A: Children must not do yogasana before they are eight as it hinders the natural development of the pituitary and pineal glands. After this age, yoga has a profound impact on the childís development — physical, mental and emotional. The stress in todayís world starts from nursery school. So, it is crucial to start early in giving the child an all-round development.
Donít get too worried about your childís height — his/her vitality is more important. Since the body and the mind are growing rapidly at this stage, the focus needs to be on allowing the child to be naughty and lively, to learn to understand the meaning of orderliness (not military discipline) and to have the freedom to express his/her creative potential without undue intervention.
You will have to check whether the diet is balanced and adequate, timely and nutritive, whether the child is getting enough physical activity to burn off the huge energy within and whether he/she has enough company of the same age group.
The most important thing to remember is that the real personality of the child is developed at home and not in school.
The three practices given below will help in improving posture and height. If they are complemented with the holistic approach above, we will have another wonderful human being in the making.
More comprehensive yoga practices are there for growing children, such as the Surya Namaskar, but they should be done under expert yogic guidance.
This asana should not be attempted by anyone with serious back problems, sciatica, heart disease, high blood pressure or abdominal hernia.
Stand erect with the feet together and the hands beside the body. Slowly bend forward, first bending the head, then the neck, then the upper trunk, and let the arms go limp. Imagining that there is no spine, bend the mid-trunk and finally the lower trunk till the fingers are by the side of the feet. Relax the back, try to put the head between the knees as you bounce the fingers on and off the floor. Do this a few times, then slowly return to an upright position with the hands above the head. You will inhale when moving upwards and exhale when moving downwards. This is one round. Do five more rounds and then prepare for Vipareeta Karani Asana.
This is an inverted posture and must not be attempted by those suffering from enlarged thyroid, liver or spleen, cervical spondylitis, slipped disc, high blood pressure, heart ailments or weak eyes. It should be avoided during menstruation and advanced stages of pregnancy.
Lie down with the legs straight and the hands beside the body, palms downwards. Relax. Slowly raise only the legs to a vertical position by contracting the abdominal muscles.
Then press the floor with both arms and hands and roll the buttocks and spine off the floor till the legs are vertical. Then, bend at the elbows and place the hands on the hips, slightly away from the spine, to support the torso. The elbows should be as close to each other as possible. The legs should be vertical and together and the weight of the body should be supported on the shoulders, neck and elbows. The trunk should be at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Gently close the eyes and remain in the position for as long as you feel comfortable.
To come down, lower both legs over the head, place the arms close to the body on the floor, palms downwards. Slowly lower the spine, vertebra by vertebra, but let the head remain on the floor.
When the buttocks reach the floor, lower the legs, keeping them together and straight. Now relax in Shavasana till the breathing and heartbeat return to normal.
Anya Sur, Calcutta