Welcome back! Here you will discover Part 3 of our Yoga “Seeing the Whole Picture” series. We typically think of yoga postures and movements when we think of yoga, however as you may have discovered in our posts there is so much more fun to be found 🙂 Our goal with our yoga series is to bring you ideas of how you may incorporate yoga into your families life, in small ways that bring large impact. Enjoy the last 6 limbs of yoga from Patanjali and remember to take time and dive into some yoga each day with your little yogi!
ASANA– Patanjali’s third limb of yoga is asana, the posture practice of yoga. The practice of asana brings forth discipline, internal strength (mind and body), and the concentration that is necessary for meditation. Little Lotus yogis participate in asana classes during their class sessions, and are encouraged to incorporate their physical practice at home with their family as well. Create a welcoming environment for your child to share with you what they are learning in class. Set aside a special time each day to share in a short asana practice with your child(ren). There are also great dvd’s available for children who want to practice at home.
PRANAYAMA– The fourth limb of yoga is pranayama. Prana= life force Pranayama= control of the breath. Through various breath exercises the body is purified and the mind is stilled. This enables the yogi to enhance their concentration and assist in making meditation more attainable. Little Lotus yogi’s are encouraged to experience with their breath and deepen their breath with deep belly breathing. Ask your little yogi to show you their balloon breathing (deep abdominal breathing) and how to make wind with their mouth and nose. Older yogis are encouraged to develop skills for alternate nostril breathing, kapalabhati and sitali breathing exercises.
PRATYAHARA– The fifth limb of yoga is pratyahara. Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the senses from the external environment and creating a focus with the internal self. This can be seen as a form of concentration. A form of concentration that brings forth awareness within the body. In a world where we are continually multi-tasking it can be extremely challenging to withdraw from the external world and environment to focus within. Little Lotus yogi’s are invited to withdraw their senses from the external environment through the development of listening skills, then increasing quiet time and tuning into the body. Older Little Lotus yogis begin to tune into the body by following the breath and mantra’s. Encourage your preschool child to take time each day to participate in quiet activities and activities that require directed attention (i.e .coloring, school homework, reading, yoga) and to practice listening. Guided story meditations and recordings may be enjoyable for your child and family. Take time out to focus within the body each and every day withdrawing from the noise of cars, and chores to be completed.
DHARANA – The sixth limb of yoga is dharana. Dharana is achieved by directing the attention to a fixed point, in the form of an idea, object, place, sensation, mantra, the breath or an image. In a society where we are always multi tasking it can be challenging to allow the self to be fully present, complete in the moment and focused. Once the mind directs its attention to a fixed point it may begin to wander. When you recognize the mind has wandered from its fixed point or object, and at times this may occur without notice, bring it back to the point of focus. Over time the mind will wander less frequently and becomes clearer and still. Invite your little yogi to spend quality and peaceful times with you while you sit quietly looking into a candle flame (be safe!), focus within on your breath, recite a mantra or focus on an image. Encourage your child to stay focused on the object or place for as long as they feel comfortable. Ensure that there is never negativity or pressure associated with this special quiet time.
DHYANA– The seventh limb of yoga is dhyana. Dhyana occurs when a continuous flow of cognition towards an object or image happens within. Dhyana is a meditative state where no thoughts intrude and the vritti (internal chatter) begins to wind down. It takes effort to achieve dhyana but once that state is entered there are no struggles to maintain a continuous flow of the mind. The mind in meditation is peaceful, clear and one-pointed. All three of these things must be present at the same time. Dhyana comes when you have developed a deep connection to stillness through meditation. Over time and practice of dharana, dhyana will naturally occur. Set aside time to meditate and be still regularly and see the benefits that you and your family receive!
SAMADHI– The eighth and final limb of yoga is Samadhi. Samadhi is the highest state of consciousness and internal bliss, free from all suffering, attachments and judgments. It is a spiritual experience that brings forth pure consciousness that is void of any attached thoughts. One who experiences Samadhi merges with the divine and is One with the Universe. Samadhi brings forth realization of the ego and that the soul and divine are what is real within each individual.
The soul and divine never die, but live on after the physical body has passed. Little Lotus yogi’s participate in activities that bring forth the understanding that every individual is equal, regardless of age, colour, sex, etc. Encourage your child to do things that bring forth happiness and joy with emphasis on non-attachment (of toys, activities) and not judging (people, thoughts, behaviors). Only once the limbs before have been practiced and maintained will the door to Samadhi begin to open. Remember it’s a journey and to take time along the way to be present and enjoy the moment each and every day.