To continue on yoga and parenting, this week we consider the fourth limb of yoga which is pranayama or breath control.
To recap, breath is the link between the outer world of activity and inner world of silence. Prana is the subtle life force inside us, subtler than the breath, and is what makes us tick. Through proper breath control, and applying the numerous breathing techniques we are able to keep the prana level high and this leads to better control of emotions, among the many benefits.
Parents will attest that a dreaded scene is when a child throws tantrum at any point in time, or sulks when they don’t get their way. The likely uncontrolled response by the parent does not help the situation either. Consistent regular practice of Pranayama is a very effective empowering tool for both the child and the parent. The more the practice, the greater the realization that emotions don’t have to rule our lives, and this leads to freedom and better self- awareness. Without this awareness and experience, there may be a tendency to erroneously define oneself or a child by their emotive disposition from time to time.
When the breath is deep and long (as opposed to short and shallow), it calms the mind. Doing yoga asanas with this deep long breath bring benefits like the ability to exercise patience, tolerance and to engage one another productively in times of disagreement. Raising a child with these human values is a big step to creating a better world by developing transformational leaders of tomorrow. On the health front, some respiratory disorders which children tend to be prone to can be alleviated by the regular practice of pranayama.
The last four limbs of yoga – pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (practicing one pointed attention), dhyana (a state of being keenly aware without focus), and samadhi (bliss) all lead to a culmination of a deep meditative state. A calm meditative state of mind whether for the parent or child is one of the major sources of energy which leads to a calm but alert state of mind.
More next week
Yoga and parenting
This week let’s consider the different growth stages of a child, as we delve further into yoga and parenting, and reminding you that by yoga I refer to the combo of physical stretches, the breathing techniques and meditation.
Starting the child with yoga at a very early stage is beneficial for the many reasons that we’ve already touched on. It builds a very strong value system in a child, which serves as a strong foundation for their development. For example, the benefits of mental calmness, emotional intelligence, physical fitness, good energy, focused mind, self-confidence, enlarged sense of belongingness with humanity, a tolerant mindset are all valuable pillars for growing a child. The benefits are far reaching at home, in school and in the society.
Following from above, when children who have been practicing yoga reach their teens, they are so grounded that the common pains of peer pressure, low self-esteem or being bullied are not even an issue for them. We all know that the teen stage is very fragile, and that’s where children lose their balance. They become easily influenced, start experimenting with smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.
We know that sometimes children are exposed to, and have to deal with many other social ills that are beyond their control, which cause a dent on their persona. But when a child has developed inner strength, self-confidence and self-discipline from practicing yoga, it goes a long way to keep them mentally stable and with clarity of purpose.
Children observe what their parents do. As a parent, when you also practice yoga it brings some assurance to the child that they in turn are doing a good thing. So as parents we do it for ourselves and also for the sake of our child.
As the child graduates to being a youth and young adult, all the good attributes we’ve shared above would have created a person with integrity, loving, sensitive to others, productive, focused, in all, a good and successful human being. Botho is one of our National Pillars, and creating a generation of young people with Botho would not only be a family wealth, but also a National wealth.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Art of Living has a schedule of different programs for 2019, providing opportunity to experience all the benefits shared above and more.
More next week.
Yoga and self confidence
One of the definitions of self-confidence is “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities and judgement”. And some of the antonyms are diffidence, insecurity, self-distrust, self-doubt.
What really steals our self-confidence?
Sometimes it is very small remarks, actions or gestures to little boys and girls in their innocence. The seemingly harmless talk or action by parents, relatives, peers, friends, sow a seed of inadequacy, feeling of not being loved, feeling of being “less than” the other person, and so on. Sometimes it is serious unpleasant experiences which impacted the boy-child or girl-child negatively. Because as we grow up, we are not taught how to deal with negative emotions, they pile up, ferment until the body and mind can’t handle them anymore. Then they manifest into insecurity, self-distrust, self-doubt… The more the mind keeps replaying what people said or did the more it gets validated, and it is brought to life.
As we grow up, for as long as we have not purposefully done any program to rid ourselves of negative emotions, they stay, and the play in the mind becomes more “sophisticated” as well, it goes to another level. At the teen level, the behavior you see is about wanting to prove yourself to the world, to show people that you are better, more beautiful, aggression creeps in, selfishness creeps in anger, and before you know it delinquency of sorts sets in. Ultimately unhappiness and depression come.
At the adult level the negative emotions continue to manifest in different shapes and colors. It creeps up in family relations as lack of peace, lack of love, lack of togetherness… It creeps up in work relations as aggression, arrogance, being insensitive to others, fueling fights, abuse, or selling oneself to seek favors, etc. In church relations it creeps in as jealousy, gossip, ill feeling towards others. The list goes on…
In all these situations yoga does help. Remember “Yoga” in all the past 13 articles refers to the regular practice of a combination of yoga stretches, breathing exercises and meditation. As you’ve been following from the previous articles, regular practice of Yoga brings inner peace, calmness, self-discovery, self-confidence, self-worth. Peace of an individual leads to improved relations within the family, community, nation, and ultimately to world peace. Art of Living programs present the opportunity to make 2019 a year of good change.
More next week…
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