Yoga with Traumatized Teenage Girls

For a moment the staff walked out of the room, which is not supposed to happen. Instantly one of the girls, we’ll call her Kayla for HIPAA reasons, begins to threaten the other girl, who we’ll call Candice. Both girls are slightly overweight, loud as all hell, and have the most unexpected social reactions. Candice laughs as Kayla threatens to throw one of the new blocks I brought. It’s bright green and ordered off Amazon by my mom. She wanted to give something to the girls.

I give her a muttered “C’mon, that’s not the yoga way”. I really don’t want to have to deal with this, it’s a large piece of the reason I quit my full time job here two years ago. Kayla blatantly ignores me and gets more heated, more aggressive, and starts to posture (which for those of you who haven’t been in the nitty gritty of society, is moving like she’s going to throw the bright green block). Now I’m pissed. And nervous. And the god damn staff still isn’t back.

So I very clearly, and very loudly inform Kayla that if she doesn’t cut it out, then she can get out of the room and that if she thinks I won’t help her she’s dead wrong. I’ve dealt with this crap a thousand times before, I have no problem dealing with it now. Kayla, thankfully, shuts up and instantly changes her demeanor. She puts the block down and begins to tell me about how she got a balanced bracelet and maybe she’ll do some of the yoga. Candice goes to quietly sit on her mat for a second before joining the conversation loudly, but pleasantly, again.

As the class goes on I have one girl who sits on her mat and reads, when she isn’t yelling at the male staff in a way that is slightly creepy. Another one does the yoga (Kayla, in case you’re wondering, she is strangely enough my most dedicated student) but she keeps screaming at the people in the room when they start joking around. The last girl did cheer leading for ten years, and she pretty much just came down here to show off and so I want to kick her. My two staff are both males, and they’re amazing. They joke with the girls enough to keep them interested in the class and somehow maintain focus to do the yoga.

When the class winds down there’s still laughter. Necks are craning around asking me if they’re doing the pose right. Two of the girls don’t participate, one gets up and goes to walk back up to the unit but I cajole her into a pathetic shavasana. One of the staff keeps his eyes wide open, fingers twitching. I squat on my heels, feeling a corrupting awareness on me, even from the people that are lying down. I watch them all. For a flicker of a moment the sun shines gentle, the music stops, the fountain outside splashes. My shoulders drop with an exhale, I know it’s as close as we’ll get today. Their bodies rocket out of the relaxation pose and they’re out of the room before I can say namaste.


Still, I admit to myself as I pack the bright blocks up, they did do yoga.




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