Article published in Esamskriti; link here
See video here
As a kriya yog teacher I am often asked this question by parents, as to what age children should be introduced to pranayam. My answer to this always is ‘from the womb!’ When mothers to be practice the ayaam of pran- training and tuning the pran to flow smoothly, they plant the seed of it in the child growing in their body.
The practice of pranayam, just like yog, is not a regimen to be done as an exercise three times a week. It is an awareness of the life force that flows through us regulating our every emotion, thoughts and the functioning of our metabolism.
I have had the great honour of students from age two accompanying their parents for my classes, often because there was no one home to mind them and I have been surprised at their absorption and learning in what was a casual attendance.
Many of these children are now in college and some working. Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing my eleven month old granddaughter imitating the pranayam practice which she had seen me do that morning and which has now become a daily play.
The techniques given in the video are a result of the observations on my part of children in my class and in schools where I have shared yog practice with students. To see VIDEO
The gift of Pranayam
It’s a no brainer to even compute the benefits of correct Pranayam techniques for children. It’s like trying to fathom if our breath keeps us alive.
When our children learn the art and science of correct breathing they actually learn the art and science of life. The following plusses have been observed by me in the children who were, even if in a limited way introduced to pranayam.
As children it’s an effortless learning that is imbibed by them as second nature.
The tuned and trained breath fills them with vitality, joy and alertness.
It improves their concentration and helps them to complete tasks at a much faster pace. This leaves more time for rest and leisure, both important ingredients for a happy childhood.
Since the pran is so closely connected to the mind, a calm breath leads to a calm mind giving the children the much needed assistance for dealing with peer pressure, unhealthy competition, bullying and other stressors from the external environment.
Some simple do’s and don’ts
This video is meant to be an introduction for very young children. Of course I don’t expect them to see this video. Hence, it is for their caregivers be it parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or nannies who must see. They are simple to follow and easy for children to comprehend.
Remember children and infants follow by observation more than instructions, so whatever we want them to do, we must do ourselves. In short walk the talk!
Begin by practicing in front of them, for sure you will ignite their curiosity.
Forcing them can have the opposite effect, so if they get distracted or lose interest let them move away and calmly carry on with the practice yourself so they can observe your discipline despite the distraction.
Make sure this activity does not happen immediately after meals. Give a gap of at least an hour.
Even if they are yet not talking, converse with them as you breathe explaining the benefits of the practice.
Keeping it light hearted and playful benefits both, the teacher and the taught, forming a bond that lasts a lifetime.
Yog sadhana is a wonderful way of life leading to a peaceful co-existence with people inhabiting this earth and with nature. It fosters respect for all that is around us. This is a gift we can and should give to the children who are going to be the keepers of the future world.
To see VIDEO 7 minutes
Authoris a Kriyacharya based in North India.