Today the whole world is overwhelmed by COVID-19. Experts are busy studying the nature of the virus and making advances in developing vaccination and antibiotics or other chemical medicines to destroy it.
Surely this has forced irreversible impacts on our lives, being in a state of constant fear, and being locked down is new normal. We usually don’t think of these influences as stressful for our kids, but often they are. Our children live in a hurry-up world of busy parents, school pressures, incessant lessons, video games, online assignments, etc. We keep hearing the problems in kids like insomnia, anger, low self-esteem, impulsivity, weak eyesight, hormonal imbalance, obesity, asthma, gadget addiction, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), back issues, and many more. Adding to all this, children are locked in houses, especially in metro cities with cramped spaces of compact multistory apartments. They are anxious to vent out, play with their friends. Prevailing conditions have complicated already burdened life of kids.
Yoga-The ultimate life hack
While it is a well known and oft-repeated fact that Yoga is beneficial for adults, why not expose our kids. Yoga helps the kids to learn different ways to relax and quieten the mind. This helps them prepare for the next school year ahead.
Yoga for Children, really?
When it comes to Yoga, generally we think of some funny spine breaking postures and maybe spiritual pursuits. All this is naturally, beyond understanding the level of children. However, it is important to realize that Yoga is a way of life- You can lay down a healthy base for your young one at an early age this helps him/her to take advantage of holistic health goal early in life. With very little effort we can offer our children the tools they need to maintain emotional balance. Consider filling your child’s emotional backpack with solutions and techniques they can use for stress management and relaxation. Kids can become active participants in creating their own healthy, calm lives.
Children, especially pre-schoolers, experience enormous physical and mental development. They are naturally curious and the best way to enhance intelligence and creativity is by providing interesting and appropriate stimulation. Additionally, at this age giving the child the ability to voluntarily control actions or emotions is a valuable lesson for life and future development. They will be more accommodative to the concept and easily learn. They are quick learners and impressionable. They are hyperactive and energetic- instead of watching cartoons, it is better to divert energies to useful activity.
This is also an age when children are highly teachable and trainable and so can readily respond to yoga. The school years are formative times for language, more accurate perceptions, communication, and logical reasoning. Yoga helps the growth of these areas while also introducing discipline and creativity. Their body is flexible enough at this age and they can quickly learn and adapt to yoga asana easily.
OK! But how to teach them practices?
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the eightfold path is called Ashtanga, which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb).
“Yama niyama āsana prāṇāyāma pratyāhāra dhāraṇā dhyāna samādhayaḥ aṣṭau añgāni”
These eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
It is important to realize that kids are natural-born yogis. If we observe a child, we see him inherently following 2 basic limbs of Asthanga Yoga viz., Yama like Ahminsa (non- violence), Satya (truth fullness), Asteya (no- stealing), Aparigraha(non- hoarding), etc: Niyama like Shoucha(Purity), Santosha(contentment), etc. It is said that these Yama and Niyama prepare our bodies for further studies in Yoga.
For maintaining good physical health even infants keep practicing (consciously or unconsciously) various postures (Asana) like Bhujanga (cobra pose), Marjhar (cat stretch), Pavanmukta (legs folded), etc.
Even with open eyes, they are lost in their own world similar to Pratyahar. They are in the ultimate state of highest bliss without any prejudice to their surroundings. They are the masterpiece created by nature and each newborn baby is perfect.
Teaching, or rather introducing Yoga to kids requires using imitation, arts, music, games, story, drama, visualization, and affirmations depending upon the target age group of children.
Yogic practices for kids
Pranayama (for health and balance of the pineal gland); omkar mantra (to challenge the child’s distracted mind); Brahma mudra with visualization (to maintain the pineal gland).Asana like Vajrasanastha Yog Mudra, Vajrasana, Tadasana, Hastpadasana, Sarvangasana, Simha Mudra. Pschimtanasana, Dhanurasana, and Chaitanyaasan may be practiced for overall well being and good health.
This international yoga day- let us make them relive this ancient Indian science!!
Inputs by Aditya Sharma, who works as a Scientific Officer at the Department of Atomic Energy and holds a diploma in Yoga science. He has conducted a number of Yoga workshops for adults and small kids.