YOGA FOR CHILDREN

Without a doubt, bringing up a child is one of the most complex, interesting and exciting accomplishments a human can do. As parents, we are constantly worrying about the many issues the world will throw at our children whilst at the same time balancing their emotional and psychological needs. In addition to this, parents must also make sure that their children’s spiritual, physical, nutritional and social needs are being met. Alongside the necessary teaching of kindness, compassion and truthfulness the list could go on forever. This is most definitely a daunting prospect for most parents.

I have found that through the positivity and fun of yoga, some of the issues children face today can be addressed.  I have written a series of stories in which I have tried to tackle some of concerns around developing emotional intelligence with positivity. There have been many studies into this area from the likes of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle as well as Karl Marx and John Stuart Mills. All have studied in depth the nurturing of emotional intelligence and character to show that humans have noble tendencies and the best way forward is to nurture this though our children.
 
The stories I have written all have the Yamas and Niyamas present throughout.  The Yamas and Niyamas are a way of understanding life’s experiences and the best way of dealing with them and directing our lives onto a path of balance and mindfulness – an education for the soul.  The Yamas represent ‘restraints’ such as non-violence, not stealing, not being over excessive and not being possessive.  The Niyamas in turn represent ‘observations’ such as contentment, self discipline, self study and surrender. By applying the Yamas and Niyamas to our everyday lives, this way of thinking can come into our lives and transform us into better people. The contentment and satisfaction gained from putting these apllications into practice can be the biggest gift we can give ourselves. To then pass these on to our children as part of their essential moral education is most definitely one of the most rewarding things a parent can do.

My stories relate to the modern world and look at many view points. I always write with a strong moral and educational compass but always on a level that a child can relate to. I believe that this helps children to gain essential resilience, patience and flexibility so that their mental and psychological wellbeing becomes stable and fulfilling. I feel that using stories are useful as an interactive tool to introduce yoga into children’s lives.  It is important for young yogis to gain body awareness but crucially this should be in a relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere.  Having fun whilst being present both in the moment and body is a life affirming experience for many young children.  Stories are made to be shared and can involve the participation of the whole family as well as friends. 

Children who have medical issues are also able to benefit from yoga to stimulate muscles, engage the mind and help with mental health.  As a mother of a terminally ill child I know if I had known of such benefits at the time I would have greatly appreciated this stimulation.  In the past I have used my stories in schools and it has been remarked on that the stories and the impact of yoga have achieved a calmer more productive school environment.
 
Teaching children to help them develop as good mannered, socially acceptable human beings is a challenging task. This task should also include the universally recognised morals of emotional learning, violence prevention, ethical reasoning and conflict. These values are at the core of kindness, generosity, courage and respect and can be recognised through these stories.  In the modern world change can be very rapid and frightening for a child. This can manifest itself as cognitive stress which in turn can lead to anxiety and other behavioural disorders.  In my stories I aim to combat this through showing young children and parents there are different ways to instil values and moral codes. Through yoga it is possible show young children, in a way that is non threatening and accessible to them, that even though we have desires for material gain, it is in fact possible to control these feelings. Rebellion, disobedience and deceit are issues that we must all overcome but for child these feelings can be overwhelming.

Using these stories to produce a moral character of the child’s own means they can turn to loved ones when feeling out of depth. My stories can start to bring about the building blocks of yoga into the lives of young yogis and help with the journeys and difficulties that can be faced during adolescence in later in life.

I strongly feel that Yoga is not just a series of postures (Asanas) but also a way of thinking. The Yamas and Niyams are a way of understanding life’s experiences and how to deal with these experiences in the best possible way. They can become your jewels of wisdom in a diverse and fast paced life. An education for the soul. By applying the Yamas and Niyamas to our everyday life it is possible to truly transform our lives. The contentment that can be gained from using these applications can nourish a child in ways that they can carry forward into adult life.

Join Camel and his friends Butterfly, Turtle, Naughty Lizard and Goddess in a fun filled story through the desert.  Concentrating on the Yamas; Asteya (non Stealing), Satya (truthfulness) and the Niyamas; Svadhyaya (self study) and Santosha (contentment with what we have) each story in turn brings together these essential elements to bring peace and harmony in relation to today’s world. Camel loves walking by the river and traveling to meet his friends making him happy.  The restfulness of Camel and his calm nature is at odds with Naughty Lizard. The stories show how these two creatures, with some understanding, can come to an agreement and become unlikely friends. Their friendship and understanding of each other develops with the help of Goddess intervening to bring harmony to the situation.  The love and peace of all the friends encourages Lizard to act in a more responsible way and enables him to see that stealing is not the correct answer to getting what you desire and that working as a team member is much more desirable. This shows warmth and compassion to others with the moral tale of not stealing and helping others at a time of crisis. Inflicting distress on others is not the way to behave when a more peaceful resolution can be a much better outcome for all involved.




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