Learning to lead and follow are important life skills. Learning to balance leading and following are essential in relationships. (Who hasn’t known a person who negatively affects relationships because of their need to always be in charge or someone so passive, they never take the lead?)
Thus, an essential part of our Yoga Calm classes is to encourage all students to take turns in leading the activities. After all, every student has a gift to share. One may be very good at storytelling; another has a song to share; others excel at drumming or leading the poses. So each student is given the opportunity to share it through leadership. As children find their place in the class, they begin to understand their own gifts and see how the gifts of others benefit the community.
Leading is also an excellent feedback mechanism for the students. When a student leads in a goofy way, the whole class reflects the silliness. For the leader to get the class under control, they must find their own strength and stillness. The class will mirror their inner state.
When leading, students learn to read the class and make decisions based on collective need rather than individual want. For instance, if a student says they want to hold Plank Pose for 100 beats of the drum and there are students in the class who can’t do this, the leader must adjust their needs and desires to those of the group – and make a responsible choice.
We sometimes allow students to make mistakes in leading – so long as they don’t put any students at risk – so they can see the outcome of their choices. For example, one day a boy who got up to lead the breathing exercise was acting very silly. The class got pretty wild, and he asked us how to get it back under control. We reminded him that he knew how to get it under control: he had to find his own strength and stillness, which he did, quickly pulling the class back together. It was a great lesson for him in seeing how the world responds to what we put out – a particularly important lesson for students with ADHD weaknesses!
As students learn to self-regulate and develop compassion for what it means to be a teacher, classroom management becomes easier. The students take more responsibility for “their” class, and they learn important life skills. Experience in leading and following also helps build strong community and promotes greater equality in class.
Our new DVD Kids Teach Yoga: Flying Eagle demonstrates this beautifully. In it, you will see how the process of leading, compliments and sharing individual gifts all come together into a deep and meaningful experience.