I recently completed the Teacher Training course Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to Teens with Veronika at Special Yoga Centre, Kensal Rise, and found it to be a very rewarding and inclusive experience.
I work with young people aged 13-25 as a Connexions Careers Adviser and so I was really excited to be able to learn how to adapt my teaching practice for this age group. I learnt so much from Veronika and my peers and the course was very useful. I was also welcomed by SYC to use an empty studio for prayers, which I did, and was so grateful for that. It made me feel that my beliefs as a Muslim mattered, even though I was the only Muslim on the Teacher Training course.
The part of the course that surprised me as well was the section on teaching yoga to Muslim girls who wear the headscarf (i.e. hijab) and how to tackle obstacles related to this. I contributed quite a lot here and I was heartened by the warm reception I got and genuine interest.
Veronika made us think about how to teach yoga to teens in a secular way, since this was the ethos of the course. Elements of this resonated with me in particular since I teach Well Woman Yoga in Ilford to an all-Muslim group. We don’t chant or refer to very much of yoga philosophy, however it’s still a mindful and spiritual class in other ways.
I myself use conscious breathing in my five daily prayers corresponding to the movements; inhaling when I straighten up the spine, an exhaling when I bend forwards.I started this practice when I was a trainee yoga teacher in 2011 and have continued it till the present. I find it helps me to calm down, be present and mindful in my daily prayers so well. I can’t imagine how I used to pray before!
I would like to share this practice with my Muslim students in the near future. In this and many other ways, yoga is halal, i.e. permissible, for Muslims since it has so many benefits that can complement their faith without taking anything away from it or diluting their beliefs. It all comes from the perspective and intention, niyyah, of the one practising yoga. If a Muslim purifies their intention, then most aspects of yoga can be halal as I have found.
Zarah Awaleh is a RYT 200 hour registered Yoga Teacher with a diploma in Well Woman Yoga and Teen Yoga & Mindfulness. She is offering a monthly Well Woman Yoga class on Saturday in Kilburn (info below).