If you’ve read my bio, you saw that I once lived in an Ashram for six years. The Guru Ram Das Ashram in Toronto to be exact. It had 16-18 seekers living in one very large house/yoga centre, with more seekers visiting for classes and events every day.
The Ashram was an environment where social and emotional learning opportunities were everywhere, some very beautiful and some not easy.
Living with that many people in a place of spiritual setting, you aspire to be kind and compassionate, but of course there are times when you fall short. Feelings get hurt, toes get stepped on.
After one particularly difficult interaction with another resident, I sought advice from a mentor and senior teacher about moving out and how nice it would be to have my own place. He told me this story:
“They say that if you want to cook your dinner faster, don’t put one potato in a pot to boil, put a bunch of potatoes in the pot. When the potatoes cook together they bump against each other, which helps to soften them up. They cook faster together.”
Then he went on to explain how people are encouraged to do spiritual work together.
Having a spiritual community is challenging but speeds your growth, much like the potatoes getting cooked faster.
How Can a Yogi Grow Spiritually?
It is easy to read spiritual principles and philosophy on your own, but the concepts are more deeply understood when they are put to the test with other people.
In an environment like the Ashram, we emotionally bumped against each other as we worked through our stuff. However we were committed to, and supported by the yoga and meditation practices that brought us there.
Spiritual teachings enhanced our social and emotional growth.
AND social emotional learning catapulted our spiritual growth!
Does Social Emotional Learning Enhance Spiritual Growth?
So when I did my last business planning session, I looked long and hard at the direction for my business. Everything seems to be going online, but was this the right focus for Young Yoga Masters training? Participants receive over 600 pages of printed manuals when they take the 95 Hour Kids Yoga Teacher Training with Young Yoga Masters. It would be possible to turn this material into online courses. Was this the right direction for the training right now?
After much thought, I chose to focus on building community through live training. I want to pour my energy into powerful, community centered learning opportunities for kids yoga teachers. I love being with aspiring teachers who care about Kids Yoga the way I do. I like that we spend time together in a social environment that nurtures growth and community.
Social Emotional Learning 2.0
I feel my penchant for in-person training has helped me understand Social Emotional Learning (SEL) more deeply.
SEL is needed because as our time spent on screens goes up, our time spent in community goes down.
Social and Emotional Learning needs to happen in a social environment. Live events, meeting cool people, getting challenged by others, puts you in the best position to grow.
Just like how in kids yoga, the games are as much social and emotional as they are physical.
Learning, live and in person, gives you a depth of training that printed and online training can’t match. You engage with mentors, you get exposed to various teaching methodologies, you get to ask questions, and you get asked questions.
During the practicum you interact socially and emotionally with actual children. You learn what works and what to do when things don’t go as planned.
Social Emotional Learning with a Yoga Twist
And perhaps most important, in the case of our Kids Yoga Teacher Training, all of this is supported by the wisdom of yoga and meditation.
You learn about kids yoga and you learn about yourself as a social and emotional being.
You get professional growth and personal growth.
Training with others is a social and emotional learning experience that enhances your growth as a yogi.
I’m always super excited before a training weekend or 12 day intensive because it’s a return to the joy and the challenges I felt living in the ashram, the joy and challenges of spiritual community.
My aim is to create this opportunity with each community that forms in our training.
There will be times when you are challenged because you have left your comfort zone. However, this challenge may give you the best opportunity for spiritual growth. This may be the fastest way to grow as a kids yoga teacher and a yogi.
Social and emotional learning is an essential part of every kids yoga teachers journey.