The only beings (other than liberated souls) that are in harmony with themselves, i.e they are at home anywhere and don’t care who is watching, are babies and children. And yoga naturally manifests in their supple bodies.
It is quite common to observe children performing yoga asanas or yoga mudras that support their physical and mental development.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says children are born yogis. “There is a talk that Guruji gives about how children perform different asanas at different stages of their development. For instance, when they are learning to walk, they do the cat stretch to strengthen their spines or perform the Pavanamuktasan to boost digestion,” explains Dinesh Kashikar, faculty at Art of Living Yoga and the Art of Living Foundation.
If as children, we are born yogis and perform yoga naturally, then why do we forget the practice and lose flexibility as we grow up?
“The main reason is that their interactions with their environment, namely parents and peers, have a bigger influence on them. So they don’t get to interact much with nature. Secondly, the pace of life is different these days and parents don’t really encourage their kids to do yoga. Thirdly, the ego starts developing and does not allow the child to be natural,” points out Dinesh.
According to him, yoga itself can never be forgotten because it is as natural as heart beat or sunrise. “There is an innate intelligence that knows what postures are good for the body. The ancient rishis discovered this in their meditation. So yoga postures are easy to learn, they manifest,” he continues.
“When we observe children from all over the world, whether they are from Japan or Latin America, perform similar yoga postures.” Once children grow into adulthood, these postures need to be consciously and regularly practiced to achieve the goal. “As we grow up, our awareness matures and these postures begin to have a deeper and more profound impact. When body and mind develops, the impact of the yoga poses also changes. For example, children can put their big toes in their mouth, but they cannot keep their attention at one point. By practicing yoga postures, we can get the best of both worlds: maintain the suppleness of youth and increase the awareness of a mature mind.”
“More schools are now including yoga as a part of their curriculum. Children in this generation are now more exposed to yoga than their parents were,” he shares, “The Art of Living Yoga program of the Art of Living facilitates the rediscovery of the yogi in each one of us.”
Some interesting observations:
- The fetus in the mother’s womb can often be observed holding the merudanda mudra(thumbs up)
- A new born child can be seen very often with the adi mudra (closed fist with thumb enclosed)
- Infants very often hold the chin mudra (thumb and forefinger delicately touching at the tips and the other 3 fingers are opened out)
- When babies start turning over, they do Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Natrajasan (leg crosses over while lying on the back with arms stretched out)
- When they start crawling, they often do the cat stretch
- As they learn to stand up and walk, they do trikonasan (triangle pose) and the mountain pose
- Till the age of two, babies often do the pavanamuktasan( knees and legs up in the air folding towards the stomach while lying on the back)
- Babies are often seen even sleeping in the child pose
There are many other such points of observation where yoga as we know it is a natural and spontaneous expression of the child’s consciousness. Perhaps, the next time we are with a child, this article can translate in to your own experience. Please do write in with your observations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer: Harshini Vakkalanka, Graphics: Gurudatt Anveker
Yoga practice is not a substitute for medicine. Please consult a doctor before practicing yoga postures. It is important to learn and practice yoga postures under the supervision of a trained Art of Living Yoga teacher. Find an Art of Living Yoga course at an Art of Living Center near you. Do you need information or share feedback? Write to us at email@example.com.