The only beings (other than liberated souls) that are in harmony with themselves, i.e they are at home anywhere and don’t care who is watching, are babies and children. And yoga naturally manifests in their supple bodies.
It is quite common to observe children performing yoga asanas or yoga mudras that support their physical and mental development.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says children are born yogis.
“There is a talk that Guruji gives about how children perform different asanas at different stages of their development. For instance, when they are learning to walk, they do the cat stretch to strengthen their spines or perform the Pavanamuktasan to boost digestion,” explains Dinesh Kashikar, faculty at Sri Sri Yoga and the Art of Living Foundation.
If children are born yogis and perform yoga naturally, then why do they forget the practice and lose their flexibility as they grow up?
“The main reason is that that their interactions with their environment, namely parents and peers, have a bigger influence on them. So they don’t get to interact much with nature. Secondly, the pace of life is different these days and parents don’t really encourage their kids to do yoga. Thirdly, the ego starts developing and does not allow the child to be natural,” points out Dinesh.
According to him, yoga itself can never be forgotten because it is as natural as heart beat or sunrise.
“There is an innate intelligence that knows what postures are good for the body. The ancient rishis discovered this in their meditation. So the asanas do not need to be learnt, they naturally manifest,” he continues.
“That these asanas are innate can be proven by observing children all over the world, whether they are from Japan or Latin America, perform similar postures.”
Once children grow into adulthood, these postures need to be consciously and regularly practiced to achieve the goal.
“As we grow up, our awareness matures and these postures begin to have a deeper and more profound impact. When the body and the mind develop, the impact of the asanas also changes. For example, children can put their big toes in their mouths, but adults lose the suppleness. As the body ages, the same asanas act in different ways and regular practice of yoga can help maintain youth.”
The point of yoga is to harmonize with nature. Regular practice of yoga brings about this harmony with the universe.
“The word yoga stems from the word ‘yuj’ meaning to unite or harmonize. When we do more yoga, we start getting more in touch with ourselves. As we get in touch with ourselves, we begin to experience joy. We are all different parts of the universe and we start experiencing this connection when we do yoga. That’s why yoga and meditation are relaxing,” he explains.
Dinesh Kashikar also believes that a growing number of people are starting to realize the value of yoga.
“More schools are now including yoga as a part of their curriculum. Yoga is gradually becoming a part of the corporate atmosphere. The media is also playing a big role in promoting the ancient practice.”
“It is becoming a fallacy that children forget yoga as they grow up. Children in this generation are now more exposed to yoga than their parents were,” he shares, “The Sri Sri yoga program of the Art of Living facilitates the rediscovery of the yogi in each one of us.”
Some Interesting Observations:-
- The fetus in the mother’s womb can often be observed holding the merudanda mudra(thumbs up)
- A new born child can be seen very often with the adi mudra (closed fist with thumb enclosed)
- Infants very often hold the chin mudra (thumb and forefinger delicately touching at the tips and the other 3 fingers are opened out)
- When babies start turning over, they do Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Natrajasan (leg crosses over while lying on the back with arms stretched out)
- When they start crawling, they often do the cat stretch
- As they learn to stand up and walk, they do trikonasan (triangle pose) and the mountain pose
- Till the age of two, babies often do the pavanamuktasan( knees and legs up in the air folding towards the stomach while lying on the back)
- Babies are often seen even sleeping in the child pose