Why Yoga Should Be Introduced in Schools
Yoga should be a part of each school’s curriculum, starting right at the kindergarten level. A child is most impressionable at the tender age of 5 years. They will take instructions from parents and teachers without hesitation. To quote the Upanishad: “Children run after external pleasures and fall into the net of wide-spread death.” Then again there is another message from ancient sages to mankind: “O son of the immortal! Know yourself as the Infinite! Become the All.” If children are put through the routine of learning language, art, history, mathematics and science then why not the yoga that is so all-encompassing and a path to supreme bliss?
Yoga as a lifestyle
Yoga, says Swami Sivananda, is a system of self-culture and practice for the harmonious development of body, mind and soul. It is a discipline and helps everyone to coordinate and control forces within the body. Yoga instils the discipline of mind, senses and physical body. This is particularly relevant considering that students, right from the KG level, are under immense pressure to perform. Yoga also brings perfection, calmness, equilibrium and peace. It gives increased energy that students need. Yoga has different pathways that lead to a holistic way of thought and life.
Yoga shapes the body, the mind and thought process.
For instance, karma yoga is about selfless service to humanity. Bhakti yoga teaches about the spiritual aspect of a man’s persona and the need for a connect with the Supreme self. It teaches about selfless love, truth and patience. Then there is Raja yoga that dwells on mind and control, to be very brief. Regular practice of yoga right from a tender age brings about better internal balance and keeps internal energy channels free. Yoga improves health as well as immunity. Yoga is also about the conscious and subconscious control of the mind that helps in resistance to disease, glandular health, toxin removal and healing processes. Healthy thought in a healthy mind in a healthy body for life is what yoga endows on the child, a gift priceless beyond education. If your child’s school does not have yoga in its curriculum you, as a parent, can get them started on the easy yoga path.
For beginners, one should try out yoga poses for concentration.
Yogasanas for improved concentration
1. Tratak Kriya
Tratak is a kriya within the overall practice of yoga, aimed at helping children and students achieve focus as well as concentration. Tratak is a part of hatha yoga practice and this is how you do it or get your child to do it.
Sit cross-legged in a darkened room.
Keep eyes closed.
Keep an object, such as a lighted candle, at eye level, about 1.5 metres away.
Open eyes, Keep staring only at the lighted candle or a spot until your eyes get tired.
Close eyes and relax and then repeat the process.
Make sure you try not to blink when you stare at the light or blink as little as possible.
2. Vrikshasana (The tree pose)
Get your child to try Vrikshasana or the tree pose.
Make your child stand on one foot.
Hands above your head.
The other leg is drawn up in such a way that the sole of the heel touches insides of the thigh.
Breathe easy and try to maintain this pose.
3. Virbhadrasana 1 (Warrior pose1)
Warrior pose is another pose that improves focus and concentration.
The child stands straight with legs apart.
Turn right foot by 90 degrees.Then bend forward and extend hands straight above your head.
The other leg is stretched back.
Breathe easy and concentrate on balance and a fixed spot on the floor.
4. Ardha Chandrasana (half-moon pose)
Ardha Chandrasana or half-moon pose is worth a try.
The child stands on the floor.
Then bends the torso and extends one arm to touch the floor.
Raising the other leg straight, parallel to the floor and the other arm straight up in the air, aligned with the other arm.
Maintain the pose for as long as you can.
5. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (The extended hand to big toe pose.)
One other asana to try is the Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana or the extended hand to big toe pose.
Raise one leg straight up, at right angle to the body.
Keep one arm alongside the leg touching the floor on your hip for support.
Extend the other arm to grasp the big toe of the raised foot.
Maintain pose while breathing easy and staring at a fixed point.
If its difficult to maintain the balance, then take support of a wall or a table or anything near you.
Once you feel your child can do the above poses, you can try out other poses for other benefits. Below is a list of various yoga poses.
Yogasana to sharpen memory
The right foods help to improve your child’s brainpower. You could try giving them herbal remedies like shankhpushpi and brahmi to improve brainpower. At the same time, get them to practise these yogasanas:
● Bakasana or crane pose.
● Vajrasana or thunderbolt pose.
● Halasana or plough pose.
● Sarvangasana or shoulder stand pose.
● Paschimottanasana or seated forward pose.
Your child needs to be healthy and strong for which you can get them to practise these asanas to boost immunity.
Immunity boosting yogasana
It is not necessary to do all these; anyone will suffice.
● Ardha matsyasana or Half Fish pose.
● Uttanasana or forward fold.
● Viparit karni, shoulder stand, legs supported by the wall.
● Sukhasana with deep breathing.
Yogasana for energy and vitality
Children are naturally active but these yogasanas give a natural energy boost:
● Urdha mukha svanasana or Upward facing dog post.
● Bhujangasan or cobra pose.
● Urdha hastasana or upward salute.
● Salabhasana or locust pose.
Yogasanas for a balanced metabolism
Some children can become hyperactive with ADHD while others may become sluggish. These yogasanas help to balance metabolism and ensure healthy growth.
● Halasana or plough pose.
● Sarvangasana or shoulder stand.
● Virbhadrasana or warrior pose.
● Ardha chandrasana or half-moon pose.
Yogasana to relieve stress and anxiety
Children are under tremendous pressure. Make sure your child practises at least one of these yogasanas to relieve stress and anxiety.
● Utthita trikonasana or extended triangle.
● Matsyasana or fish pose.
● Viparita Karani.
● Sukhasana or padmasan with pranayama and anulom-vilom.
Comprehensive exercise for the physical and mental well-being of students
As we have seen above many asanas give multiple benefits. You can let your child practise only these and it will give benefits. However, your children do need a healthy dose of physical activity like jumping, climbing, running or swimming for overall fitness and wellbeing. Make sure your children engage in any of these exercises for at least 15 minutes each day, more if possible. Getting them to play strenuous games like football or hockey is a good way to make sure they stay fit and healthy.