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Note: For the complete lessons, with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.

Lesson 256 - Yoga for Our Children

From: Yogani
Date: Wed Feb 16, 2005 11:55am

New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"


Q: I need a clarification related to sharing of the meditation exercises with younger members of my family. Could you please let me know if there is a minimum age to take up these exercises? Though kids might not really understand the purpose, I feel it could help them learn and react better to various situations in life. Are there particular exercises we can teach them and some that we should not, or should we wait for them to grow up (to around 20) before suggesting any of these practices?


A: It is wonderful that you want to share meditation with your children. There can be great benefits. Here is an overview that looks at the full scope of yoga practices in relation to age:

Easy "I AM" meditation can be practiced upon reaching 12-13. The suggestion is to start out with 10 minutes maximum per twice-daily sitting. If there is an undesirable result, too much purification, then less time, or none, should be used until a year or two later, and then try again. Too much purification is usually noticeable as irritability and/or dullness in daily activity. Of course, with teenagers and new hormones flowing, that may be happening anyway. Daily meditation in the right dosage can be a help.

Note: Excessive purification can happen if the nervous system is very sensitive to meditation, which indicates a high spiritual sensitivity -- a good thing, but it should be handled carefully using the principles of "self-pacing" covered in the lessons. Such extreme sensitivity is uncommon, but it does happen, so the caution flag is here for that. See lessons #160 and #200 for an example of extreme sensitivity, and the utilization of self-pacing to handle it.

Once age 18 is reached, the time of meditation can be inched up 5 minutes at a time over several months to 20 minutes, as comfortable. By this time, the young practitioner will have an established interest, or not, depending on individual karma and desire. Don't force it. At this stage, it will be as much the inner condition of the young practitioner that will determine the path as what the parent can offer. Many children will drop meditation for a variety of reasons. But the seed is planted. The rest will be up to individual desire in relation to the flow of nature and karma. This is true for all of us, yes? The good news is that the spiritual tide is rising everywhere. Everyone is becoming more attuned to their inner transformation. So, any seeds that are planted these days are certain to germinate and grow to full blossom -- if not here and now, then somewhere along the glimmering road of this life, or perhaps the next one. Our gift will not be wasted.

Light nadi shodana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) can be used by teenagers before meditation for 5 minutes, or so. It is a common practice that can be learned almost anywhere -- it is covered in the AYP book too. Nadi shodana can also be used in short sessions by pre-teens (without meditation) if emotions need some soothing influence. Alternate nostril breathing of 5-10 minutes several times per day is good for that.

At age 18, nadi shodana can be replaced with spinal breathing, inching the time up as appropriate, as discussed in the lessons. Advanced pranayama-related methods (including spinal breathing, kumbhaka, mudras, bandhas, chin pump, spinal bastrika, etc.) are for expanding the sexual function upward into higher manifestation in the nervous system, and that is why techniques beyond easy meditation and light nadi shodana should not be used until puberty is past. Spiritual transformation in the nervous system, expanding neuro-biological functioning to express divine ecstasy, is like a second puberty in many respects. One puberty at a time is enough! For some, taking on full practices may be best much later than 18 years old. For others sooner may be okay. Everyone is different, and you should use your best judgment in making suggestions on this. Once spinal breathing and meditation are progressive and stable, then going step by step through the full range of practices can be undertaken according to one's desire (bhakti) and capacity (self-pacing). This is the adult stage, of course.

Light asanas can be undertaken, using good common sense, at any age. Once sitting practice/meditation is begun, then asanas can be done right before that. Asanas can be learned almost anywhere these days, with children's classes becoming quite common. An "asana starter kit" is also included in the AYP book.

Regarding our youngest children, sharing our own rising inner silence in the form of overflowing loving service is the ideal yoga for them. They will benefit greatly, and be ready for practices when the time comes, according to their own inclinations. Obviously, we cannot dictate what another's inclinations will be -- even our own children's. Everyone has their own journey to make. We can help a lot, but we can't do it all for them. Let's be careful not to hem our kids into a practice routine that is not natural for them. Remember, it is their inner silence that will ultimately determine their path more than anything else.

One thing is for sure. The more we can progress in our own practices, the better it will be for our loved ones. That is how we can stimulate inner silence in everyone.

Wishing you and all your family success on your chosen paths.

The guru is in you.

Note: For detailed instructions on building a daily practice routine with self-pacing, including suggestions on teaching (passing it on), see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book.

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