Kids Yoga Camp Winter 2013

Jan 2nd, 2013

On this Winter Wednesday morning about 30 children came to the camp at 9:00am to learn Yoga while others were still in their sweet sleep. Brave kids and ambitious parents.

Children started to look at the group finding for a friend and looking to see if they knew anybody. Some of them made connections very immediately with other kids whom they have never seen. Once the kids settled, they were asked to spread their mats and stretch! Everybody started the Camp with prayer and this became start of the Camp each day

Sahanaavavatu – May we both be protected (i.e. the teacher and the student)
Sahanau bhunaktu (May we both be nourished)
Sahaveeryankara karavaavahai (May our knowledge be radiant)
Tejasvinaavadheetamastu (May our work be energetic)
Om Shanti Shanti ShantiH (OM Peace Peace Peace)

We started the day off with an hour of yoga consisting of Suryanamaskars and different poses, where kids paid really good attention and performed well. They even attempted challenging postures on the last day, and it was amazing to see their ?exible bodies listen to each and every stretch and pull. Suryanamaskar was given special attention and was taught all the three days. Suryanamaskar is one yogasana sequence which can be performed by kids everyday to improve flexibility and endurance.

Break time: Kids were already hungry and little tired on a first day, they energized themselves with healthy snacks after yoga. Healthy snack like cereal bars, bread butter/jam sandwiches.

Next activity in the Camp was chanting. For some of the children chanting was fairly new, but everyone picked up by the end of the first day chanting. Younger children learnt shlokas, small ones 1-2 lines and also learnt their meaning. One example was the definition of Yoga. “Yogaha Chitta Vritti Nirodaha”, Yoga is to control the thoughts of the mind. Younger children also learnt few shlokas, such as Saraswathi mantra and Hanuman stotram, and their meanings. Few Panchatantra stories with morals were read to them.

Older children group went one step ahead and learnt the first 10 sutras of Patanjali. Not only did they chant but also they learnt the meaning. They learnt the importance of Samskrit language and importance of chanting and how it can help improve memory and build concentration. Sage Patanjali’s definitions of Yoga and who is a Brahman and what is his nature were told. Finally what are the five Vrittis (states of mind), when mind is not in the state of Yoga were discussed. As any other knowledge, Yoga is a science and should be understood thoroughly before practicing. Al though Patanjali Yoga Sutras may not have marveled them initially, but they all wanted to chant and learn more on the last day.

Games were the next activity. Children love to play and of course at their age they need lot more activity and social interaction. Games brought a blend of both. Games such as “Pair Tag Game”, “Number formation” and “Lion and Deer” games gave them the art of coordination between the team members and improve their memory and concentration. Other games such “Yoga Freeze dance”, “Yogi says”, “Sitting and standing Dodge ball” games helped them improve their yoga poses and skills. Next two days kids were looking forward to the games!

Camp Group Discussions
(4-7 yrs kids)
Every day there was a topic taken up for discussion that included being nice to others, saying good things, ways to treat others with respect, teasing, and ways to handle when being teased. It was indeed awe-inspiring to see the kids brainstorm their inputs and ideas. Kids showed great con?dence and positive attitude throughout the discussions.

(8-13 yrs kids. Day 1 – Jan 2nd)
Topics – If you or your friends were bullied…
Kids got to speak on this topic and everyone participated and spoke their minds eloquently without hesitation. Some of their wonderful responses in their own words;
1. The bullier may be a troubled kid herself. So I would talk to her and find out why she does such a bad thing and I will offer to help her to become a better kid
2. I would stand up against such bullies. I sympathize with other kids who tolerate such bullies.
3. I would stand up and protect any kid that is getting bullied
4. I would get so mad that I would hit that child with my Sitar (funny one :-))
5. I would take the matter to the teachers. Someone said LAW
Some serious discussion happened among the kids; note that the adults were not talking at all.
6. There are lots of good things also happening in school and everywhere but the media focuses on only bad things. We should educate people that it is not so bad.
6. There are very few bad people, but they can do lots of damage. World war II was started by 1 bad guy.
7. In my school, we fought against a bully who teased one boy who wore a pink shirt. Because he bullied a kid with pink shirt, the next day, all the boys decided to wear pink shirt and the bully could not do anything.
8. The bully kids don’t know that they are hurting themselves in the process. They can get into serious fights and bad things can happen to them

Summary talk given YB teachers (Parents, please discuss this with your children)
Kids all said wonderful things and we gave a big hand to all.
Each one of them was right. We need to understand that there are different ways of handling bullies. We call it Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda.
1. Sama – Conciliation – Example 1 of talking to the bully and helping her out of being a bully.
2. Dana – Incentives – If you stop being a bully, you will have all of us as friends.
3. Bheda – Warnings/Consequences – If you continue bullying, you will lose friends and you will be lonely, or we will report this etc.
4. Danda – Take that Sitar if all the efforts fail  Basically, even while practicing Danda, you don’t have to cause any harm to the bulliers. Even taking the matters to the school authorities is good enough. The story of the snake and the saint was told where the violent snake was advised to practice non-violence and how the snake got into trouble because he was getting bullied. The saint then tells the snake – I told you not to bite, but I never told you not to hiss!!
5. Non-Violent Danda practice – We took the example of “Pink Shirt” example in the above points (point no 6) and said this is exactly what Gandhiji did. To protest firmly, but non-violently and this example of all kids wearing pink shirt is wonderful act of protest against Bully!

Day 2 – Jan 3rd
Group Discussion – Your Culture and Staying in America

Here is what children expressed.
1. Staying in America gives them exposure to the other cultures.
2. Staying in India, you would only be exposed to Indian Culture only.
3. Teachers in America are nice
4. In America you get to know learn other cultures and also Cultural similarities.
5. It’s fun to be an Indian.
6. Culture is a form of art, music
7. Culture is part of the country, and culture is food too.
8. If you want to learn any culture you have to live in it. Like if you have to learn Indian Culture, one has to go to India and live there.
9. Culture is part of religion.
10. America is also influenced by Indian Culture as they celebrate Diwali:)
11. We have responsibility to carry our Culture!
Teachers summarized: Children already gave a broad picture, so teachers just summarized all and told them all answers were just right and excellent. Learning other cultures is good, but our first responsibility is to learn our own culture and be in it and appreciate other cultures. Also appreciate our Culture by learning them from our immediate family and help other friends understand them. India has a rich culture with different states having different cultures. Learning and appreciating all of them. Living in America broadens our vision to provide exposure to various different culture across nations.

Final Day Performance and Talent show:
Children chanted the shlokas and Patanjali Yoga Sutras that they learnt in 2 days. They also performed a short set of Asanas which they almost prepared in few minutes. Every kid has a unique talent. Their talent was showcased in the form of individual performances. Children brought in their talents such as songs in their native languages, national anthem, keyboard, shlokas, strotras, rhymes and relevant jokes.

Children need appreciation which helps them to motivate and keep their learning going. With this understanding Yoga Bharati presented Certificate of Appreciation to all the kid participants and youth volunteers. Uniqueness about the camp was there were youth volunteers who helped camp activities and earned some volunteer hours.

Both the group children learnt pranayama techniques, to help them improve breathing pattern, improve breath capacity and in turn increase their efficiencies. to ease off the eye strain the kids are exposed to, we did eye a few exercises for the eyes like rotating eyes, massaging around them, and candle gazing (jyothi trataka).

Overall, kids had a very productive 3 days. Teachers enjoyed children’s company as much as they did, and it was definitely a two way learning.