Paying it Forward, in Two Languages

by Jordan Grinstein

During my first visit to Kripalu in the summer of 2010, Kripalu Yoga teacher Coby Kozlowski hit me over the head with what she calls “the cosmic 2-by-4.” “Wake up and get on the boat,” she told me. Her program, Quarter-Life Calling: Living an Extraordinary Life in Your 20s, combined with my Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training, which I completed in November 2010, inspired me to live to my full potential. The Kripalu campus quickly became a sacred space of transformation, and applying for the volunteer program was the next logical step.

Early on in my volunteer semester, a fellow volunteer asked me if I wanted to teach a yoga class in Spanish to Kripalu staff members for whom English is a second language. I responded with an enthusiastic yes. The first Spanish word that came to my mind was estirar, to stretch. My classes for staff, supported by a Teaching for Diversity grant from Kripalu, gave me the opportunity to practice and study so I could comfortably teach an entire yoga class in Spanish.

Elva, Lilia, Isabel, Jesus, José, and my other students often find me in the halls of Kripalu and ask for advice to help with body pains and fatigue. For example, Lilia has an injured shoulder and I showed her breathing and relaxation techniques to ease her pain, and exercises to bring energy to the injured area. To offer them the gifts of yoga is a blessing that will inspire me always.

I recently prepared for another teaching role: This past basketball season, I was the freshman boys’ high school basketball coach at North Middlesex Regional High School in Townsend, Massachusetts. The team I coached is the same team I played for when I was attending North Middlesex High. Fueled by an indefatigable love of basketball and a passion for transformation through yoga, I put forth my energy into fusing these two things together.

This was my second season as head coach. Last season, I taught yoga to the boys in the basketball program and, this season, I implemented yoga practices and philosophy with greater organization and depth; it was a three-month yoga basketball workshop of sorts. The team had a rigorous schedule of games and practices, and the amount of time we spent together was plentiful: two hours a day, six days a week, with bus rides to and from games. This was a great opportunity to provide these kids with tools they can use to be thriving student athletes in their community. I offered them tools to support what I want to see in the world: awareness, unity, and love.

Jordan Grinstein is a Kripalu Yoga teacher and a recipient of Kripalu's Teaching for Diversity grant.

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