Kids Yoga

Kids Summer Camp

What did you learn today? NOTHING. Common answer. Hence the report - Just ONE DAY REPORT. You can imagine.

Yoga class - High energy youth teaching the high energy kids - fun to see the synergy; parent volunteers stayed outside because they did not want to disturb this synergy. Aria and Suchit kept the group on their toes. Towards the end, when they indeed burnt out their energy, Ashwini conducted a bhramari based meditation technique. The silence they followed was amazingly beautiful. We learnt two terms - Mouna - Sanskrit term for silence and Muni - the Sanskrit term for a yogi who is silent. 

Snack time - Organic grapes and organic carrots; organic bread and organic peanut butter; Ritz crackers; Orange or Apple juice; Suchit did a beautiful session of icebreaker with them.

Gita chanting - We learned Sahanavavatu - the peace chant we do before the yoga class and the first shloka of Bhagavad Gita chapter 16. We talked about the context in which Krishna teaches Gita to Arjuna. We chanted the first shloka many times, sometimes very slow, sometimes very fast, sometimes breaking the sentence, sometimes the entire quarter part of shloka, etc, just to give them fun time with learning. A minute of silence after Gita chanting was the most exhilarating experience for all the adults and kids. They indeed looked like Muni to us.

Philosophy - We discussed the theme of 16th chapter - the Daivi Sampath and Asuri Sampath. Some kids knew this - thanks parents. God's wealth - what is it? Is it gold/silver/diamonds? They said, no the good values ! We discussed that they can acquire the wealth of divinity by following good values. We learned the words - Abhaya - Fearlessness; Satva - Balance in life; Samshuddhi - Purity of character; dana - charity (answered by Vivek); dama - self control ; yajna - sacrifice (sharing); tapa - hard work; Jnanayoga - one kid answered - Knowledge about yoga :-) and we took it for now! So we will be working on all these values through the camp.

We discussed Karma Yoga - where they learn in school with all passion, but never worry about the grades; there was a debate on this amongst the kids; How can we motivate to do well without worrying about the grades? We cannot plan to study without worrying about our grades. We answered saying - worry is taking the time off of planning and studying; 

  • We have 10 mins; should we study or worry? - the answer was study
  • We have 10 mins; should we study 10 mins or study for 9 mins and worry for 1 min or study all 10 mins? - study all 10 mins?
  • So for a person who is busy working hard, where is the need or time for worry? They got the point. But not completely. So parents, do bring this up as they are quite bent upon grades, grades and grades. That will be nothing but stress, stress and stress in middle/high school.

Story session - one session for big kid group (over 10) and one for small (9 and below). They listened to the story with the theme - Satya - Patanjali's first Yama. The discussions are simply amazing! Cannot elaborate everything.

Nature and Me - We planted the seeds in a pot. We will keep watering them everyday.

Second half  

We had lunch with Suchit pulling their legs, telling them weird stories about his cooking skills (or the lack thereof :-) The kids were simply having fun pulling his legs.

We had a DRT session led by Reshma. They almost felt asleep and this is actually a much needed siesta style relaxation for them. Philosophy behind this is though they say it was boring, but, we teach them to relax and even take slowness of life. Boredom is a part of life. Life is not a roller coaster ride and our children are too stimulated to understand slowness. So boredom is a symptom of restlessness and we are teaching them to relax.

Art work - Theme - Environment - We taught them to use less resources, less disposables, less napkins in the toilet, bring their own napkins and lunch cover that they can use to eat lunch on. We want to come into the nature and leave it as if we never touched it. Like a fish entering the lake, not a buffalo entering the lake. Basically, we said to leave the place as it was when they entered, be it environment, kitchen, yoga place or this universe. They were asked to draw a picture art and write the words -  I came, I saw and I left it as it was - A quote inspired by Amitav, the child who attends the camp. Originally said by Julius Caesar as I came, I saw, I conquered. 

Mahabharata - We are watching Mahabharata selected episodes, not fully, but pieces. I discuss the story as they watch. We watched Bharata the son of Dushyanta Shakuntala choosing Bharadwaj as his heir instead of his sons. We discussed what sage Kanva says to Bharata - Conquer yourself O King, who has conquered the world. They quickly knew what conquering oneself means. Please discuss this with your kids. We watched Bhishma's (Devvrat)'s bravery episode, all for about 30 mins - just selected pieces, skipping the lengthy romantic pieces, that does not concern children. 

Games - We played Kabbadi - a strategy based modified kabbadi and you should watch them to see how they learn to strategize. Cannot explain it. But they were excited to learn. Then we played human chess - another game of strategy.

Advanced Yoga - We did Shirshasana using our prop. We practiced Vrikshasana and Nataraja pose and competed on who stands still the most. Amitav could stand with eyes closed on one leg. Quite a feat.

OM Meditation - We chanted 9 rounds of Aum and ended with Savre Bhavantu Sukhinah chant.


