Milk Magazine (English) - - CONTENTS - Text: Aman­dine Grosse - Photo: Stéphanie Lou

Ira Trivedi, yogi for kids

Listed amongst the BBC’s “100 most in­flu­en­tial women in the world” in 2017, Ira Trivedi in­spires thou­sands of yoga fans in In­dia and else­where. In her books for chil­dren, she in­tro­duces young read­ers to yoga and med­i­ta­tion. So what’s her se­cret?

You use games and scenes from ev­ery­day life to help chil­dren med­i­tate and learn yoga. Why do you think this is es­sen­tial?

We live in a sin­gu­lar age in which so­cial me­dia are very present. That’s why it’s es­sen­tial to teach chil­dren to con­cen­trate while ig­nor­ing dis­trac­tions and other de­mands. For ex­am­ple, many chil­dren now eat in front of their screens and fork in their food me­chan­i­cally. But when one doesn’t pay at­ten­tion to ei­ther what or how one eats, one eats too much. Mind­ful­ness may be ap­plied to any mo­ment of the day: while brush­ing one’s teeth, go­ing to school, watch­ing tele­vi­sion…

Con­cretely, what does yoga do for chil­dren?

Yoga has a very pos­i­tive im­pact not only on the body but also on the hor­monal sys­tem, which, at the on­set of pu­berty, is in tur­moil. Chil­dren learn to man­age their neg­a­tive emo­tions and con­cen­trate through a dis­ci­pline that in­volves no com­pe­ti­tion with other peo­ple. At school, this abil­ity to fo­cus and re­main calm has very pos­i­tive ef­fects on their ca­pac­i­ties for learn­ing and “liv­ing to­gether”.

So yoga en­ables chil­dren to bet­ter con­trol their bod­ies and minds.

Ab­so­lutely. Yoga en­ables them to pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the way in which their bod­ies work. Many of my stu­dents don’t know how to breathe prop­erly. Yet breath­ing cor­rectly re­laxes the va­gus nerve which reg­u­lates emo­tions and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion. Fur­ther­more, chil­dren are very sen­si­tive to the emo­tions of peo­ple close to them. Much more than we think. Yoga and mind­ful­ness prac­tices en­able them to re­gain their in­ner peace. That’s a strength they will be able to draw on when they reach adult­hood.

You founded the char­ity Na­mami Yoga that seeks to teach yoga to un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren. Why is this an im­por­tant task?

In In­dia, yoga is more ac­ces­si­ble to ed­u­cated, up­per-mid­dle-class chil­dren. This foun­da­tion hopes to bring yoga to peo­ple who don’t usu­ally have ac­cess. For th­ese chil­dren for whom life it­self is a chal­lenge, yoga is a way out, a safety valve that helps them to be hap­pier and less ag­gres­sive.

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