Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal (BYMM) was established in 1995 with seven children, who became the nucleus of a movement which has grown to include over 80,000 children devoted to yoga. These children are not only devoted to or practising yoga, they are fully trained and well-versed in yoga. In Munger there are over 2,800 child yoga demonstrators, over 600 child yoga instructors, and over 400 child yoga teachers or propagators.
This is a movement which is created and managed by children, for children, all in the age group of 10 to 14. The mandate given to them incorporates three principles: samskara, appropriate performance in life, swavalamban, independent effort, and samskriti prem, love for culture. By receiving good samskaras, they are able to live a good life. Swavalamban means being like the river that finds its own path. Not being dependent on anyone but possessing the ability to stand on one's own feet and being happy. The third aim, samskriti prem, refers to the spirituality-based culture of this country. To love and identify with this culture is an aim given to these children. Samskriti has been defined as samyak kritena iti samskriti. When every behaviour and action in life is samyak, balanced, then this balance is called samskriti.
The BYMM children associate with these three aims in life. Yoga is something they learn naturally, as part of their play, and when they go out into the world they carry these three acquisitions with them.
The children receive their training through a four-year syllabus. It is a progressive course in which the last stage is yoga teacher training. So at the age of fourteen they are qualified yoga teachers with four years of experience. For one year they are yoga demonstrators. They are introduced to yoga practices, learn asana and pranayama along with the theory so they know what yoga practices do to their body.
In the second year, they are taken to another level and become yoga instructors. As yoga instructors they are taught the intermediate group of practices along with more theory. At this level they also learn yogic games, which help improve their awareness, concentration, attention span, creativity and memory. In the third year they are promoted to yoga propagators, for this they are trained for one year in advanced yoga techniques. After completing three years of training, if they wish, they can become a member of BYMM.
Swami Sivananda used to say that the mind of children is as sensitive as the microphone of a tape recorder. It can pick up everything from the environment. Children are, by nature, intuitive. The intuitive faculty is active till the age of eight. Then intelligence kicks in, when they start going to school and learning a, b, c, d and math, the education process overshadows the intuitive nature and stimulates the intellect. However, the intuitive receptivity can be stretched till the age of fourteen with the practices of yoga. After fourteen, when other hormones kick in, they need another set of yoga practices. By then they already have a good foundation of asana, pranayama, the meditative and mantra components of yoga. They develop a deep understanding of things which one would consider impossible for a child. This is how we teach yoga to children.
My yogic aspirations are placed on the shoulders of these children. My priority is these children. They are my children. They are my wards. Being the spiritual mentor of these 20,000 children in Munger, somebody whom they look up to. Their safety and security is my responsibility, but the ashram is not associated with BYMM.
They are the new generation of tomorrow and are bound to contribute to the strengthening of Indian culture. Today, these children are receiving the ideals and samskaras that they could not receive from their guardians. We feel extremely happy to see the self-confidence, sincerity and diligence of these children when they move in the outside world. We are looking towards the future of our society and country through these children. The beautiful combination of diligence and sensitivity in their life will help in the redemption of our culture.
These children make me feel confident that the next generation will be a dharmic generation. Dharma means eternal obligation and the three pillars of dharma are appropriate thinking, appropriate behaviour and appropriate action. These children who are being trained in yoga will have a dharmic personality and they will make a difference to our society, our nation and our world.
The work done now will show results two generations down the line. Therefore, we need to encourage children and bring them to the forefront. Children don't need protection; they require freedom and guidance to connect with their own creativity and confidence. This is the message that Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal conveys.