Today’s generation of kids is a bright lot. However, their senses are being incessantly bombarded by peer pressure, relentless lessons, video games, zombie-like TV watching, over-competitive activities and of course, lack of parental guidance. This usually hampers their innate joy.
When children learn yoga, they are able to steer through life’s challenges with more ease and grace. Yoga at an early age encourages life-cum-body awareness and high self-esteem. It helps them keep their energies flowing towards life rather than against. Most importantly, they are able to form harmonious relationships with their family, peers and the natural world.
It is our collective tragedy that yoga is barely practiced in the country of its origin. Not surprising one gets to read about children faking their own kidnaps, killing or mercilessly beating up their classmates over silly issues, ragging their juniors to death (quite literally!)-killing their younger sibling due to jealousy and lack of tolerance……..obviously, we as adults have gone wrong somewhere. Today, many children suffer from migraine, digestive disorders, emotional disorders like ADD, depression and lack of self-esteem. Thanks to the extremely fickle and frivolous expectations of society, children are all the time stressed about looking good and consequently, suffer from disorders like insomnia, bulimia and anorexia.
In the earlier times, yoga was part of the curriculum of Indian youth. It was supposed to be mandatory in gurukuls so that it becomes a way of life. Today, children have no concept of yoga and if it’s taught, the subtle essence is missing as the practice is only in the realm of asanas. It is indeed a very sad loss because children are the building blocks of any society and with their impressionable, sponge-like minds; they can soak in all the goodness that yoga has to offer. Imagine, what a wonderful world we’d all be in if concepts like duties to self and others, compassion for others, ahimsa, cleanliness, surrendering of the ego, self-reliance were ingrained in their mind and spirit right from their early years.
TEACHING YOGA TO KIDS
Children are usually very flexible and it is not hard to teach them different difficult poses. However, they learn better through a fun-filled method rather than coercive teaching. For instance, Bhujangasana (the snake pose), Simhasana (lion pose), Vrksasasna (tree pose), cat stretch, Ustrasana (camel pose) are all poses which children love doing if shown with a little bit of story-telling. When asked to stretch like a cat, stand strong like a tree, roar like a lion, children are using their imagination to connect with all forms of life. Here, they begin to have a healthy reverence for nature, wild life, and other forms of life as well as human beings.
BENEFITS OF YOGA
Children derive many multi-dimensional benefits from yoga. Some of the main benefits of yoga include:
- Yoga as an armor of protection:
Children that are initiated early into Yoga, have the additional benefit of being physically fit, mentally and emotionally firm, and spiritually inclined. Techniques of yoga for self-health, relaxation and inner fulfillment helps them navigate life’s challenges with a lot more ease.
- Yoga for strength and flexibility:
Yoga will help a child strengthen his immune system. Moreover, children are the best students of yoga as their bodies are naturally flexible, they are fearless therefore they can take up physical challenges easily. This helps them in the long run to be as fearless and forthright about the deeper challenges in life and keep rigidity at bay.
- Yoga for awakening creativity:
If you notice even two year olds are extremely creative when it comes to making up stories. Creativity is a natural instinct. We are all very creative as kids but somewhere down the line, we leave our creative instincts and try to chase logic, which is against our nature. Yoga helps to bring that marvelous inner spark to surface.
- Yoga for enhancing memory and learning capacity:
Yoga enhances strength, flexibility, co-ordination and body awareness in children. With very little emotional baggage, they have a lot less to unlearn, and make better yoga students and practitioners.
- Yoga for Mutual Respect
Yoga encourages self-esteem along with a healthy respect and compassion for others. Children exercise, play, connect more deeply with their inner self and develop an intimate relationship with the natural world that surrounds them. Picture this. When they are performing various animal and nature asanas like the lion pose (Simhasana) and the palm tree pose (Talasana). When they assume the pose of a lion, they experience not only the power and behavior of the lion but also their own sense of power. In the Palm Tree pose they stretch beyond themselves. When they are asked to imagine being in that steady pose for several years or would it be OK if they are chopped down, they learn to revere all forms of life.
Yoga is holistic and truly all encompassing. It is a great tool for kids not only to enhance their flexibility but also their performance in any sphere they choose to participate in. As adults, we can look towards creating a society of beautiful people by gifting our children mindful living with yoga.
The writer is a yoga sadhak and freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next by the writer: Ten Yoga Poses Children Will Love
Yasmin Remedios has been learning, practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade. She was a full-time writer and editor in a corporate set up but after suffering from serious health issues such as slipped disc, severe anemia and arthritis, she took up yoga and changed her life around. Today, at 43, she says she feels her fittest best. She runs marathons, often cycles over a 100k, hikes every month and last but not the least, practices yoga every day. She hopes to inspire everyone into making yoga a way of life.