Many yogis don’t discover their yoga practice until adulthood, but there are some kids who are lucky enough to develop a practice in their own right at a young age. Yoga is super beneficial for kids. There is plenty of research showing that mindfulness practices can profoundly affect children’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. Schools are even starting to bring the practice into the classroom to help keep kids focused and calm during (after after) school hours. As adults, yoga teaches and empowers us to let go of limiting habits and negative thought patterns, and the proof is out there that yoga also instills in children the the tools to navigate life’s challenges with confidence, awareness, and compassion. Here are seven yogic messages that every child (and adult, for that matter) should hear regularly:
- “You are enough” : You are whole. You are perfect. You are complete. Life lessons and growth are not about changing who you are, they are about realizing who you are ( svadyaya ) and stepping into your potential.
- “You are powerful” : You have a purpose on this earth ( dharma ). You are mighty. Be mindful of your words ( satya ) and actions ( ahimsa ) because they will certainly make a difference in the world. Muster the self-discipline ( tapas ) to wield your power responsibly. Create a legacy you can be proud of.
- “You have enough” : Money and things can play a key role in building your legacy, but wanting more than you need directs energy away from attaining your true birthright of living a life filled with purpose and joy ( aparigraha ). Understand that contentment is found in a balanced life, not in life spent chasing extreme highs and quick fixes. Expect no more than what you’ve earned. Take only what is given freely and willingly ( asteya ). Be generous. Be kind. Watching a breathtaking sunset from the deck your private yacht is cheapened when if you have no loved ones to share it with.
- “Some things just happen” : Life will devastate you. Despite your power, some events will be frustratingly outside your control and there will be nothing you can do to change them. Sometimes these things happen for a reason. Sometimes these things just happen. Either way, all you can do is surrender control, work towards acceptance, and trust that one day you will feel like you’re standing on solid ground again ( isvara pranydhana ).
- “It’s okay to have feelings” : Accepting loss and change is not easy. It is normal to feel grief, sadness, frustration, and anger. Resisting these feelings or pretending they’re not there only creates more suffering. Being okay with unpleasant feelings ( santosa ) and expressing them in healthy ways won’t make them go away immediately, but it will allow you to move through them with grace.
- “We are all the same” : You are enough. So is every other person you come in contact with. Never try to make anyone feel like they are anything less than perfect. You are powerful. So is everyone else. You are not meant to express your power by squelching someone else’s. Avoid those who try to squelch yours. Hold people accountable for their actions, but recognize that senseless, devastating things happen to others as well. Be compassionate ( karuna ) and hold space for others’ feelings.
- “Remember to have fun” : It’s easy to get caught up in the responsibilities of growing up and planning for the future, but never forget that joy ( sukha ) and pleasure ( kama ) are parts of a full life. Be curious. Explore. Experiment. Create. Play!
Mantras are powerful tools of affirmation that should be repeated daily. You can use them in a meditation by repeating the mantra with every inhale, exhale or full breath cycle, or you can use a mantra to set an intention for your meditation or asana practice. You can always make some adjustments to the mantras listed above, or create others that resonate with you.
When teaching a mantra to your child, be patient with them and know it may take some time for them to catch on to the habit. Explain the purpose behind it and find a way for the mantra to resonate with them. You can always start the habit by reciting your chosen mantra at the same time every day, perhaps before dinner or at bedtime. You could always turn it into an art project and have the kids illustrate their mantra, as a way of personalizing it for them. These are just a few ideas, and, as always we’d love to hear what’s worked for you! Leave a comment, or tag us on Facebook or Instagram, @myinnerfire, with a snapshot of your and your littles practicing this beautiful practice!