India's Youngest Yoga Teachers?
Isha Vidhya Students head to the front of the class to teach free Upa -yoga sessions at Isha Yoga Center in preparation for International Day of Yoga.
If you are planning a visit to Isha Yoga Center in the next few days, make sure to include half an hour for a session of Upa-yoga, offered for free in honor of the upcoming 2nd International Day of Yoga on June 21st. However, during your session, you might notice that your teacher appears much younger than expected!
Eighth and ninth graders from 8 Isha Vidhya schools across Tamil Nadu have taken on the impressive project of offering the daily yoga sessions to all interested visitors and volunteers at Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore. Aged 13-14, these bright and enthusiastic students have trained to become teachers and much more, taking care of all the aspects of the classes, including enrollment, promotion, setting up and conducting the sessions. The classes are aimed towards ones health, stress-free life and inner wellbeing.
Over 30 students are participating each week, with sessions offered in Tamil every day from April 16th to May 29th, beginning on the half-hour from 10am to 5pm. Special sessions have also been offered in English. So far, the project has been greeted enthusiastically, with 7,000 enrollments for the sessions in just 12 days!
One group of students from Isha Vidhya’s Villupuram school has been staying at Isha Yoga Center for a week, eagerly offering the free time from their school holiday to participate in the project. Sandhiya, age 13, shared, “When we arrived here, we knew we would be doing volunteering, but we were surprised to learn that we would actually be teaching yoga classes! We learned how to conduct the sessions, and we give each other feedback on how we are doing, including how we stand and speak. At first, we were nervous to stand in front and teach, but now we are used to holding the microphone and we are confident giving the instructions and explaining the benefits of the yoga.” Outside of the class, other students manage enrollments forms and encourage ashram visitors to attend the sessions. “They are excited to come and learn yoga. Everyone is asking us about the classes,” shares Vinitha, 13.
Though they are novices at teaching, these students are no strangers to yoga practice. During the school year, the Isha Vidhya curriculum includes yoga periods each morning. “When we do the yoga practices,” says Vinitha, “I feel more active and refreshed. I do my work seriously and sincerely afterward.”
After a week of living at the ashram, a space which the girls describe as “a paradise”, the students are reluctant to leave, but at the same time, excited to return home and continue to offer yoga sessions for friends, family and community. “They are excited to learn from us,” shares Sandhiya, “even though they are elder, they want to listen to us and learn.”
Upa-yoga is a simple yet powerful system that activates the joints, muscles and energy system, allowing one to live a complete physical life. These practices were offered in a variety of forms in live sessions and online for the first International Day of Yoga on June 21st, 2015, touching over 12 million people!
In a recent Spot, Sadhguru shared his plans for the upcoming International Day of Yoga: “We want to reach out to the most important segment of human population – the children.” He outlined a goal for Isha to touch at least ten thousand schools across India, a plan which could bring yoga into the lives of eight to nine million young people. To learn more about how you can be a part of these efforts, please visit YogaYoga.org