na·ma·ste [nuhm-uh-stey] –noun a conventional Hindu expression on meeting or parting, used by the speaker usually while holding the palms together vertically in front of the bosom. Commonly interpreted as “the light in me honors the light in you.”

Ever had a day or even a single moment when you knew you were exactly where you were meant to be? I’m a firm believer that we are always where we are meant to be, but that doesn’t mean it always feels that way. I was recently blessed with that feeling for three days in a row!

Last week I had the pleasure of teaching yoga to some amazing middle and high school students at The Lab. The Lab is an Arts & Wellness-based special education program of St. Paul Public Schools serving students (grades 7-12) who have emotional behavioral disorders (EBD). Through mentorships and group experiences, students at The Lab engage in arts and wellness activities that help them develop social skills, healthy strategies to manage emotions, and discover new and creative ways to express themselves–all of which are integral to school success.

Since I started practicing, yoga has been an incredible gift to me in terms of finding calm within myself, learning to accept and appreciate my body, and developing strength and flexibility (physical and mental). There is no question that yoga has improved my life off the mat. My one and only regret is that I didn’t come to yoga sooner.

I am passionate about sharing the gift of yoga with others, especially young people. If yoga can help even one young person develop his/her inner strength, flexibility and focus–and thus, feel better about him/herself–my efforts will be a success. More than one, and I will have contributed to making the world a more peaceful place.

Big thinking, I know. But when people are at peace with themselves, big things happen.

Although many of the students at The Lab–okay, most of them and even some of the teachers–were skeptical at first, almost every single student (and teacher) gave yoga their best effort. And, by the end of our third class together, quite a few of them told me they would like to practice yoga regularly. Success!

I am so grateful to The Lab’s founder Mary Tinucci and to my pal Anne McInerney who works as a social worker with St. Paul Public Schools for the opportunity to work with students from The Lab. A yoga practitioner herself, Mary was open to my ideas about sharing yoga with students and graciously made time in her own schedule and the students’ schedules to make it happen. A dear friend of mine since high school, Anne has been incredibly kind and supportive of me through the years and was willing to connect me to Mary and The Lab. They both rock!

I am especially grateful to the students at The Lab for sharing their time with me, for being open to what I have to share, and for continuing to be open to new ideas and activities. Although I was there to share with them, they shared so much of themselves with me.

Be well. Namaste.

The Lab provides student services via several modalities, including Spoken Word Poetry, Technology, Visual Arts, Experiential Wellness, Leadership, Performing Arts, and Recording Arts, and is open to volunteers. For more information about The Lab and volunteer opportunities, visit http://www.thelabspps.com.

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