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YOGA AND GOOD HEALTH.

Pauline Sebina

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World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as “….a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living, explains good health as disease free body, quiver free breath, inhibition free intellect, and ego that embraces all. From these definitions, and many others, it is clear that good health is a much broader phenomenon which affects the physical body and the more subtle aspects like mind, emotions, inner being and even covers wellbeing at a social level.

Let’s start with the aspect of social wellbeing, which takes us to the very first two Limbs of Yoga – the five Yamas and the five Niyamas. The first Limb being the five Yamas refers to one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. A quick recap of these include: non-violence; truthfulness; non-stealing; continence; non-covetousness.

The second Limb of the five Niyamas have to do with self-discipline and inner or spiritual observances. Examples are cleanliness – both inside and outside; contentment – when your happiness does not depend on what you have or what you don’t have; spiritual austerities being the ability to withstand the unpleasant, the discomforts of situations or place; the study of the sacred scriptures and of one’s self. Such study should lead or guide us to our inner person, to the peace within; and the last Niyama is about surrender to God, the Divine, or the higher consciousness or being.

Delving more into the human values found in the Yamas and Niyamas, undoubtedly social wellbeing has to start at a very early stage. We have a saying in Setswana that ‘lore lo ojwa lo sa le metsi” meaning that early learning is likely to be better entrenched as a lifetime value than teaching an older person.

We are aware that our young generation, who are our future, require a lot of guidance and mentoring on human values that would build them into a peaceful, caring, confident, and tolerant nation. Introducing yoga in schools may go a long way in leading us to a desirable socially healthy future. When our actions are guided by the human values espoused in the Yamas and Niyamas among others, good health required in social wellbeing becomes a given. More next week…….

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YOGA corner

Yoga and parenting

Pauline Sebina

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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.

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OGA AND PARENTING continued

Pauline Sebina

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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

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