisted them in settling into a relaxing Savasana to celebrate the closure of our time together. And as I always love to do, I played one of my crystal singing bowls. When Savasana was finished, we sent a message of love out to our communities, and beyond of peace, happiness and freedom.

I love to play my crystal singing bowls for my students! PC: Dixie Garrison

Saying goodbye, I was filled with gratitude for the experience to teach these incredible youth. I have long believed that weaving mindfulness teachings into our school systems would be a viable way to create a kind and cohesive environment within our schools. West Jordan Middle School is a pinnacle example of the benefits of bringing mindful programs into schools as a way to feel community, learn to resolve stress, and most important, help these kids understand their deep value as a human being.

The completion of our amazing time together! PC: Lauren Holman

I thank Dixie and Oli and their amazing West Jordan Middle School yogis again for blessing my day in such an inspiring way. Indeed, with leaders such as Oli and Dixie, our children do have a bright future on the horizon. And for now, they are practicing each day to be strong, peaceful and positive impacts on our communities!