Today, children spend a majority of their time engrossed with smartphones, computer, and other gadgets. This can adversely affect their health. Encourage your child to practise yoga to stay healthy.
By Suneel Singh
Rated one of the top 5 yoga gurus in India, Suneel Singh is a firm believer in the many health and mental benefits of yoga. In a chat with ParentCircle, he talks about his journey and what inspired him to take up yoga professionally. He also explains how we can encourage children to practice this traditional form of exercise and gives us a few tips to stay healthy.
My journey with yoga began when I was 10 years of age. It was my grandfather who first got me interested in practising yoga. After my graduation, I did my yoga teacher training in 1985 from Mantalai, Jammu & Kashmir, as a disciple of the late Guru Swami Dhirender. I obtained a first class and won a gold medal too. After completing my training, I returned to Delhi. Unfortunately, at that time, there wasn’t much awareness about yoga. However, as time went on, people began to understand the importance and benefits of yoga and recognised me as a professional yoga teacher.
I studied at the sports college in Lucknow where I was captain of the Under 19 central zone cricket team. While in college, I suffered a lower back injury that bothered me a lot. My grandfather advised me to practice yoga regularly and to train professionally. I began to practise yoga along with training in Kashmir and as time went on, my injury healed. From that moment on, I was inspired to take up yoga as a professional career.
In my yatra, now spanning 32 years, I have written 8 books on yoga, produced 4 DVDs, conducted about 3000 shows for about 29 television channels and written over 2000 articles. One of my most notable achievements for me personally was in 2016 when I conducted a yoga workshop with Shilpa Shetty in Dubai for 9000 people. What appealed to me most was, people from 115 countries belonging to different faiths chanted ‘Om’ together near the Burj Khalifa. This was one of my proudest moments.
There have been many but, my grandfather, no doubt, remains my biggest inspiration. I am also grateful to my sports coach in college Mr Arun B, who taught me the important lesson of discipline in life. My guru has also been an enormous inspiration. Personally, I feel that my experiences have inspired me greatly.
Once, during a yoga session, I was in the peacock posture, which is a rather difficult pose. A child wanted to know if I could dance like a peacock while in that asana! Children sometimes ask such funny questions in all their innocence. To me they are like another form of God.
Unfortunately, in the place where an art form or concept has originated, people don’t recognise its importance. But, after the Prime Minister took the initiative to promote International Yoga Day, there has been a tremendous change. Parents are now aware that this is an integral part of the Indian culture. In my experience, I have had parents bring along their children to yoga sessions. Initially, they are most uninterested. But, as time progressed, they became eager to join in and to perform asanas with their parents. Children are also now conscious about the various advantages of practising yoga. In fact, I am often asked how yoga can, for instance, help increase height. Once they are exposed to yoga, they are interested to learn various asanas and even perform the sun salutation or Surya Namaskar, breathing exercises or paranayama.
Anyone between the age of 8 and 80 years can practice yoga. An 8-year-old child can understand, learn and perform easily. We can make yoga fun and exciting by having sessions like laughter therapy or even making them chant in gibberish! Children tend to prefer particular poses; for instance, they find the balancing pose, or tree pose, interesting. Instead of conducting serious sessions, we must have sessions that encourage them to join in and enjoy them.
Here are some essential tips that both parents and children can follow:
Parents and children can chant the ‘Om’ mantra together every day for 5 to 10 minutes. This enables vibration in the brain and activates the thyroid gland, which in fact even helps boost confidence and can also help with issues like stammering. It is a wonderful way for parents to de-stress and relax.
Follow yoga guru Suneel Singh on his website.
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