Finding My Students

Back in June a couple of young ladies, Audrey Garces and Sarahbeth Maney, from the SF Examiner joined my Wednesday morning yoga class at Silver Avenue Family Health Center. They were summer interns at the paper and had seen an email asking if anyone wanted to run a story about our free community yoga class. Audrey and Sarahbeth seemed young and even said they were interns only for the summer, so I suspected the story would be tucked away somewhere deep in the paper. I was surprised to find on Sunday July 9th that their story and a picture of me was on the front page of the SF Examiner. In fact, the website had the article under ‘Breaking News’ for a few hours that day. :0


SF Examiner across the street from my building July 9th

It’s a good article and touches on the importance of yoga accessibility. Yoga accessibility has become a pretty big part of my career. I don’t currently have any studio affiliation. I work mostly with kids in school at their schools and beyond that I go to the health center and the Indiegogo offices. When I teach I am bringing class to the students rather than asking my students to find me. I believe this is important because, for most of the people I teach, there might be no other access to class or perhaps no real introduction to yoga beyond large scale media messages. Limited access can be caused by any number of reasons including a busy schedule, costs, or physical limitations.


“Jaedra DiGiammarino instructs a yoga class at the Silver Avenue Family Health Center in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)”

Of the approximately 20 million people practicing yoga in the United States about 82% are women 68% are earning over $75,000 annually, and 71% are college graduates according to the video Yoga Diversity:Introduction. At this point these statistics are not at all shocking because it is precisely this young, educated, affluent demographic that is the receiving end of almost all yoga marketing.  I have yet to see a yoga brand (clothing, mats, props etc.) with a model older than about 29. A cursory google images search of “yoga wear for seniors” might have mistaken seniors, meaning men and women over about 60, for seniors in high school as none of the models appear to be more than 18.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with young affluent women practicing yoga. And perhaps it’s a good thing that no one is marketing to older or underserved demographics yet because you don’t need $100 pants or a $30 yoga block to practice yoga. You just need a little space. I believe there are many many students not yet practicing who might like and benefit from yoga study. In fact it was my now 87 year old grandfather, a former educator himself who started practicing yoga long after retirement, that just a few years ago mentioned perhaps having yoga in every school would be a great benefit to students and society as a whole.


Teresita Datu participates in a yoga class at the Silver Avenue Family Health Center in San Francisco, Calif. Wednesday, June 28, 2017. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Right now yoga seems like a trend but, it’s an ancient practice with benefits gaining merit through modern research. It’s here to stay. While having a yoga teacher at school seems luxurious right now I hope that in the not too distant future schools will have a yoga and wellness educator in the same way that we currently have a PE coach or an English/Social Studies teacher. Additionally, health centers will become places of real health, rather than where you go only when you are sick. People will see their doctor for preventative care, advice on things like nutrition and exercise which will be readily available through services like food education and our humble class at Silver Avenue Family Health Center.


Aparigraha is the last of the Yamas. It can be translated as non-possessiveness or sharing.

This past week I was back at the Presidio YMCA with the 3-5th grade yoga campers.

On Monday we learned the Yamas: Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Bramacharia, and Aparigraha and together the kids decided on a group name The 9 Yogi Jedi including all 7 campers, myself, and one other counselor.

On Tuesday Grant, a new camper, joined us. We went from being The 9 Yogi Jedi to The 10 Yogi Jedi. We spent the day on a fantastic field trip to Green Gulch Farm.

Visiting the honey bees at Green Gulch Farm

On Wednesday we were back in the yoga studio and we went over the Yamas with Grant, the 10th Yogi Jedi. We spent a little extra time on Aparigraha. Detachment or non-possessiveness  is an interesting and difficult concept. I offered an example, “It’s like if one day I buy a nice sweater and I really like my nice new sweater but I actually already have a pretty good sweater at home and I don’t really need a second one. Then I meet someone without any sweaters at all so I offer them one of my sweaters.” We also talked about not being too upset when we loose something as well as sharing space like sharing a room with a sibling or guest.

On Thursday Darth Vader, one of the campers, was out sick for the day. The rest of us made meditation jars.

Watching the glitter fall. The yellow one on the left was the original demo jar.

On Friday Darth Vader was back and impressed by our cool mediation jars. He asked if he could have the one I had made as a demo. I had been thinking about holding on to it to use in other classrooms but then Grant said, “It’s just like the sweater. Darth doesn’t have one so we should give him this one.” I was so happy he remembered the story. I couldn’t argue with that, nor did I have any desire to argue with him. I definitely wanted Darth to have the meditation jar. About 45 minutes later we presented our end of camp yoga demonstration to one of the parents who was a little early for pick up and wanted to see what we had learned. After the demo all the kids picked up their awesome meditation jars to show her. This poor woman was swarmed by 8 Yogi Jedi. One little Yogi Jedi, Gabie, in all the excitement dropped her glitter filled glass mason jar on the breezeway’s cement floor. Everyone was fine but the jar shattered. Glitter and colorful water spilled in every direction. We cleared the area and got some help cleaning up. Practicing aparigraha, Gabie wasn’t too upset by the loss. Another 10 minutes or so go by. With the exception of our short presentation Darth had been gazing at his new mediation jar for just about all of the last hour. Now he picked it up and brought it over to the table where the girls were sitting to offer it to Gabie to keep.

One End of the Ulna

Last year I was teaching a class for a group of second and third graders; 7, 8, and 9 year olds. One afternoon as I sat on my mat an inquisitive little yogini sat next to me and took notice of my wrist. “What is that?!” She asked, clearly concerned about the protruding bulb sticking out at the end of my forearm. “It’s my bone.” I replied. Her concern turned to curiosity as I tried as best I could to explain about the ulna’s functions in the body.  When I said, “Look you have one too!” curiosity turned into shock at never having noticed this part of her own body before. She was however, clearly comforted by the fact that I have one too and it’s totally normal.

YMCA Yoga and Arts Camp 3-5

YMCA Campers are having a blast this summer at Yoga and Arts Camp!

Question for Campers: “What is your favorite part of Yoga and Arts Camp?”

Answers: “I liked it all!” “Deep relaxation.” “Meditation jars.” “The Zendo at Green Gulch.” 

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One of the highlights of our 3rd through 5th grade week was taking a trip to the Green Gulch Farm. Campers really loved meditation in the Zendo, smelling, touching, and even tasting some of the leaves and fruits on the farm, and learning about the honey bees complete with a treat; honey on a sorrel leaf! One of the quotes from our thank you letter pretty much sums it up, “I really liked Green Gulch farm I want to live there SO badly! I hope I can go there again.”