YOGA FOR ALL AGE GROUPS

CHILDREN
Naturally any teaching must require certain modification and a selection of techniques that are most appropriate for the benefit of students of any age group and the practices of the traditional disciplines of Yoga are no exception.
For ease in teaching it is desirable for students to be grouped according to age as in other educational systems. This may be ideal but is not always possible and requires a certain number of students for this type of segregation. Separation of boys and girls in early years of say 3 years to 7 years is not usually necessary. Beyond this age is different.
Although general classes of children of various ages may be established, students will not be completely at ease unless with others of about the same age and it is worthwhile to consider a small nucleus class that will in time increase.

The teaching of Hatha Yoga is based upon the complementary character and interaction of electro-magnetic energies of nature that influence and maintain a balance in our physical and psychological health. The understanding of the pranas or positive and negative energies is fundamental in the philosophy and the practices related to the breath.

We all exist and function through the balancing of these natural forces and their natural expression through either male or female personalities, with the male to have the positive of Sun energies dominant and the female having the opposite Moon energies uppermost. In a subtle way these energies function by subconscious processes. In a more direct way, they are affected by our minds and state of consciousness.

It is as important for a boy to have an image of what he would wish to become in developing his manhood. Apart from his father as a role model, he needs to develop his own self image for the future – one based upon the warmth, strength, generosity and outgoing power that has the Sun as its symbol. Just as important it is that a girl follows the example of her mother as well as learning to develop the female virtues of gentleness, grace and sensitivity of an ideal woman symbolised by the Moon. This symbolism provides anchorage for establishing their values and influencing their behaviour.

The physical exercises in Hatha Yoga for boys are aimed at developing strength and will as those for girls concentrates upon flexibility and graceful movement. Both must learn the general exercises of traditional movements that develop full freedom of movement as well as muscular tone.
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TEENAGE YEARS
Teenagers , that is those from 13 – 17 years of age, have already been influenced by their home life, school life and the example of their peers to the extent that they often are so confident as to not be easily receptive to new ideas and will be more focussed upon the physical cultural aspects at commencement of their classes. However, by the wonderful benefits of relaxation practice they learn to release stress. By stillness of the mind and body in easy meditation they find the key to better concentration and discover a sense of their individual power to direct their lives and perhaps discover an increasing interest in philosophy.
Because of the importance of self discovery and self interest, it is relatively easy to introduce young students to the value of natural diet and consideration of avoiding killing of animals for food but it is not wise to emphasise the latter because of the necessity to respect their parents and the values in their home as not many homes have kitchens that are vegetarian.
There will be a natural inclination towards eating food that will build good health and a fine physique or a beautiful body and vanity helps sometimes to undertake what seems a difficult discipline or motivation toward changing habits.
These years however are of extreme importance in developing the intellectual powers and learning memory skills, exercising imagination and strengthening powers of concentration.
How to help these faculties is the demand made upon the yoga teacher who uses the time honoured techniques of classical Yoga.
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LOVERS OF NATURE

“Once on lying down on the sward, I first looked up at the sky, gazing for a long time till I could see deep into the azure and my eyes were full of the colour; then I turned my face to the grass and thyme, placing my hands at each side of my face so as to shut out everything and hide myself.

Having drunk deeply of the heaven above and felt the most glorious beauty of the day, and remembering the old, old sea, which (as it seemed to me) was but just yonder at the edge, I now became lost and absorbed into the being or existence of the universe. I felt down deep into the earth under, and high above into the sky and farther still to the sun and stars. Still farther beyond the stars into the hollow of space, and losing thus my separateness of being, came to seem like a part of the whole.

Then I whispered to the earth beneath, through the grass and thyme, down into the depth of its’ ear, and again up to the starry space hid behind the blue of day…….”

Richard Jefferies from “The Story of my Heart”
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“The happiest man is he who learns from Nature the lesson of worship.”
Emerson

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Yamas/Niyamas yogi ethics

Being reminded of some of the most important philosophic and practical principles of Yoga as set out in the traditional method is invaluable in teaching Yoga, provides anchorage for wide-ranging ideas but confined to a simple 10 statements that can be seen as
related to the 10 Commandments and enduring requisites for human culture. Each item demands intensive study by the teacher in order to relay the subtleties of the teaching.

The Yamas are translated as the Restraints – what not to do
The Niyamas are the Virtues or Qualities to select to do in the art of living

Yamas are practised by reducing or eliminating -
Violence
Lying
Stealing
Wasting
Selfishness

Niyamas are exercised by constant reference to -
Purity
Contentment
Aspiration
Self analysis and study
Devotion and dedication to God

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Subjects for Class

There are different subjects that open up teaching opportunities as to the application of the Yogic philosophy.

e.g. Mention of Astrology could give opportunity to discuss personality types and self control

Stress could lead to causes and techniques to reduce tension

Ayurveda leads to presentation of the ancient science and its long held traditions

Balance – Hatha Yoga
Benefits of Yoga practice
Chakras – and Energy
Colour – and Light
Detachment – attitudes
Emotions and thought
Fate and Free Will
God – concepts
Goodness – virtues
Hygiene – health rules
Importance of the Breath – pranayama
Karma – cause and effect
Love – devotion
Meditation – Mala and Mantra
Nature and its Elements
Natural Laws – defining morals, ethics
Relationships – understanding
Reincarnation – justice, Divine justice
Smiling – habit for happiness
Truth – discussing concepts
Wisdom – what is it?

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Spirit of Yoga – The Teacher

Those who are attracted to the teachings and practices of Yoga are required to study and to learn all that is possible of its philosophy and health disciplines in order to benefit fully.

In addition to the physical and psychological disciplines that promise personal benefits to health and well being, it is anticipated that exponents will advance to experience spiritual realization and higher levels of consciousness.

(Read the rest of this entry…)

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