Captivated by “Yoga & Meditation for Children”, a beautiful book written by Fran Rosen-Sawyer and Bonnie Maltby; Charito, Carla, Jackie and me (the subscriber) ventured into offering a program of “Yoga, Art & Nature for Children” at “Hana” (Lima, Peru). We got together with the intent to share with children the simple and wonderful tools presented in that book. We had never done something similar before. Even our professional lives had little or anything to do with it, yet within us , we felt that it was something we had to do together, that despite our lack of experience, we would have something to offer and that it would be a learning experience for us all.
We shared out the tasks and carefully prepared each and every class, which were oriented towards the teachings of the Five-Fold Path, in a practical way. Thus each class revolved around a different subject such as sharing (DANA), auto-discipline (TAPA), self study (SWADHYAYA), purification of the atmosphere (YAJNYA), good actions (KARMA), etc. Finally , when the first day of class arrived, Charito, having bravely volunteered to be the teacher, had to face a great challenge for she had just found out she was expecting her third baby plus realized that mostly boys! had registered to the course.
In class the children practiced asanas (yoga postures), meditated, painted mandalas, planted their own vegetables and herbs in the garden, prepared vegetarian snacks and played instruments around the Agnihotra fire. It did not take us long to understand that it was not possible to demand from 6-year-old children much passive attention for a long time. Children rapidly make us step on the ground; teach us to be more flexible, to be permanently connected to our present and to flow with them.
With each class we could see each group of children developing nicely in their own way! They were encouraged to practice asanas while telling them a story, which kept them motivated and attentive. It was wonderful to see them learning, to know that they were practicing at home and teaching their little friends, and to feel that something was changing in their personalities. Some shy ones opened up; other restless ones learned to be quieter; others learned to share more; and yet others to accept their difficulties without feeling so frustrated by comparing themselves to the rest. Their parents used to say to us that the children liked to work at the garden very much. We see that the connection to nature is very important to the children, that it helps them to relax and allows them to channel their energy in a positive manner.
I was given the task to teach them Agnihotra at sunset. The fire captivated many while all of them shared their happiness when they saw the fire turn into different colors. On the first Agnihotra class I realized that everything had to happen quickly in order to keep their attention. I was left with a strange feeling. However, it was surprising and exciting to see later a circle of light in one of the pictures which Carla had taken during that sunset Agnihotra. I understood that even in such apparently “imperfect” moment, light beings had been with us. On the second Agnihotra class the children remained quite still near the fire, and while it was still burning, I took the guitar and we started to sing them a song which talked about Agnihotra. Each child chose an instrument to play. There was a sort of light in their eyes while each one at his/her own rhythm created his/her own music. It was wonderful! Far from what could have been expected from such a scene, the different sounds and rhythms found their way to harmonize. There is always magic in the presence of fire. It does not matter if we are not experts at singing or playing some instrument. I believe that anyway we have to do it since God will make sure our voice tunes with our heart.
We have learned many beautiful things in this program. Maybe the greatest lesson is that we always have to let Divinity guide us and be absolutely certain that we will be good instruments wherever we are called to serve. We feel extremely grateful to those children who accompanied us in this adventure. Thank you Carlitos, Luciana, Santiago, Mark, Maria Paz, Franco, Angel, Joseph, Jimena, Patricio, Kabu, Norbu and Belen for having been our little masters and for having enlightened our paths with your shining light.