Amrita Yoga Summer Workshops were conducted at Amrita Vidyalayam schools in India. Amrita Vidyalayam schools provide a value based education along with holistic living tools and techniques for the children. Brahmacharini Shobhana, from Mata Amritanandamayi Math and Gunavati, renunciate from Finland, conducted these programs this summer. The students attended the session in batches and were encouraged to experience the real joy of yoga.
The body and mind are both interconnected and interdependent instruments. A healthy mind and body are vital for holistic living. To ensure the wellbeing of both, the ancient Indian rishis divined the practices of yoga and meditation. Amma is imparting the riches of this ancient wisdom to modern society through Amrita Yoga.
The emphasis of the summer workshops this year was to instill Amma’s message – ‘Education for life and education for living’ – in the minds of young children. The playful interaction of the Brahmacharinis with the students made the workshops very interesting. Real life incidents were shared with the children to make this vital teaching relevant and profound. The students were also exposed to different yoga asanas, which would help them to develop their focus and increase their energy levels.
Besides being fun and giving children the challenge they love, Amrita Yoga can help them in many other ways. Obviously yoga asanas keep the growing body healthy and flexible, and many future health problems can be thus avoided. Yogasana practice helps to increase concentration and balance emotions, which is very important for the children of this age. It can be a healthy way of channeling the emotions and energies of a growing body and mind in a world where a young person can so easily get lost and confused. It creates confidence and enthusiasm in children and helps them to learn about and appreciate the ancient Indian culture and values.
With Amrita Yoga, children develop a holistic and spiritual approach to yoga, a fun way to learn about Indian tradition with its strong value based culture and Amma’s teachings. Yogasanas for kids and young children (primary school) children between ages 3-7 are done in a playful way and they enjoy it very much. The next age category is ages 8-12 and these children learn more advanced movements. For example, they learn the traditional Surya Namaskarah sequence in a rhythmic tone imbued with values from the epic Ramayana. Thus through asanas they also learn about the deep-rooted values from the Indian culture. This approach is well received and seems great for children because they love moving fast, jumping and using their energy by raising their voices. They repeat almost all of the instructions with so much energy and enthusiasm that any one that watches will only be enthralled to see all sparkling eyes and bubbling joy.
The instructor on and off checks with the children: “Are you tired?”
Children raise their voices to say: “No”
She corrects them to say: “Not yet” and they repeat.
She also says at times: “Are you sure?”
Children say: “yes, yes, yes.”
Thus one can witness the whole atmosphere filled with vibrant, pure and innocent energy from the beginning of the session until the very end. It is one of the most healing sights to see laughing children jumping with joy and rolling on the floor. Even older children get playful and it’s good for them; they shouldn’t forget how to play. As a matter of fact, nobody should forget how to play. That’s why it’s so rejuvenating to be around children.
The teens were unique with their strength and curiosity and willingness to showcase their talents and skills. Thus in every class we present several fun and partner asanas and a few challenging classical asanas for inspiration and entertainment. Children love to try them out.
Each session would start with an introductory talk depending on the children’s age, to facilitate interaction amongst the children. We strive to make it interesting and also offer them something to think about. Sometimes westerners travelling along talk about their countries and how and why they came to India and Amma. At the same time this is to remind the children about the greatness of Indian culture, the importance of nurturing the tradition and the unique opportunity they have in studying at Amrita Vidyalayam.
We were surprised about the receptivity of Mumbai 12th grade students. The talk was about managing emotions and after that there was some yogasana. They listened very attentively and even asked for another session! It was surprising to see almost grown up, big city children show so much interest and sincerity. It was very touching.
Throughout each of the workshops at each school, the students were motivated to think beyond the basic purpose of their life and focus on achieving the higher goal, like the importance of being unique, to find the path that would bring inner joy to them and to strive for betterment of the society around them. The students were encouraged to respect and acknowledge their feelings and to stay inspired by continuously focusing on their strengths and manage their emotions. They were asked to not be disheartened by small hurdles that would come their way while achieving their goals. A contemplative, reflective and mature life will empower them with the wisdom to tackle the challenges of the future.
The benefits of yogasana as being the best ancient technique with the potential to revive every part of the body, every muscle, joint and tissue of the body was emphasized. The students were made conscious of the real peace, strength and energy in them.
Amrita Yoga offers a holistic approach to asana practice uniquely imbued with awareness and devotion. It teaches the art of tuning to one’s true being and connecting to one’s own essence.