Girlvana Yoga: You Can Sit With Us

When I was in middle school there was a very important movie that was released - Mean Girls. This movie started an epidemic of phrases such as, “fugly,” “burn book,” “I’m a cool Mom” and the most hurtful - “You CAN’T sit with us!” This movie glamorized being a ‘Mean Girl’ (as if middle school wasn’t already hard enough) and started a wildfire of girl on girl bullying.

I can still remember very clearly the first moment that I looked in the mirror, standing next to one of my girlfriends, and thought, “you have some ugly thighs Nikki. Your eyebrows are a mess. Your face is so ugly with all of that acne.” I was 12.

Much time has passed since middle school but I still see the effects of this movie, and those forms of limiting beliefs, today in high school. I am a 9th & 12th grade teacher at Shaker Heights High School and a yoga instructor in the community. Through my own experiences, I always knew that I wanted to focus on empowerment for young women, but I didn’t know how outside of the classroom.

Fast forward one year and I found Girlvana Yoga. I had already been a yoga instructor for four years but once again, I stumbled into my niche with Girlvana. Girlvana’s mission is to raise the consciousness of teen girls through yoga, meditation & raw conversation. Being a Girlvana yoga instructor gave me a new set of lenses to view teenagers, my classroom, and how to heal the teenager in me. It became my mission to empower, include, and create experiences for young women ever since this training.

Talking to teen girls about body shaming, social media, the pressures of school, and what truly lights them UP is so amazing. This community allows ALL girls to show up truly as they are - no filters or judgments. We create beautifully intentioned crafts (flower crowns, positive affirmations, etc.), reflect on introspective journal prompts, write self-love letters, and share. We share ALL the feels with Girlvana Yoga - not just the social media highlights. This is the group of girls that I wish I had been able to ‘sit with’ as a teenager. I feel as though I’m helping change my little corner of the world one teenager at a time. Because when we empower each other as women, we know exactly the type of ripple effect it can truly have!

Young girls ‘Can Sit With Us’ this summer on a retreat in Hocking Hills Ohio with 14 other teenage girls or also have Girlvana Yoga at your local girls group / yoga studio as well.

The magic is for every girl and everyBODY. The world needs you to be you, find your truest self and share that with the world,
Namaste Nik

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Nikki Costa

Shaker Heights High School English teacher / 200 hr. Registered Yoga Instructor / Youth Mentor / Girlvana Yoga Instructor / Writer. My mission is to create positive, empowered, and fun experiences through yoga, writing, and authentic discussion for teenagers in CLE.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Wow! I’m so impressed with what you do! As a mom of a 16 yr old girl — Thank You! Love the “unfiltered” comment. It’s something that teenagers are so afraid to be - truly themselves without any photoshopping or filters. Keep up this important work!!!

  • Thanks for your insightful comments. I went to Shaker Heights during my middle school years though we called it Junior High School. I went to Fernway in 6th grade and Lee Burneson Jr High in 7th & 8th grades. 6th grade was a very tough year for me for the reasons you mention because I moved there from Medina which was the polar opposite of Shaker Heights. The teachers in Shaker Heights were outstanding and made all the difference. I still remember the camping trip we went on in 6th grade. I made some of the best friends I ever made on that trip that stayed with me in Junior High school. I’m forever greatful for the teachers from that school that changed my life dramatically and for the better and set me on the trajectory of my life.

    This is slightly off topic but have you ever used the documentary movies “Missrepresentation” and “The Mask You Live In” from Misrepresentation.org at your school? They are films made about the harmful impact media has on kids. They are very powerful movies designed to appeal to kids in the age groups you teach. Perhaps they’re better suited for high school but I think evety school should show them.

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