Teaching yoga to children in Mumbai’s hospitals and schools
I remember teaching at a hand full of schools in Mumbai, hundreds of kids in the second, third, fourth and fifth grades. They were so ready, so used to mediating every day. When I arrived, they were all already in position: backs straight, fingers in mudra, legs crossed on the floor, awaiting. The eyes wide open, and smile that stretched their whole faces and made light. Giggling would flood the hallways when I showed up. “Foreigner! ” They curiously shouted every time kids would first meet me. ” What gave it in?” I asked myself. Haha. And then, with a few minutes, the excitement for the fair lady passed a bit and we communed in meditation together. Hundreds if children, all quiet. All within. I think this might be the only way to find solitude in such a populated country, I thought to myself sometimes. And they found it- playful, loving and composed solitude.
At The Yoga Institute, where I lived for eight months as part of my year in India, a large part of our training was to to teach in the health camps. There were many health camps that lasted seven days all day, all teaching how to use yoga therapeutically for: diabetes, cardiac health, pregnancy, senior years, respiratory problems, back and joint disorders, menopause, mental health, among others.One of the favorites was the children camp. For a few days, children from all over the city came to the ashram compounds to live and breath yoga. I shared with them many yogic games, routines and fun embodiment though postures, breathing and relaxation. The whole grounds were filled laugh and running little kids, excited for yoga joy.
I wish yoga had found me when I was a child. It was close enough- it was at age fourteen. I was already in the throws of adolescence and it was the most transformative event in my life. I found a new way of thinking and being. At the same time, it felt familiar, like I was revisiting a way of thinking and being. I remember my amazement when realizing I had control over my breathing, my heartbeat. Overtime, I learned about the impermanence of my emotions, I became curious and was able to observe them in a way that was integrative and wholesome. Yoga was a whole complete class about ME! I realized that self- study was not a selfish activity, but allowed me to live a healthier and happier version of myself. Thus, as yoga became part of my day-to-day like, not only on the mat, I could experience myself being more compassionate, energized and centered.