Children Teach Yoga

Vikas Kumar Singh, Coordinator, Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal, Munger

In April 1995 I started teaching yoga to five young children aged between eleven and thirteen. In September we received an invitation from an institution to participate in a state level asana competition. I included two more children and began vigorous practice. Swami Gyanprakash took a keen interest.

However, there was an organizational hiccup and our parents forbade us from attending. We were deeply hurt. I contacted Swamiji immediately and luckily he was available. He also agreed with our parents decision and said, 'If the organizers have not kept their word, you are also not obliged to keep your word.' And he added, 'Do not let the children be disheartened. I will arrange another competition for them.' This gave us solace. The very next day the children came to me and said, 'We must set up our own Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal and our own program.' I replied, 'This is the concept for which I tried to organize you. I wanted this idea to come from you.' Then we contacted Swamiji and he readily permitted us to organize a yoga camp for children.

On Vijayadashmi, I took all fifty children to meet Swamiji. On that day, 3rd October 1995, he formally constituted Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal and asked us to organize a yoga competition in Munger. Swamiji also said that from now on he would take two children from Munger to every national yoga convention. It was a mega blessing for us.

With the help of well-wishers from the ashram, thirteen camps were organized in different parts of the district. In those camps, 976 children participated and 300 were shortlisted for the yoga competition. The competition was divided into four categories: 8 to 12 year old and 13 to 15 year old boys and girls. Swamiji was too generous in giving prizes. He gave 4 first prizes, 8 second prizes, 11 third prizes and 32 consolation prizes. Swami Gyanprakash inaugurated the one day event on 5th November and Swamiji awarded the prizes and certificates on 11th November.

Two children accompanied Swamiji to Calcutta, two to Sambalpur (Orissa), and another two went to Bilaspur (MP). In October Swamiji took eight children to Delhi and Jaipur. These children were given an opportunity to have his divine guidance and to demonstrate at an All-India Conference.

In between, from 5th to 20th June this year, a yoga instructor course for children was organized. A minimum of two children from all the important schools in Munger participated. In addition to asana, pranayama and yoga nidra, most of the children memorized Chapter 12 of the Gita. Swamiji gave Child Yoga Instructor Certificates to 50 children. In May 1997, these children will go to different parts of Bihar and teach yoga to children.

At Guru Poornima, Swamiji entrusted 63 children with the full responsibility for security and coordination of the day's activities. The children rose to Swamiji's expectations and performed their duties from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for two consecutive days, effectively managing the crowd of 5,000 people.

This massive response from the people was the result of a 'Yoga Parichay Satra' – an introductory yoga camp – organized in June by Yoga Mitra Mandal, Munger. About 5,000 people participated in the camp. There were 12 small stages and one central stage and, under instruction, the children performed all the demonstrations. The rest of the children did the security work and moved about helping their elders to correct their postures. People were stunned at their performance.

After Guru Poornima, Swamiji set up a Gita group, a Ramayana group and a Sankirtan group and began taking weekly classes on Sundays. Under his guidance, we are proceeding slowly but surely to take this light from Munger city to Munger district, from the district to the state of Bihar, and from Bihar to the rest of India and the world.