As you sow, so you reap.
Children are the epitome of love and innocence, capable of high degrees of adaptability. They take the shape of the mould they are provided with, by way of parental and external influences.
Consequently, the formative years of childhood become a crucial period when habits, character, and vital personality traits are shaped for life. Though genetic tendencies hold clues of what
might be in store, yet to rely wholly on these markers is akin to putting all the eggs in one basket. The influence of the environment- mainly home and school serve as signposts for children to chart their own destiny.
Catch them young and watch them grow
Children soak in the inputs available to them, which are embedded in the psyche. As they get exposed to myriad experiences in life, it is imperative to arm them with strength of character and the power to discern, that will help them face life with equanimity. Integrity in thought, word and deed are abiding qualities that would hold the children in good stead all through life.
It is here that yoga comes in like divine intervention. Yoga is a science applicable to all age groups. Inculcating the habit of yoga from very young is perhaps the ideal way to achieve balance in the mind-body-soul realm. Holistic health, which includes prevention of diseases by improving the thought pattern, regulating the energy flow in the body and realizing the divine within, is as important for children as much as it is for adults.
School, a home away from home for children, where maximum learning takes place, will do well to include health education in the curriculum. A good way to begin would be to train children in yogic techniques during designated school hours, which will ensure discipline and consistency in the practice of yoga. The practice should ideally be started early in a simple manner, to build
the practice effectively in the child's life.
Empowering children with yoga
Yoga acts as a catalyst and unravels the many wonderful qualities that children possess. Apart from the apparent physical benefits, it helps the child become aware and focused. Even special children with learning disorders benefit immensely with yoga.
Let's look at how yogic techniques impact children.
The postures aid in the development of the body, instilling awareness of the body in the child's mind. Parallely, the child is able to grasp the importance of maintaining appropriate posture, crucial to ward off fatigue and restlessness. Guiding them with useful postures and instructions that yoga relies on will provide an excellent platform for the child's growth.
Diet and Hygiene
Yogic discipline motivates children to adopt good eating habits that include fresh fruits and vegetables. The emphasis on saatwic food, that yoga reiterates, gets deeply ingrained in the child's psyche. Cleanliness and hygiene, whose role is well known and is needless to emphasize, becomes a way of life.
Pranayama (Breath Awareness)
Deep breathing practice involves the technique of filling the lungs with oxygen that help the child by promoting calmness of the mind and enriching the blood supply. Very early in life, the child realizes the manifold benefits of good breathing techniques, something that eludes even the grown-ups!
Developing positive thoughts and building self-esteem begins with healthy visualization techniques. Children are guided to visualize themselves as happy, healthy children. Inhibitions, fears and negative feelings are given a cold shoulder, ensuring positive energy flow in the child, and a fertile environment for latent virtues to come to the fore.
Instruments to still the mind, these mantra sound and vibration reduce agitation of the mind, and wasteful distractions. With this powerful tool, the child is able to divert the energies towards
maximizing learning and developing a well honed personality,
Awareness is all about discernment and being in the know of what is good and bad. It might sound clichéd, but bad habits die hard- A reminder that habit formation begins when young and lasts for
life. Therefore, children need to be aware of healthy habits. Yoga when inculcated young, endows inner strength needed to surmount the many evils and temptations strewn along the paths of life.
Mind is akin to monkey they say, and true for children as well. What might vary is the nature of thoughts that emanate. Children have boundless energies and always want to indulge in activities,
sometimes aimlessly flitting from one activity to another. Though this conveys the innate curiosity in children that promotes learning, yet it also signifies the agitated nature of the mind. Meditation comes in handy, stilling the jumping monkey within and recharging batteries.
Of course, it is not a joke to get a child to meditate. If attempts are successful, meditation will improve concentration in studies, get over disappointments, promote healthy competitive spirit, and infuse positive evaluation of self, creating a confident and winning personality. Insecurities formed in childhood have a way of eating into precious adulthood. With yoga, these are given a dose of therapy that enables the child to get over negative influences and look
forward to happy tomorrows.