Just Like the Big Kids

This ad for yoga insurance always made me giggle.  As a teacher, I can ask about injuries at the beginning of class.  I can use euphemisms like tweaks or strains.  But, the bottom line is that people either tell me what’s going on or they don’t.


Some students are just shy and don’t want the whole room to know or don’t want the teacher to know.  They don’t even want to know about it themselves.

Other students think it’s none of my business because I’m just a yoga teacher.

And, a few have no idea about what’s going on with their own bodies.  “How long have you had scoliosis?” “I have scoliosis!  What’s that?”

For years, I stopped asking.   It seemed pointless.  The first Downward Dog tells me almost everything I need to immediately know about a student’s physical and mental practice.  I can see issues with hamstrings, shoulders, spacial awareness, ego, wrists, core strength, confidence, knees…etc, etc, etc.

Because yoga is a business and studios require it, I started asking about injuries again.  It’s a liability-thing.

The hardest thing to work with is that fine line between curiosity and ego.  I know it well.

When I was a kid at Spring Valley Elementary School, the playground was a real playground.  We climbed sturdy wooden structures, and heavy metal bars and rings.  We flung ourselves in the air on swings with nothing but asphalt or, sometimes, a thin rubber pad below.  Recess was serious, almost Darwinian.

I’d watch the big kids hang upside down from the rings high above our heads and whirl around the metal bars with awe and, admittedly, a little jealousy.  I wanted to do that!

One day, the bar was free.  I ran over, and wrapped my sweater around the bar, like the Big Girls, for padding.  It took a few (maybe more than a few) attempts to get up on the bar--I chose the highest one.  I sat there for a moment trying to figure out if I hold overhand or underhand to spin around.  I tried underhand.

And, landed right on my face.

It hurt but I thought I was ok.  I didn’t know how much blood there was until the teachers panicked.  I put my hand up to my face.  My nose was too sensitive to touch and my grown-up teeth wiggled in place.   My grown-up teeth!!!

After visiting the doctor and dentist, and getting the ok to play.  I went back to bars and asked the Big Girls for help.  Some of them laughed at me.  But, a few helped me out.  Within weeks, I was whirling around the bar with one leg over, with both legs over, with no legs over–just like the big kids!

My curiosity got me to the bar.  But, my ego slammed my face into the thin rubber mat.  Once I found that fine line in between curiosity and ego, I asked for help.  And, I got where I needed to be.

The playground has changed since I was at Spring Valley but that set of bars is still there.  Whenever I walk by, I can’t help but smile and bite my lip with the tooth that I almost lost for good.

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