Yoga Kids Camp 2014 Report

2014 Summer Kids Yoga Camp - Final Report
Aria Coalson, Youth Volunteer Instructor

On July 28, at the Sunnyvale temple, a Yoga Bharati team lead by Shobha Charagondla began a yoga summer camp from ages 5 to 12. At first the kids remained quiet and not much interacting but, by end of the day 1, they got familiar with the fellow classmates and teachers and became much more involved and highly interactive.

Parents would check in at the signup list while their children would unroll their yoga matts and settle down. The camp really begins when everyone chants the universal starting prayer

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)

After this chant, the kids would partake in one hour of yoga asanas, taught by Shoba and our volunteer teachers. The beginning practices such as palm tree pose and cobra posture started out simple. By the end of the week, children attempted more challenging postures like lolasana (swinging version of lotus pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose). Still, many of the kids were able to bend and twist into these poses we thought would be challenging. Asana time would end with breathing exercises and chanting to calm their excited minds.

By this time child participants would dramatically groan with hunger and so they would take a well deserved morning snack break. Every day the snacks would change, but a steady component were the fruits/vegetables (apples, bananas, watermelons, cantaloupes, grapes, and carrots).

Once the food finished fueling the kids, one hour would be dedicated for skit preparation (which would make its debut on Friday). It took a while to herd the kids into their groups. Younger kids partnered together and took on the role of the one of the eight limbs of yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Our older kids were the swamis, trying to bring peace between the quarreling eight limbs. This play’s main purpose was to educate the children, and the parent audience during Friday’s final performance, about the story of the eight limbs of yoga.

To release all the nervous energy, we played a yoga game for 15 minutes. These games were basically everyday fun games children might play during recess with fun yoga twists in variations. For example, one day we played freeze tag, except when someone was frozen, they would have to balance in Vrikshasana (tree pose).

At 12 started the long awaited one hours lunch break. Students would sit with their newly found friends and eat together. A special thanks to the temple for giving us spoons for kids who forgot theirs. If a child signed up for half day camp, they would depart at 12.

Next, to calm the student’s minds, we engage them in an hour of peaceful chants. This included more slokas, prayers from the gita, patanjalis yoga sutras, and a, o, m chants.

Art supplies were then brought out for creative time. We began the week by growing our very own wheat grass and talking about its healthy properties. The other days, our head of the camp read us stories with morals and the children would draw and share their interpretation. Another fun activity was the 3D om projects, where student cut out and coloured their very own om signs.


Once again we played more yoga games for 15 minutes till afternoon snack time when we all took a break. This time, our healthy munchies were served along with other foods such as gram crackers, animal crackers, ritz crackers, or goldfish.

In order to teach good values to the students, we engaged them in some Karma yoga, where we all helped to clean up.

Finally it was 4 and full day kids would depart home but the extended care kids stayed on. We introduced more yoga games and other fun activities for the extended care kids until 5pm for them to depart.

Overall, all our volunteers enjoyed and had fun spending time with the kids and truly looking forward to future events!


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.

Presidents Challenge Using Yoga - Report

June 27, 2013

Yoga Bharati is conducting an observational study to understand and establish the importance of yoga practice amongst children in improving fitness, focus and attention. The study is being conducted as a part of the President’s fitness challenge.

The President’s Challenge is a program introduced by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and it is “for people who want to make physical activity and healthy eating part of their everyday lives”. The Council recently announced PALA (Presidential Active Lifestyle Award) to promote physical activity and good nutrition. This is a 6-week program to put the participants on the path of health. Yoga has been identified as one of the recommended activities under the 6-week program.

The purpose of the workshop and study is to show that regular practice of yoga in healthy children helps improve the fitness parameters as stated on the President’s Fitness Challenge.

Yoga Bharati Kids

Yoga Bharati approached this challenge by announcing yoga workshops for children. More than 130 students between the ages 7 to 12 years are participating in free yoga classes in 8 centers. Yoga Bharati is offering close to $10,000 worth of free classes this summer in implementing President’s challenge. Children are attending yoga classes at least 3 times a week. On the other 2 days, they follow the guidelines of the Presidents Challenge for youth and practice yoga and other physical activity for 60 minutes a day making it a total of 5 days a week. Kids follow 3 weeks of guided yoga practice followed by a home practice schedule to continue with President’s challenge protocol for 3 more weeks. Fitness assessments are being done before the practice, after 3 weeks and after 6 weeks. The students are required to maintain a daily log of their activities and diet.

Yoga for Kids

Yoga workshops are conducted and coordinated by the youth aged 14-21, who are yoga teachers of Yoga Bharati. These youth are responsible for teaching yoga, gathering the assessment parameters and following up with the participants to maintain a daily log that will provide data points for compliance with study parameters. The youth will synthesize and present the data analysis report at the end of the summer. This is a unique opportunity for youth volunteers for building leadership skills and it will also give them valuable experience. For younger kids, the youth act as a role model in developing health awareness.

“Yoga is fun” says Nisha whereas Josh says he loves Sun Salutations. Rakesh says “He likes yogic games”. The kids are enjoying summer with yoga!

Yoga Bharati hopes the summer workshops help in raising the awareness of yoga for children in the community.