The whole world knows the miracle of yoga. It provides perfection to one's personality and strengthens the individual's aura. Children are trained in yoga to keep themselves mentally, physically, spiritually, psychologically and morally fit.
Yoga is a scientific system of physical and mental practices that originated in India more than three thousand years ago. Its purpose is to help each one of us achieve our highest potential and to experience enduring health and happiness. With Yoga, we can extend our healthy, productive years far beyond the accepted norm and at the same time, improve the quality of our lives.
The branch of Yoga that forms the main focus of my teaching work with both adults and children is called Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga begins by working with the body on a structural level, helping to align the vertebrae, increases flexibility, and strengthens muscles and connective tissues. At the same time, internal organs are toned and rejuvenated; the epidermal, digestive, lymphatic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary systems are purified of toxins and waste matter; the nervous and endocrine systems are balanced and toned; and brain cells are nourished and stimulated. The end result is increased mental clarity, emotional stability, and a greater sense of overall well-being.
Because Yoga works on so many different levels, it has great potential as an effective therapy for chronic diseases and conditions that do not respond well to conventional treatment methods. For this reason, children with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities who practice Yoga often surprise their parents and teachers with their quick mastery of basic motor, communicative, and cognitive skills. The same Yoga routine can help children with learning disabilities develop greater concentration, balance, and composure in their daily lives. Everyone gains some level of benefit. The only requirements are proper instruction and regular practice.
It is important to remember that Yoga is not just a slow-motion calisthenics workout or superficial exercise routine. Anyone who practices correctly soon begins to appreciate the depth and breadth of its benefits. For this reason, we always recommend that the parents of special students enroll in an adult Yoga class; then they can experience the effects of Yoga for themselves. After a number of lessons, they may experience some of the following benefits: the relaxation and softening of deep inner tensions and blockages, a sense of body-mind equilibrium and a feeling of energetic buoyancy that can carry one right through the most difficult of days.
At our school, we often remind students not to strain or force themselves. Yoga is not a contest or a "quick fix." Like the proverbial story of the tortoise and the hare, Yoga favours quiet, consistent application over theatrical displays and superficial accomplishments. It does not require that we transform ourselves overnight into something beyond our capacity. Yoga begins by accepting our limitations, whatever they may be and working with this self-acceptance as a base. In our daily practice, we gradually learn to transcend our limitations, one by one, and in this way, real and lasting progress is possible.