Fresh Start / by Julie Anne Caramanico

In the last few months, I’ve been taking a step back from teaching yoga classes. I returned to full-time work and have been adjusting to that. In that time I’ve also been contemplating how I want to teach yoga. I started teaching because I wanted to use it to help kids with autism. This is something I’ve accomplished and I love teaching yoga for autism events at various centers in Philly. While working towards that goal I also fell in love with teaching vinyasa classes. I’ve loved teaching students at the various venues I’ve been blessed to teach in - and have seen just how important it is to bring this practice to as many people as I can. I believe that yoga - specifically learning to breathe and be present - is vital to our lives. But I’ve also seen that attending yoga classes can be a real struggle for the everyday person.

In my work in research at UPenn, I travel to many School District of Philadelphia schools. I go into classrooms and meet students and teachers. I learn how that classroom is currently operating and help the teachers determine how to implement research-based practices in the real, wild world of an urban under-resourced school. I train them with what we call internal capacity - the ability to implement a practice so that they can do it for themselves. The tool is evidence-based practice (or ABA strategies), the setting is the classroom, and the goal is progress in language and social skills. In this capacity, I’m able to bring the tool to the people and teach it to them when and where they need it most. How does this apply to yoga? 

When I teach yoga, my students struggle to implement yoga practices in their lives very similarly to how teachers struggle to implement teaching strategies. Here - the tool is yoga, the setting is your life, and the goal is well-being. How do we make yoga work for the everyday person in their real, wild life? How can yoga help everyone - especially those who can’t spare the time or funds to get to class? How do I give you the internal capacity to practice these tools so you can make the miracles happen on your own? How are teachers bringing yoga to people in real and sustainable ways? What is my part in all of that? These are the questions I’ve been asking myself for the last year. I don’t know the answers yet. I’ll be learning as I go and I’ll share my offerings with you here. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you - do you want to make yoga part of your life but struggle with following through? What gets in the way? Leave a comment below.