Recently, I took myself on an adventure to the Jungle in the South of Thailand to the Thai Child Development Foundation. There I volunteered my time teaching Yoga to Thai locals, Foreign guests at the associated Eco-Logic Guest House, and most importantly to the children at the on-site special needs school. And, what an experience this was!
I learned how important it is to develop methods to overcome barriers such as language, physical disability, mental disability, and sensorial disability. For these children, routine is very important and it was obvious it was going to be difficult to gain their trust right away. I decided to crack out my new singing bowl. My Pranayama Guru, Pandey Ji had explained a particular humming meditation that was very effective for people with autism, so I thought the bowl might resonate closely if I couldn’t teach the method in the short time frame I had. I also knew from my water jumping experiment that the vibrations of this bowl were very strong and it would be interesting for the children without audio function. It was an instant hit. Almost every child was there with their little hands touching the base of the bowl, feeling the vibrations. I let them have a turn with the stick, letting them figure out that the best vibration came from a slow dong and slowly rotating the stick around its edge, rather than fast & frantic hits.
Next came the teaching. Nothing would have prepared me for this. I had been warned that while some of the kids know poses from previous teachers, some will have no attention span and run around doing their own thing, but to just go with it anyway. I instantly felt like I was back in my swimming instructing days and felt that everything was best explained in song, dynamic movement and animal noises. Yes, that’s right. I was crawling around on the ground meowing and mooing through cat cow, hissing through cobra, croaking some form of frog / garland and doing my best to announce in Thai “inhale” and “exhale”. This is a moment of completely surrendering the ego. Normally in my classes, I let everyone fall into my energy field, but here I had to come to meet theirs and do whatever I could to keep their attention. Fortunately in Buddhist culture, they are well rehearsed in meditation and all Thai schools teach meditation as a daily practice, so it wasn’t too hard to bring them to stillness at the end of the classes. My singing bowl again was a big help. Little smiles would form as I came near them and I knew they could feel the healing vibration.
Upstairs at the school, I noticed a steel beam (I have a genuine gift for noticing these things) so I arranged an aerial demonstration for them, which coincided with their last day of the school term. They were oo-ing and ah-ing and applauding before I even touched the silks, and they found it hilarious when I was suddenly upside down and contorted from their ceiling! A couple of guests arrived that day and were begging for an aerial lesson, so I made use of opportunity and donated the funds back to the NGO.
I was really inspired by this foundation and admired the strong roots they have established in the area, so I created a little video of the experience teaching, and also staying at the guest house and sustainable farm.