In 1995, when I taught a yoga class to five children at my home, I never thought that with the blessings of Swamiji and the initiative of the children, by 2001 it would have become an organization with 1,500 children in its yoga teaching group and 45,000 in its yoga learning group. In order to ensure adequate growth, Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal (BYMM) (Children's Yoga Fellowship) has been divided into five sub-groups.
This is the backbone of BYMM, aspiring to fulfil the slogan of "yoga education for the children by the children". The children in this category are thoroughly trained at Bihar School of Yoga under the guidance of Swamiji and experienced sannyasins. The ladder of progress is as follows:
Demonstrators are trained to demonstrate yoga practices and conduct shanti path, while instructors are trained to conduct school assembly sessions and short classes. The training sessions are conducted at Bihar School of Yoga for the local children of Munger and in selected schools for children in far flung areas. Pracharak (propagator) classes are conducted only at Ganga Darshan. Only 50 children are selected for these classes and there are no vacancies for new students for the next five years. A child selected in a particular year becomes a demonstrator in the second year, an instructor in the third year and a propagator in the fourth year. Pracharaks travel throughout the country at the invitation of organizers and with the permission of Swamiji.
The yoga learning group is complementary to the yoga training group. An important feature is the 'Bal Yoga Parichay Satra' (children's introductory yoga course), which is conducted in Munger every October. From this course children are selected for the yoga training group. This introductory course is also conducted in different parts of the country at the request of organizers and with the permission of Swamiji. Since 1996 these children have conducted yoga classes in 250 schools.
The outstanding feature of the children's introductory yoga course is the participation of 5,000 children at a time at the Polo Ground, Munger. It is a special moment to see 5,000 children practising yoga under the instructions of trained children. Swamiji is always present at these training sessions.
In order to ensure all round development of the children, the personality development group was formed to blend modern education with traditional values. Important associated activities are the karate group, chanting group, painting group, spoken English group and kirtan group. Training of these groups is conducted on a weekly basis, every Sunday. Other groups such as dramatics, dance and sports run on a project basis.
This group consists of students selected to conduct research. In 1999 a four month research project was conducted with 702 children to assess the efficacy of yoga practices on memory, creativity, self-esteem, self-discipline and self-confidence. The results were very encouraging, and in March 2000 Swamiji presented a report on the results at the RYE Education conference in Paris.
This group has two levels:
All these events are coordinated and facilitated by members of the governing body of BYMM, who are all school students. With Pallavi Prakash, standard X class student of Sadipur Saraswati Balika Vidyir Mandir, Munger, as President, BYMM is scaling new heights with the guidance and blessings of Swamiji (who in 1999 declared it to be the best yoga organization in the world).