A Rising Sun

December 25, 2012
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“Come along, Jordan,” I encouraged the rosy-cheeked, five-year-old boy who was clinging to my yoga mat. I slowly extricated it from his grasp and reminded him, “It’s time for class!” Jordan was the youngest student in the yoga class that I had designed for autistic children. His parents had told me how shy and fearful he was with adults. He held a special place in my heart, for his vulnerability resonated with my own.
Jordan grabbed my hand, and we walked right into the studio. I smiled. Right then, I knew that this would be a day of firsts. When he first started the class, five weeks ago, I had to coax him for twenty minutes with lollipops just so that he would enter the room. As the weeks progressed, he came into the studio more readily.
My other students were already standing in our Peace Circle. I held my breath, waiting to see if Jordan would join them without my prompting. He beamed and raced over to them, and my chest swelled, for his social skills seemed to be improving. When Jordan grabbed the hand of sixteen-year-old Chris, who suffered from depression, a smile touched Chris’s face. I had never before seen Jordan connect in this way with his classmates.
I walked into the circle and greeted the children. “Everybody stretch your arms as high up as you can,” I began, raising my arms into Sunrise Pose. As the children immediately quieted and imitated my arm motions, an instant tranquility filled the room. I watched to see if Jordan would follow, but he looked out of the room and wandered out of the circle. That’s alright, I thought. I’ll just have to wait a little longer.
But then, Jordan turned around, grinned and ran back into the circle. He squinted in concentration. When he lifted his arms into Sunrise Pose, I felt my heart skip a beat. He had never before done a posture with the rest of the class. I saw a new stillness and strength resonate throughout his body as he arched his back and stretched his arms to the sky.
Jordan remained focused for the rest of class. Afterwards, I knelt down and congratulated him with a hug. “I’m so proud of you, Jordan!” I said, and he beamed. Then, he took my face into his hands and pulled me close, staring into my eyes. I held my breath. “I trust you,” he said slowly. All I felt was joy, for my calm and trust had finally inspired his. I touched a hand to my cheek, moved.
“I’m here, Jordan!” called his mother, and he ran to her. She caught my eye and smiled, and I grinned in return. As they began walking away, she reached for his hand. But instead, he raised his arms to the sky as if he were his own sovereign sun, dawning on a new age and lighting up the lives of everybody around him. I felt myself rising too.

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