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.